The dog days of August are when nothing, typically, gets done in Washington. But Elena Kagan won’t have the luxury of easing into her new job as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

She’ll be hiring law clerks and secretaries, setting up her chambers, wading into thousands of incoming petitions and handling emergency matters — which may soon include an appeal of a stay in the California same-sex marriage case. “In a sense she’s already a month behind,” said Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, head of Ropes & Gray’s appellate and Supreme Court practice, who was at the solicitor general’s office when Kagan started that job last year. “The number of petitions you face is enormous.”