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Oral History Project: Interview Subjects: Paul Dembling

Photo of Jerome A. Barron Photo of James M. Brown Photo of Ruth C. Burg Photo of Paul G. Dembling Photo of Jack H. Friedenthal Photo of Thomas A. Morrison Photo of Ralph Clarke Nash, Jr. Photo of Arnold W. Reitze, Jr. Photo of David Robinson, Jr. Photo of Lewis A. Schiller Photo of Teresa Moran Schwartz Photo of Eric Scott Sirulnik Photo of Robert V. Stanek Photo of James E. Starrs Photo of David B. Weaver Photo of Glen E. Weston

Paul G. Dembling

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About The Narrator: Paul G. Dembling (1920-2011)

Paul Gerald Dembling was born in Rahway, NJ, on January 11, 1920. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1940 and a master’s degree in 1942 from Rutgers University. He earned his JD in 1951 from the George Washington University Law School, where he was an editor of the law review.

Mr. Dembling served the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in a number of capacities. After serving as General Counsel to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s precursor, he became the first Chairman of the NASA Board of Contract Appeals, and later General Counsel to NASA. Under Administrator James Webb, he headed NASA’s Legislative Affairs office. In 1968, Mr. Dembling received NASA’s highest award: the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Before retiring in 1969, he served as a Deputy Associate Administrator.

His legal career included the General Counsel post at the General Accounting Office, a fifteen-year partnership (and later senior counsel relationship) with the law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, and a long association with GW Law as a professorial lecturer in law, teaching courses such as The International Law of Air and Space, and Legal Protection Against Technological Hazards.

His many contributions to the legal profession include service to the American Bar Association as Chairman of the ABA Model Procurement Code Coordinating Committee, and Chairman of the Public Contract Law Section, as well as long and distinguished service to the Federal Bar Association.

Mr. Dembling died May 16, 2011, at the age of 91.

About This Interview


Allan Stypeck of Second Story Books (Washington, DC, and Rockville, MD).

Interview Date/Location:

In 2001, in the Library Director's office, Jacob Burns Law Library, GW Law.


Paul G. Dembling (JD ’51), the principal architect and author of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, and later General Counsel to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), donated his professional papers to the Law Library in 2001. This oral history was conducted in conjunction with the Law Library’s receipt of Mr. Dembling’s papers, now the Dembling NASA and Government Procurement Collection. Mr. Dembling discusses the legal background of NASA and the events leading to its creation, as well as the key participants in the evolution of NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), into NASA. He also discusses intellectual property issues relating to NASA contract work, and provides an overview of the coverage of his professional papers, which span fifty years (1942-1992).


JACOB Catalog Record