It was a surprise to some in August 2010 when Leondra Kruger was named acting principal deputy U.S. solicitor general. She was only 34, and less senior than some in the Justice Department who could have been in line for the job. But to others, the promotion seemed like a natural next step, another sign that the young African-American lawyer’s star is on the rise. She has the credentials: a undergrad degree from Harvard, J.D. from Yale, clerkships for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and a stint as an associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

With 11 Supreme Court oral arguments now under her belt, Kruger has admirers who see no limits to her career choices. “There’s a serious chance she’ll end up on the Supreme Court,” said Court watcher Tom Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell. Former boss Neal Katyal, now at Hogan Lovells, said she is “one of the most talented oral advocates I have ever seen, hands down.”

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