February 19, 2021 Public Contract Law

PCL Member Spotlight

Ruth Cooper Burg

Ruth Cooper Burg

Ruth Cooper Burg

Judge of the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (retired) | Miami Beach, FL

Member since 1967
Practicing public contract law since 1965
PCL Section Chair (1984 – 1985)

Q: Briefly describe your practice in public contracting.

A: In 1967 I was hired as a legal assistant to Paul Gantt, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Board of Contract Appeals. I had recently closed my private practice in federal tax law and was not acquainted with public contract law. In 1972, I was appointed a Judge of the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) where I served for 22 years. Upon retirement from the ASBCA, I was a private arbitrator and mediator primarily in public contract law.

Q: Why did you become a public contract lawyer/ professional?

A: After graduating from law school, I clerked for Judge Steven Rice, U.S. Tax Court, followed by practicing federal tax law as a solo practitioner until my first husband, Max Breslauer, died in 1965. My practice became full time and having two young children who needed me, I closed my practice. Sarah Bunting, former President of Vassar, was appointed as an Atomic Energy Commissioner (AEC) where she persuaded the AEC to start a program to employ women on a part time basis. I was one of two lawyers appointed by Joseph Hennessey, AEC General Counsel. Paul Gantt had requested one of the slots and hired me – starting my career in public contracting.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Public Contract Law (PCL) Section?

A: I felt that if I was a member I wanted to participate – beginning with a committee appointment from Allan Joseph and rising through the ranks to be nominated for the Council in 1980 and Section Chair in 1985. The Section was the only forum where all views of interest could be voiced – private, government, and corporate. I actively recruited government attorneys to present their positions and attend meetings even if they were not members. I also enjoyed the many friendships I developed over the years. Our section is small and at one time everyone knew everybody else. Sitting on the bench can be quite lonesome and the Section events provided an opportunity to visit with others, discuss relevant issues, develop positions or participate in preparing white papers. Social events including the Annual Air Force Trial Lawyers' Dinner, the various luncheons, and annual party were a time to meet and greet many friends and provide an opportunity for younger lawyers to meet the seasoned lawyers in the field.

Q: What is the greatest benefit of your membership in the PCL Section?

A: Hopefully, the work I did with the Section improved the practice in public contract law. Various committees helped forge policies and positions over the years. To this day, I have enjoyed and maintained the friendships I made in the Section. It has been an important part of my life.

Q: Please share a good/ favorite memory of Section participation, or how you look forward to participating in the future.

A:  I have many wonderful memories. One I treasure is the Section’s advocacy and nomination that resulted in my being awarded the ABA Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award in 1980. Another is a beautiful bound book of abstracts of my opinions, prepared and presented by Marshall Doke at a reception in my honor. I will always cherish the annual luncheon named for me. These are just a few of the wonderful memories I have as I look at the beautiful jewelry box presented by the Section to me at a surprise 85th birthday party held for me at FPI. Of personal pride to me is the number of women whom I have mentored and have become active in the Section, including serving as Section Chair. This is my legacy to the Section of which I am very proud

Q:  What do you do outside of work and ABA activities?

A: Today at 95, I am retired and housebound because of the COVID virus. I spend hours needlepointing or on Zoom watching musical performances or lectures. I treasure the wonderful memories of travel with my husband and family to various places around the world, including memories of fly fishing at our home in Montana and in New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina. I have enjoyed a full and interesting life and hope I have contributed to the welfare of the world.

About the Member Spotlight Feature

Our Member Spotlight Feature is designed to focus attention on our members and their work within our committees and Section. Our spotlights will be updated on a regular basis. Earlier spotlights will be archived and remain online for easy accessibility.

If you are interested in being featured, please complete this short questionnaire. Although we cannot guarantee that all submissions will be featured, we will try to include as many PCL members as possible. You will need to provide a high-resolution photo of yourself that is at least 1,000px (pixels) wide.

Benefits of Participating

In addition to introducing yourself to fellow PCL section members, a spotlight provides an opportunity to market yourself & your firm and optimize your online presence in the public contract law community. New spotlighted individuals will also appear on our home page and be mentioned in our weekly Section email update. 

How to Participate

If you wish to be considered for a Section Member Spotlight, please complete the Spotlight Questionnaire. We will try to showcase as many PCL members as possible. You will need to provide a high-resolution photo of yourself that is at least 1,000px (pixels) wide.

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