Ruth Burg displays the fruits of her efforts on a fly-fishing vacation in New Zealand.
A Woman of Many Firsts
It's not easy to be a trailblazer, but the rewards are manifold. Just ask Ruth C. Burg, BS '45, JD '50, a woman of many firsts. Burg graduated number one in her GW Law School class, the first woman ever to do so. She was the first woman to clerk at the Tax Court of the United States, the first appointed an administrative judge at the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, and the first to chair the American Bar Association's Public Contract Law Section.
Throughout her illustrious career, she has never forgotten her alma mater, giving generously to the Law School over the years. Burg has now given a boost to GW's government procurement law program by changing the beneficiary of her SEP/IRA to GW Law School. The reason, in addition to myriad tax advantages, is simple. "GW was very good to me, so I always thought that I'd like to be as generous as I possibly could to the University," she says. As an undergraduate, Burg attended GW on a full scholarship, awarded in recognition of her status as valedictorian of her graduating class at Washington's Calvin Coolidge High School. She also received a full tuition scholarship her second and third years of law school. "It certainly lightened the burden," says Burg, who served as taxation editor of GW Law Review.
After a three-year clerkship at the Tax Court of the United States, Burg launched her career in private practice, specializing in construction and federal taxation matters. Widowed with two young children, she closed her practice to take a part-time position as assistant to the chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Board of Contract Appeals. "Mary Bunting had just been appointed commissioner of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and persuaded them to start a program for professional women on a part-time basis," she says. At the time, Burg confesses that she did not even know what government contract/procurement law was. "I had never come across it," she says. The job was a perfect fit, affording Burg the optimal blend of challenge and flexibility.
After seven years at the commission, Burg was appointed an administrative judge and, six years later, division head at the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, where she served with distinction for 22 years. "I'm honored to have been considered competent and capable to hear and decide some of the most complex cases on major cost issues," says Burg.
Although she says that she never considered herself a pioneer at the time, she's pleased to have forged new paths in the legal world for women. "As I look back, I'm glad that I achieved the success that I did, because it helped the women lawyers that followed me," she says, noting that in the early days of her career, a woman had to be better than the men she was competing against to get a position. "I've made it a point to mentor as many younger women in the field of law as possible, and I'm very proud of their achievements and accomplishments."
Bequeathing IRAs Can Yield Substantial Tax Advantages
An important fact to remember about the assets of a qualified retirement plan is that the entire amount is subject to income tax in the year the heirs receive the balance of the plan. Since qualified retirement plans are included in a decedent's taxable estate, this could actually expose the assets of a qualified retirement plan to double taxation—estate and income taxes, potentially reducing the bequest by 70 percent or more of its value. By leaving these assets to The George Washington University, they are removed from the taxable estate, and, of course, are not exposed to income tax. Other assets, such as appreciated securities, are better choices as bequests to heirs.
Burg attributes much of her success to her parents. "They were way ahead of their time," she says. "My sister, who is a world-renowned astronomer, and I were raised to believe that encouraged us to study and were determined that we would always be able to stand on our own two feet."
Eight years after retiring from the bench, Burg is still hard at work as a private mediator and arbitrator in alternative dispute resolution proceedings for major construction projects. In her spare time, she enjoys fly-fishing with her husband, Maurice, an acclaimed scientist at the National Institutes of Health. Favorite fly-fishing spots include New Zealand, Chile, and near the couple's summer home in Montana. "There's nothing like getting on a beautiful stream-quiet, peaceful, and relaxing-and casting your line out for fish," she says. "It's thrilling when you catch one, but I enjoy it even when I don't. It's wonderfully relaxing."
Recently elected to a four-year term on the board of directors of the GW Law Alumni Association, Burg received the Distinguished Alumna Achievement Award from the University in 2002, as well as the J. William Fulbright Award for Public Service from GW Law School in 2000. Awards have rained down on Burg for her professional achievements, including the prestigious Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Public Service from the District of Columbia Bar in 2000.
A much more personal award, however, stands out above all the others. "Several years ago, my teenage granddaughter had to write an essay about someone who had made a major impact on her life, and she wrote about me," says Burg. "She talked about how I had inspired her as a mentor, and by the time I finished reading it, I was in tears. It was the most wonderful tribute I could ever receive. The other awards I've received have been wonderful and exciting, but this was definitely the most meaningful. I truly consider it one of the most important contributions of my lifetime."
Jamie L. Freedman
Estate Expert Follows Own Advice
The decision could not have been easier for Paul H. Welch, BA '57, JD '60. After 35 years in the investment business, the president, CEO, and founder of Fiduciary Financial Services of the Southwest took the advice that he's given to countless clients over the decades and established a charitable remainder trust for the Law School.
"My wife, Barbara, and I decided to set up a charitable remainder trust to benefit both of our alma maters, GW and the College of William and Mary," says Welch, whose Dallas investment advisory firm manages some $225 million in assets for clients. "It's a very simple process, with many benefits. We get an income tax deduction up front, and if I predecease my wife, she has the peace of mind of knowing that she's assured of a regular income each month for the rest of her life."
It's no surprise that Welch included GW in his estate plans. A devoted alumnus, he received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University. "I had a good life at GW," says Welch, who was editor of the GW newspaper The Hatchet, as well as the Law School newspaper, Amicus Curiae, and managed Lisner Auditorium on a part-time basis. "GW is responsible for what I've achieved professionally. The University gave me the basic foundation to succeed."
Welch's career began with a three-year stint in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate Program, where he attained the rank of captain. "GW Law Dean Edward Potts was instrumental in getting me and my roommate, Michael Spence, into the Air Force JAGs," he notes. After completing his service, Welch landed a job as assistant general counsel of the National Association of Securities Dealers in Washington. "I met a lot of people in the industry during the five years that I worked there, and it soon became apparent to me that it would be a lot more fun to be on the business side of the profession than on the regulatory side," he says.
Charitable Remainder Trust Can Yield Secure, Steady Stream of Income
The Charitable Remainder Trust has the advantage of transforming appreciated low-yielding assets into a steady stream of secure income during the donor's and spouse's lives. The donor also benefits by avoiding capital gains taxes on the sale of the asset, as the trust accomplishes the sale. Finally, since the trust is irrevocably designated to benefit a charitable institution, the donor receives a charitable tax deduction upon the establishment and funding of the trust.
You may create a charitable remainder trust by irrevocably transferring cash, securities, and/or property to a trust for the Law School's benefit.
He moved into the investment business in 1968, serving as president of New England Life's mutual fund distribution subsidiary until moving to Dallas in 1972. Welch founded two trust companies in Dallas before opening his current firm in 1979. Since entering the business world, he's never looked back. "I enjoy working with people and seeing them reach their financial goals," he says. "It's rewarding to help people plan their finances and implement those plans, and I derive great satisfaction from seeing happy, satisfied clients."
GW Law, too, is now benefiting from Welch's expertise, following his recent election to the board of the GW Law Alumni Association. "I see it as an excellent opportunity to connect with and help out the Law School," he says. "The level of enthusiasm of the leaders at the Law School is catching, and I'm overwhelmed by the impressive opportunities and facilities that GW Law students have today. Achieving such a high level of success takes both hard work and money, and if we want to stay at the top, we all have to commit to putting whatever we can back in. It's payback time."
Jamie L. Freedman
The Power of Philanthropy
Power companies may be the legal specialty of Douglas E. Davidson, JD '71, but the devoted GW Law alumnus is now experiencing power of another kind. The former editor-in-chief of GW Law Review recently decided to put the power of deferred charitable gift annuities to work for him-making a generous gift in support of merit scholarships for GW Law students.
With a deferred charitable gift annuity, donors with no need for additional income today defer receiving payments until a later date, such as the beginning of their retirement. This provides them with two significant benefits: a larger tax deduction immediately and higher payments when they begin receiving the annuity. If funded with appreciated securities, capital gains tax can be partially avoided.
Charitable Gift Annuity: How It Works
A charitable gift annuity is a contract between you and GW, which guarantees an annuity for you or an individual you designate. You may fund a charitable gift annuity with cash, marketable securities, or real property. In return, the University makes regular fixed payments to you and/or your spouse for the rest of your lives. The transaction is both a purchase of an annuity and a charitable contribution.
A deferred charitable gift annuity enables you to receive an immediate income tax deduction for your gift, yet defer the receipt of income for a number of years determined by you. This type of gift is particularly advantageous for someone in his or her high-earning years who do does not need extra income but may want a larger tax deduction. Finally, when the payments begin they will be at a much higher level than that of an annuity that is not deferred. The income tax deduction for a deferred charitable gift annuity is larger than for a standard charitable gift annuity.
For Davidson, it's a perfect way of giving something back to GW Law. "The training, experience, and insight I received at GW provided me with the solid foundation that I needed to navigate through the challenges of private law practice and international transactions," he says. "I strongly believe that it's important for our alumni to recognize the opportunities GW has given them and support the school in whatever ways they can."
After graduating summa cum laude from GW Law School in 1971, Davidson moved to New York City, practicing for 30 years with Berlack Israels & Liberman, where he specialized in corporate securities law, energy finance and regulation, and international project finance, primarily for global electric utility companies. In May 2000, he and 13 colleagues moved to Thelen Reid & Priest, where he is vice chairman of the business and finance department and co-chairs the Energy, Utility, and Infrastructure Practice Group and the Latin American Practice Group.
Through the years, he has remained in close touch with his alma mater, serving on the board of the GW Law Alumni Association and on the Dean's Board of Advisors. A longtime, faithful donor, Davidson says that he reached the point in his professional career where he wanted to do even more for GW Law.
"In speaking with Dean Young and others, I gained a greater understanding of the need to recognize the achievements of those students who make significant strides in their legal education and to support their continued efforts through a scholarship program," he says. "A truly great law school, to be sure, must have superior facilities and an outstanding faculty and administration, but at the end of the day, the students and their successes go the longest way toward making the school a preeminent institution. I am pleased to be able to contribute to GW's success and reputation in such a meaningful way."
Jamie L. Freedman
A Texas-Sized Thank You
As technology transformed the world into a global community in recent years, Richard L. Donaldson, LLM '73, enjoyed a front row seat to the action. The recently retired senior vice president and general patent counsel of Texas Instruments spearheaded the company's intellectual property law efforts during the past three decades of explosive technological growth.
As a gesture of thanks to his alma mater for helping propel his IP career, the Plano, Texas, attorney recently made a $500,000 bequest to support GW Law's intellectual property law program. "I've enjoyed being affiliated with GW and wanted to give something back," says Donaldson, who retired from Texas Instruments in April 2000. "GW, in my view, is the number-one recognized school in IP law, and having a GW master of laws degree in patents and trade regulation certainly has helped me in my career. I feel very good about my education and experiences at GW, and I wanted to do what I could to help ensure the continuation of GW Law's tradition of excellence in the field."
During his 31-year career with Texas Instruments, Donaldson led the company's intellectual property law efforts worldwide, overseeing patent and technology licensing, patent acquisition, and copyright and trademark protection. In the course of his work, he regularly circled the globe, traveling to the Far East some 300 times to conduct licensing negotiations.
A special highlight of his years with Texas Instruments was working closely with Jack Kilby, who recently won the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the integrated circuit. Donaldson helped obtain the basic patent in Japan covering the integrated circuit and licensed the patent to the Japanese semiconductor industry. "It took nearly 30 years of arguments before the Japanese Patent Office and appeals courts to obtain the patent," he says. "There was a lot of legal maneuvering involved, but it was a really interesting experience going through the court proceedings in Japan to finally get the patent allowed."
Donaldson also was instrumental in licensing worldwide the basic Texas Instruments patent covering another of Kilby's inventions, the handheld electronic calculator.
Creating Legacy Through Charitable Bequests
A bequest to GW Law School creates a permanent, living legacy to benefit students, faculty, and their important academic endeavors. Each year, many alumni and friends of The George Washington University Law School decide to include GW in their estate plans. The will is among the most simple and flexible vehicles for charitable giving. Since a gift to the Law School removes that asset from the taxable estate, charitable bequests reduce one๊s estate taxes. The larger the potential estate tax, the greater the estate savings. To add to the simplicity, donors need not rewrite their wills to make a charitable gift upon their death. Rather, they can opt for a “codicil” to an existing will, which is both easier and more economical.
Another industry-altering project of Donaldson's was establishing a worldwide semiconductor-licensing program for Texas Instruments. "I had direct responsibility for implementing a licensing program for Texas Instruments patents covering the personal computer, which changed the way that patents were valued in the semiconductor industry," says Donaldson. "People previously entered into loyalty-free, cross-licensing agreements. We came up with a way of putting a value on patents, and Texas Instruments has licensed virtually every IC and PC manufacturer in the world and has received substantial net royalty income as a result."
Donaldson thoroughly enjoyed the teaching aspect of his position as general counsel of Texas Instruments, where he oversaw a staff of 50 attorneys. During his tenure there, Donaldson established training programs for young lawyers and set up a visual mentoring program. "I found it extremely rewarding to interact with young attorneys and help them get started in their careers," he says.Three years after his retirement from Texas Instruments, Donaldson is as busy as ever, enjoying a thriving consulting business as an expert witness in patent litigation. GW Law, too, is reaping the benefits of Donaldson's expertise as a member of the Dean's Intellectual Property Advisory Board at GW. "Serving on the IP Advisory Board was an opportunity for me to bring practical, real-world experience into the decision-making process to help shape and guide GW's IP law curriculum," he says. "I've always been interested in academia and am pleased to be able to play a part in helping provide students with the training they need to be successful lawyers."
Jamie L. Freedman
Public Interest ... Double Your Money
Did you know that if you give a gift to support GW's public interest programs this year, your gift will be doubled by Dean Young?
Last year, Dean Young decided it was important to commit more resources to our public interest programs by offering a challenge. He will match every gift received from members of the Classes of 1990 through 2002 dollar for dollar for Law School public interest programs.
The Law School has never before committed so much to this important endeavor, and we are seeing a substantial increase in support as a result.
Your gift and Dean Young's match will truly make a significant impact on all of our public interest programs, including Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics, LRAP, D.C. Law Students in Court, Pro Bono, and Summer Subsidy programs.
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