Justices will see some new faces at the lectern arguing on behalf of the United States this fall.
A Justice Department official confirmed that Roman Martinez, currently an associate at Latham & Watkins, and Rachel Kovner, now at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, have been hired as assistants to the solicitor general.
Martinez and Kovner replace Leondra Kruger, who left for the Office of Legal Counsel, and Pratik Shah, who has been hired to be co-head of the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Another newcomer will be Ian Gershengorn, recently named principal deputy solicitor general after Sri Srinivasan joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
While new as advocates before the justices, Martinez and Kovner know their way around the court. Kovner clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia in 2007-2008, and before that, for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Martinez clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. in 2009-2010 and previously for Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the DC Circuit.
While at Latham, Martinez won a significant victory in a pro bono case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on behalf of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates. The court restored appeals rights for certain veterans seeking benefits.
In connection with an award Martinez received for his work on the veterans’ case, Roberts sent a letter to the veterans’ advocate group describing him as “a lawyer of exceptional skill who understands the unique responsibilities, challenges, and sacrifices of those in our armed forces. Roman’s work on behalf of American veterans is admirable and in the best tradition of the bar’s commitment to pro bono service.”
Martinez also served as an advisor to the U.S. ambassador in Iraq in 2005 and was director for Iraq on the National Security Council staff from 2004 to 2005. He was awarded the Defense Department’s Distinguished Public Service Award for his service in Iraq.
“The solicitor general has made a great hire,” said Gregory Garre, head of Latham’s appellate practice and a former solicitor general. “Roman is an immensely talented appellate advocate and wonderful colleague, who helped secure many favorable results for our clients, including a major victory in the Federal Circuit on behalf of veterans. We will miss him greatly, but we wish him all the best and look forward to watching him before the court in his new role as an assistant to the solicitor general.”
At the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, Kovner has been an active litigator. In 2011, she was part of a team that won guilty verdicts against lawyers involved in an illegal tax shelter scheme.
Kovner is a former Bristow fellow in the solicitor general’s office and a former Temple Bar scholar with the American Inns of Court. She has been a frequent subject for the gossipy Above the Law web site, which once called her the “Empress of Palo Alto” for having the highest grade point average in the history of Stanford Law School. (The site has also made much of the fact that her father is Bruce Kovner, a billionaire hedge fund founder.)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York declined to comment on Kovner’s departure.
Contact Tony Mauro at email@example.com.