Bruce Kovner

chart stock market plunge Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.gif* Lawyer opinions solicited: Is this an effective ad for malpractice insurance? [Copyranter]
* Another ugly day for the stock market. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* On that subject: Is the vast family fortune of Rachel Kovner, ATL’s official It girl, in jeopardy — as recently rumored by our sibling site? Not exactly. But if Bruce Kovner’s legendary fund is up only 3 percent year-to-date, things could certainly be better. [DealBreaker]
* What? The iPhone is not God’s greatest gift to man? Bite your tongue! [Althouse]
* Ignoring a handslap will get you a benchslap. See page 15, footnote 7. [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (PDF)]

In light of our earlier posts about Cristina Schultz and Rachel Kovner, Friday is rapidly turning into “Women of Stanford Law” day here at ATL. And that’s not about to change.
We’ve received some interesting responses to our wall-to-wall coverage of Ms. Kovner — whom we are determined to turn into a celebrity, whether she likes it or not. On her ideology — which we originally described as conservative, but then quasi-retracted — we received this information:

I question your label of Rachel as “staunchly conservative,” though mostly because she was so quiet it was difficult to discern her politics. She was certainly a great deal more friendly to progressives and moderates at SLS than some of our outspoken, ultra-conservative classmates (of whom there were, thankfully, very few).

So let’s place a big question mark in place of the previously bestowed “conservative label.” Rachel Kovner will work for conservatives (like Judge Wilkinson and Justice Scalia), but she’s rather quiet about her own views. So think of her as the Harriet Miers of her generation — but hopefully with better personal style, given the financial resources at her disposal.
poverty.jpgOkay, this next criticism gives you an idea of how hard it is to run a website read by so many attorneys. Leave it to lawyers to nitpick:

I don’t understand why you insist on making such a big deal about Rachel Kovner’s family wealth, conflating her and her father financially. Bruce Kovner may be worth $2.5 billion. But don’t forget two things: (1) the estate tax, and (2) his two other children.

Assuming Bruce Kovner (1) doesn’t give away much of his fortune to charity, (2) leaves it all to his kids, and (3) doesn’t give Rachel the “Nicole Buffett treatment,” Rachel would only be looking at a third of his estate — split with her siblings. After the inheritance tax, that might amount to only $400-$500 million. That kind of money wouldn’t put her in the ranks of billionaires, or even the Forbes 400.

ONLY half a billion? How on earth is the poor girl going to feed herself?
Earlier: Prior coverage of Rachel Kovner (scroll down)

rachel kovner.jpgBased on the feedback we’ve received, it seems that you share our obsession with the brilliant Rachel Kovner.
In case you don’t know, Ms. Kovner is (1) the best student in the history of Stanford Law School (“the Empress of Palo Alto”); (2) a future law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia (“Nino’s Girl”); and (3) the daughter of the $2.5 billion man, Bruce Kovner.
(The rather odd picture at right is from her Facebook profile. Don’t ask us, we’re as confused as you are.)
One thing we’ve heard is that Rachel, despite her brilliance and her wealth, is a quiet and unassuming young woman. She doesn’t call attention to herself; to the contrary, she eschews the limelight. She doesn’t like people knowing that her dad is the 93rd richest man in America (a fact that’s in the public domain, readily ascertainable by anyone with Google).
Now all this is quite understandable. After all, Rachel doesn’t want certiorari petitions sent to the Supreme Court with footnotes like this: “If the Court declines to hear this case, petitioner respectfully requests that this petition be construed as an application for a $5,000 loan from Ms. Rachel Kovner, so petitioner can get momma a facelift.”
But it’s just not a realistic approach to the world for someone in the Jimmy Choo shoes of Rachel Kovner — as we will now explain, in this open letter.

Dear Ms. Kovner:

Greetings from your friends at Above the Law. As you surely know, we have written about you extensively in the past week. See, e.g., here and here.

We understand from some of your friends that you are a modest and low-key person, uncomfortable with being the center of attention. But given who you are, your aversion to the spotlight is simply untenable.

With your blinding intellect, and your father’s mountains of hedge-fund cash, it was only a matter of time before the world discovered you. Greatness knows no hiding place. The proverbial cream rises to the proverbial top.

So Rachel, dear, listen up. You got a Supreme Court clerkship, and we didn’t; so maybe we’re in no position to give you advice. But we ARE a little older than you, and we’ve been around the block, so please permit us a few words.

Here is today’s lesson (which we hope you’ll learn with the same diligence that earned you the top grades in Stanford Law history): There is nothing more important than fame.*

Yes, fame. Celebrity. Your name on everyone’s lips. People knowing who you are, even though you have no clue as to who they are. An off-the-chart Q score. People constantly talking about you — for good or ill. Take to heart the words of Samuel Johnson: “I would rather be attacked than unnoticed.” Or this old adage: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Remember the saying “Whoever dies with the most toys wins?” It should be updated for today’s world: “Whoever dies with the most Google hits wins.”

As we’ve said again and again, Rachel, you are fabulous. A superstar. And you need to stop denying or hiding from that reality. You are one of the greatest legal minds of your generation. And your father is one of the world’s richest men.

So start playing the part. Find your inner diva, and let her shine. Show up tomorrow in Judge Wilkinson’s chambers and shout, at the top of your lungs: “I am Rachel Kovner. Hear me roar!!!”

Sincerely,
Your Friends at Above the Law

* Incredibly enough, the phrase “there is nothing more important than fame,” placed within quotation marks, generates no Google hits. The same thing goes for the more concise “Nothing is more important than fame.”
Well, that’s about to change…
Earlier: More on the Fabulous Rachel Kovner
Definitive Proof that Life Isn’t Fair


rachel kovner.jpgIt appears that our post yesterday on Rachel Kovner — the young legal genius clerking this year for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.), and next year for Justice Antonin Scalia — has struck a nerve. It’s been getting emailed around, and we’ve also gotten a lot of mail about Ms. Kovner.
So we’d now like to supplement our prior report on Rachel Kovner, aka “the Empress of Palo Alto” (for having the highest GPA in the history of Stanford Law), aka “Nino’s Girl” (for landing a much-coveted Scalia clerkship). Here are the points we’d like to make:
1. Yesterday we described Rachel Kovner as “staunch conservative”; but that assessment has been questioned. If you can shed some light on this issue, please email us.
2. We’re sorry we don’t have a photograph of Rachel Kovner (which would allow you to see if she’s as beautiful as she is brilliant). The picture at right — seemingly of a camel’s head, framed by cut grass, in the flatbed of a truck — is from her Facebook profile. But there are no actual photos of Rachel in said profile.
3. For the record, we bear no ill-will towards Ms. Kovner (who is a wonderful person by all accounts; see point #4, infra). To the extent that you detect some snark in yesterday’s post, please understand that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Rachel. It’s all about us, and our self-professed envy.
Here’s how we would summarize the main point of our prior post:

Rachel Kovner woman is a legal genius. Her résumé — Harvard College, Stanford Law School, #1 in the history of her law school, Stanford Law Review (senior articles editor) — is a work of art. She’s clerking for one of the best appellate judges in the country, followed by one of the best Supreme Court justices. And, to top it all off, her dad is worth $2.5 billion.

Why can’t God spread that stuff around? Why do some people lead incredibly charmed lives, while the rest of us wallow in mediocrity and sorrow?

“Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears…”*

But this should in no way be read as saying that the Empress of Palo Alto doesn’t deserve every accolade she has earned; it’s just our own petty player-hating.
After all, we also envy Adrien Brody’s body, and Bill Gates’s billions. But we recognize that they worked hard for these things and fully deserve them. (Yes, we know that some of you think Bill Gates and Microsoft are instruments of Satan; but you see what we’re trying to get at.)
4. Despite her incredible brilliance, writing talent (for which she won a prize while at Harvard), and vast familial wealth, Rachel Kovner is a down-to-earth and wonderful human being. Sources describe her as “very modest,” “low-key,” and “sweet — but in a delightful rather than cloying sort of way.” According to one source, Rachel is “so wonderfully modest, you would have no idea of her background [as the daughter of a billionaire].”
In short, Rachel Kovner is a superstar — but she hasn’t allowed her brilliance and her wealth to go to her head. We look forward to reporting on her conquest of the legal world in the months and years ahead.
YOU GO, NINO’S GIRL!!!
Rachel Kovner, We’re Not Worthy [WSJ Law Blog]
NewsMakers [Harvard University Gazette]
Rachel Kovner [Facebook]
Inbreeding at One First Street [Underneath Their Robes]
Earlier: Definitive Proof That Life Isn’t Fair
* Okay, you’re right: We actually never get tired of listening to the sound of our tears.

bruce kovner.gifAs we reported earlier today, Rachel Kovner — a.k.a. “the Empress of Palo Alto” — just landed herself an October 2007 Supreme Court clerkship, with judicial icon Antonin Scalia.
It’s a well-known fact that Justice Scalia doesn’t hire women often. But when the woman in question is (1) a staunch conservative with (2) the highest GPA in the history of Stanford Law School, he’s considerably more open-minded.
So Rachel Kovner has a pretty good life. She spent law school in beautiful, sunny California, where she shattered academic records left and right. Then she decamped for pastoral Charlottesville, Virginia, for a real plum of a clerkship: a year with the courtly and delightful Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.).
After spending the year with Judge Wilkinson — who is, by the way, a great friend and mentor to his clerks (with whom he lunches and runs three miles each day) — Rachel will move to Washington, DC. There she will join other brilliant young legal minds inside the marble palace of One First Street, where she will serve as a Supreme Court clerk. And not just any SCOTUS clerk, but a clerk to Justice Scalia — one of the most desirable justices to clerk for.
This is truly a charmed life. What more could a girl want?
Umm, how about A BILLIONAIRE FOR A FATHER?
Yes, that’s right: Rachel’s dad, hedge fund genius Bruce Kovner (at right), is the 93rd richest person in America, with a net worth of $2.5 billion. Forbes describes Bruce Kovner as a “[d]evout Republican,” who chairs the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and funds the Manhattan Institute, another conservative think tank.
So if a daughter of Bruce Kovner’s wound up with a Scalia clerkship, one might legitimately wonder: Did Daddy’s right-wing connections help her land the job?
But Rachel Kovner need not fear such stigma. Harvard College, Stanford Law School (#1 in history of school), Stanford Law Review (senior articles editor), and a coveted Wilkinson clerkship should be more than sufficient to dispel such aspersions.
Note to all OT 2007 Supreme Court clerks: Whenever you go out to dinner with Rachel, pass her the bill. Her father’s net worth is equal to over 10,000 of your piddling SCOTUS bonuses.
Random aside: After graduating from Harvard and before going to Stanford, Rachel Kovner worked as a reporter for the New York Sun, the conservative New York daily — which, by the way, is funded by Bruce Kovner. This fact led some critics of the Sun, with an obvious axe to grind against the paper, to refer to Rachel as “Daddy’s Girl”. But now, thanks to her indisputable legal genius, she has earned herself a new nickname: “Nino’s Girl”!
Update: More on the Fabulous Rachel Kovner
Bruce Kovner [Wikipedia]
Forbes 400, #93: Bruce Kovner [Forbes]
Earlier: SCOTUS Clerk Hiring Watch: Nino Almost Done for OT 2007