Last year Tom Barham, SCS Engineers’ General Counsel and Field Services Construction Director made headlines at SCS with his admission to the United States Supreme Court Bar. We are extremely proud of Tom!
This month Tom had the opportunity to have lunch with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as part of a fireside chat sponsored by the Association of Corporate Counsel. The discussion was led by Ted Olsen, a former Solicitor General of the United States who has argued 62 cases before the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg was remarkably open and candid about her career and generous with her advice, including sharing advice from her mother in law on how to have a successful marriage, which she noted as “the best advice she ever received.”
As a pioneer in women’s rights and civil rights in America, Justice Ginsburg was involved in many important cases as an advocate and a judge. Asked about which cases stood out, she recalled a case challenging Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) male only cadet policy. She noted that this was one case Mr. Olsen lost 7-1 and the one vote he got was from Justice Scalia who was already was on VMI’s side and needed no more advocacy to secure his opinion. (According to Mr. Olsen, RBG is known for her “wicked sense of humor”.) The case was memorable not for its legal precedent, but because of correspondence from the family of a female cadet. The female cadet’s father, a Marine and VMI graduate, wrote Justice Ginsburg to thank her for helping to create the opportunity for his daughter to attend VMI.
Subsequently, another letter from the daughter arrived with a Keydet pin which the daughter received upon graduation. The pin traditionally is given to the mother of the graduate, but since the cadet’s mother passed away before her graduation, the cadet sent it to Justice Ginsburg explaining that the Justice was like the grandmother to her and all future generations of female cadets. Justice Ginsburg keeps the letter and pin on her desk at the Supreme Court.
On how to have a successful marriage, Justice Ginsberg’s mother in law advised that it is best sometimes to be deaf to things you don’t want to hear, and handed her a pack of earplugs. Justice Ginsburg explained she has found that advice very helpful, choosing to be deaf to unpleasant things sometimes said.
“When you think about it, it was remarkable to have an opportunity to have lunch with a sitting Supreme Court Justice,” said Tom. “I even had an opportunity to ask for her advice on teaching fundamentals of the Constitution and our legal system to the international students in the class I teach in the University of Maryland Graduate School of Civil Engineering. Maybe I can get The Notorious RBG to guest lecture next semester?”
About Tom Barham
Mr. Barham is SCS Engineers General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Construction Services. He is a member of the Virginia and District of Columbia bars, and holds a degree in building construction. He has over 30 years of experience in construction and construction law.
Mr. Barham provides SCS Field Services with expertise in construction management, including procurement, scheduling, budgeting, and estimating, as well as other contract formation and administration activities.
Mr. Barham has directed several full service (design/build) projects and has been involved in numerous projects such as Landfill Gas (LFG) collection systems (blower/flare stations, extraction wells, horizontal collection trenches, header lines, and condensate collecting/containment systems); groundwater pump and treat systems (stripping towers, recharge galleries, groundwater wells, deep recharge wells, collection/distribution piping, and pump stations); bio-treatment facilities (containment areas, moisture/nutrient application, and soil mixing); underground storage tanks (excavation, testing, triple rinse, and restoration); soil vapor extraction systems (cat/ox treatment facilities, vapor extraction wells, collection header lines, and air make-up wells).