For full video interview, please email Jennie Meade at email@example.com.
Administrative Judge (retired) Ruth Cooper Burg was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1926. Intending to be a doctor, she graduated from the George Washington University with a B.S. in chemistry (1945) and attended the George Washington University School of Medicine (1945-1946). A change in professional goals brought her to GW Law, where she graduated first in her class (1950), the first woman to do so. At GW, Judge Burg was taxation editor of the George Washington Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.
In 1950, she became the first woman Attorney-Adviser assigned to a judge on the Tax Court of the United States (1950-1953), and later settled into private practice (1953), where she handled construction and federal taxation matters until 1965. From 1965 to 1972 she was Assistant to the Chairman, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Board of Contract Appeals, becoming the first woman to hold this position.
In 1972, Judge Burg became the first woman appointed as Administrative Judge and Division Head of the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, where she presided at all levels of administrative adjudicatory construction and commercial disputes. She served on the Board until her retirement in 1995. Since 1995, Judge Burg has focused on her work as a private neutral in alternative dispute resolution proceedings, and as a consultant and expert witness in public contract matters.
In addition to the many “firsts” chronicled above as a woman in the legal profession, Judge Burg became the first woman chair of the American Bar Association Section of Public Contract Law (1984).
Her many honors include the Margaret Brent Women of Achievement Award (2008), the George Washington University Distinguished Alumna Award (2002), the Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Public Service (2000), and the Fulbright Award for Public Service (2000).
She has written and lectured extensively, primarily on government contract issues, and in 2016 she published her memoirs, My Book of Ruth.
Judge Burg is noted for her outstanding long-term leadership in promoting the role of women in the legal profession, especially in government contract positions, and she is regarded as a role model and mentor by countless women in the profession.
Jennie C. Meade, Director of Special Collections
Thursday, May 19, 2016, in the Dean's Parlor at GW Law.