In Memoriam: Frederick James Lees

Photo of empty classroom
July 31, 2020

Frederick James Lees, the E.K. Gubin Professor Emeritus of Government Contracts Law, passed away on Friday, July 17, 2020, at the age of 89.

Professor Lees was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, attended the University of Virginia on a Naval ROTC scholarship, and upon graduation was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy and served in the Korean War. Upon his discharge from active service in the Navy, he became a patent examiner at the US Patent and Trademark Office. While working there, he earned his JD from the American University Washington College of Law. 

Professor Lees then spent 24 years practicing patent and contracting law at NASA, throughout its Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs, eventually serving concurrently as the Chief Administrative Judge of the NASA Board of Contract Appeals and the Chair of the NASA Inventions and Contributions Board and earning an Exceptional Service Medal from the agency.

In 1985, he joined the GW Law faculty. He became a co-director of the Government Procurement Law program in 1993 and was appointed as the E.K. Gubin Professor of Government Contracts Law in 1995. 

Professor Lees played an instrumental role in bringing the Public Contract Law Journal to the law school, and in creating what is now the Cuneo Government Contracts Moot Court Competition. He also stewarded and raised the profile of the Government Procurement Law Program, from expanding the curriculum to teaching hundreds of students in both degree and continuing education programs; supervising numerous student theses; and serving many roles in litigation, dispute resolution, and policymaking. 

He became a Professor Emeritus at the end of the 2002-03 academic year but remained active in the government contracts field for years after that.