Oral History of Ruth C. Burg

After twenty-two years as an Administrative Judge at the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, Ruth C. Burg acted as a neutral in alternative dispute resolution matters, serving as a mediator, neutral advisor, or arbitrator on contract matters, public and private, or as an expert witness or consultant on public contract matters. Appointed to the Armed Services Board in 1972, she retired in February 1995. She was awarded many honors, including the D.C. Bar Association Beatrice Rosenberg Award for outstanding Government service, the George Washington University Law Alumni Association Fulbright Award for public service, the Distinguished Alumni Award from George Washington University, the "Star of the Bar" award by the District of Columbia Women's Bar Association in 2002, and most recently was the first recipient of the American Bar Association Public Contract Law Section Fellows Spirit of Leadership award. The Public Contract Law Section of the American Bar Association created an annual Ruth C. Burg Luncheon honoring Women in Government Contracting and open to all. She was an acknowledged expert in complex cost accounting and major construction issues.

A graduate of George Washington University Columbian College, she received her Juris Doctor cum laude from that University's School of Law, graduating first in her class. In addition to serving as an Editor of the Law Review, other honors include election to Order of the Coif, the John Bell Larner award, and scholarships for her undergraduate and her law school studies. Early in her career, she specialized in Federal Taxation, serving as a law clerk to Judge Stephen E. Rice of the Tax Court of the United States, the first woman to serve in a Tax Court clerkship.

After leaving the Tax Court, Judge Burg practiced tax law in the District of Columbia and Maryland. In order to give more time to her children, in 1965, she became the part time legal assistant to the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Board of Contract Appeals and continued in that capacity until her appointment to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.

Judge Burg was active in legal and community organizations. She was the founding president of a chapter of B'nai B'rith Women. She served as International President of Phi Sigma Sigma Fraternity, one of the first sororities founded and open to women of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. She served on the Board of Advisors of the Federal Contract Reports and on the Court of Federal Claims Advisory Council and is presently a member of their Friends of the Court. Her major bar activities have been with the American Bar Association, where she is a Past Chair (1984-1985) and a Fellow of the Public Contract Law Section, a life Fellow of the American Bar Association Foundation, and a former member of the Standing Committee on Judicial Selection, Tenure and Compensation. Using a grant from the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government, she co-chaired a committee which, in cooperation with the National Judicial Center, developed a demonstration project for use of Court appointed scientific and technical experts. She has written and lectured extensively, primarily in the area of public contract law. She has been listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who of American Women.

Judge Burg and her husband, Maurice, a world renowned medical researcher at the National Institutes of Health, enjoyed spending time and traveling with their four children, two sons, and two daughters; their children's spouses; and their three grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoyed needlepoint, weaving, and fly fishing for trout with her husband at their vacation home in Montana.

Related Articles:

Ruth Burg Obituary, (October 29, 2023),

Hon. Ruth Cooper Burg, A.B.A.: Previous Margaret Brent Women Law. Achievement Award Recipients, See video of introduction and acceptance speech.