Alumni from WPI inducted as Supreme Court Bar members meet Justices Roberts and Ginsburg

Seventeen alumni that were inducted the previous week as members of the Supreme Court Bar in an event organized in the university were finalized with visits from Justice Ruth Glader Ginsburg and Justice John Roberts.

A motion was moved by David Bunis, the WP Senior Vice President on June 18 which was a Monday morning around 10:25 for the inauguration of the seventeen alumni which will individually name them as members of the bar. During the reading of the oath by Scott Harris, the Clerk of the Supreme Court, the members comprising four women and thirteen men lifted their right hands while standing some meters away from the bench.

Mathew Thaler of WPI General Counsel Office, Jefferey Snider, the wife of one of the alumni, Deborah Philips were all declared admitted during the event, by Chief Justice Roberts who banged his gavel to finalize the proceedings.

Later on, Boris indicated that becoming a member of the Supreme Court Bar is among the highest honor any attorney practicing law in the US could have and it was an honor for him to stand in the presence of the nine justices representing the WPI lawyer alumni who followed him and President Leshin to Washington D.C.

It is important for an attorney who contends with cases to be admitted to the bar. It also allows members to contend with cases in their section within the courtroom. Even though get admitted to the bar is based on how fast you get seated, it usually has a shorter line than that of the public that is associated with high limitations. The Supreme Court Bar library can also be freely accessed by members.

Eligibility for induction into the Supreme Court Bar requires members to have a good relationship with their state bars for a minimum of three years as well as an excellent character and comportment when appearing in the Supreme Court. Two sponsors present in the Supreme Court bar must also be provided by the applicant.

The steps of the applicants from WPI to a legal career are usually different. Few focus on the law school before they even finish as an undergraduate in the WPI while others considered law to be an opportunity to take full advantage of their chosen profession. However, it is usually common for bar members that are newly admitted to giving credit to the WPI plan as well as the project-based education that has prepared them for the challenges associated with the law education and the legal profession.

Maximizing Impact

Lindsay Gage McGuinness ’86 indicated that analytical thinking and problem-solving ability are required to be a lawyer and an engineer and he was prepared to work on very tight timelines by project-based tasks and short quarters. There were fewer women when he was working at WPI which he was able to interact successfully with individuals in a different profession.

McGuiness with a major in electrical engineering as well as a minor in computer engineering was a hardware engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation and simultaneously taking night classes at the Suffolk University Law School for four years. She later became a patent specialist at Greenfield & Sacks, Wolf in Boston, and later on at Nortel Networks in Billerica as an in house specialist. She later established a private patent practice with a friend in Acton. She recently became the chief patent counsel and vice president at Hologic’s medical device maker.

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Jon Anderson ’75 with a chemical engineering major was already aware that after he graduated from WPI as an undergraduate, he would proceed to a law school. He searched for a suitable university that would prepare him in advance for Yale law. He stated that he was well aware of the plan which was a new development and he intends on having a broader education because he was aware that he won’t be an engineer and it would enable him to be in charge of his education.

He continued that he always wanted a self-starter which he achieved through project-based education. He was able to start his law firm and he collaborated with his wife later on to establish a B&B which he never learned from anybody.

Kristin (Deming) Wheeler ’93 who is a top patent counsel at the Titleist golf brand’s holding company called Acushnet Co. She was a member of the Art and Scient Advisory Board of WPI since 2013.

Wheeler, who majored in mechanical engineering indicated that Professor Kent Rosemiller taught her institutional as a freshman which she fascinated and made her became interested in law. She collaborated with Pratley and Whitney to establish a manufacturing corporation and later proceeded to Franklin Peirce Center for Intellectual Property’s law school at the University of Hampshire. She stated that she was aware she would do patent law and she believed WPI was responsible for getting her ready to properly adapt with law with its project-based, practical education. The intellectual procession for law and engineering is the same and the practicality of WPI can be compared to that of Franklin Pierce.

David Nickless ’74, who was majored in chemical engineering proceeding for a stint in the Army as well as Suffolk Law after which he became a bankruptcy attorney Fort Lauderdale. He was inaugurated alongside Deborah Philips, his wife as well as a partner when establishing the financial and bankruptcy agency, Nickless, Phillips & O’Connor. He indicated that he received the necessary law skills during his time at WPI.

He stated that organizational and critical thinking skills re very crucial for practicing law.

The group returned to a conference room after the induction where Chief Justice Roberts later visited and congratulated them by offering a historical point of view on a few chief justices who had their portraits hanging on the walls of the conference room. One William Howard Haft who worked under a New York governor, as well as the president of the U.S. from 1909 to 1913, dominated a certain end of the room. He was a chief justice until 1031 having first appointed in 1921 to the Supreme Court.

Roberts continued that Taft’s office follows that of the president and he primarily wanted to become chief justice. A Worcester was indicated by President Leshin by describing Taft who was an impressive golfer and how he was involved in a significant golf tournament in 1914 at the Worcester Country Club where he got the honor of hitting the first drive.

Not long after the exit of Roberts, Justice Ginsburg also paid them a visit as he had already chatted with the alumni and Leshin for about 2 minutes. He was informed by Leshin that the university celebrated her 150th recently and offered a STEM-inist mug to Ginsburg.

Leshin stated that the presentation focused on honoring their pioneering spirit and the world and the women at the WPI have been increasing exponentially with pride and a proud geek of all genders.

She continued by pointing to the portrait gallery that she had hopes that a woman would also be among the portraits on the wall.

This event was the first-ever taking place at the WPI, which was arranged by Bunis with the assistance of the Division of University Advancement.

Innovative spirits

In an evening session before the event in the courtroom, Leshin welcomed the alumni and those in attendance, by giving them an update on the latest campus developments. She pointed out the outcomes from the alumni survey by stating the positive impact of the off-campus project work has on them personally and relationship-wise as well as their point of view about life. Not long after getting to WPI a few years back, Leshin’s objective was to acquire 90% of undergraduates involved in the off-campus project tasks. Also, 100 percent of the class of 2022 will participate in a minimum of one off-campus project.

She stated that these things are carried out to make WPI a leader in the edu, considering its 48 years of project-based learning which they are confident is an excellent approach. She continued by indicating that WPI is using the institute of Project-Based Learning to teach other institutions to implement a curriculum of project-based learning.

She indicated that the week was a project-based learning’s 4th annual Summer Institute and 26 institutions were providing about four to five faculties to the WPI to learn from them for some days in order to develop their project-based learning plan in their curriculum. She continued that they have collaborated with more than 90 universities over the last few years and have been able to train about a million students, which is an excellent method of scaling up their recognition and reputation.

“I believe that I was well prepared by WPI through its project-based practical learning had helped me adapt properly as the intellectual processes of law and engineering are the same”. Kristin Deming Wheeler ’93.

Although most of the members of the Supreme Court bar from WPI indicated that they currently cannot contend with a case before the court, but their current status was something to be proud of.

Nickless commenting about the ceremony stated that it was something to be proud of, she was previously at the Arlington National Cemetery which was restricted. It was very fascinating and an apex of the bar and the only better experience is when contending a case before them.

James Atkinson ’69, a top staff counsel who has retired from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority indicated that he would prefer to experience contending a case in court with his privileges. He stated that it was a great honor and even if he won’t argue a case, becoming a member of the Supreme Court was enough of an achievement.

Wheeler cited a case that was contended in the supreme court when she was still in law school. She stated that it was an honor to be inducted as a member of the Supreme Court and her family was very happy about it, especially the opportunity to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg which was very cool.

Anderson indicated that the learning derived from WPI was better than that of Yale Law and commended the university for putting the event together.

He stated that WPI did a wonderful thing by bringing them together and he had fun connecting. He continued that the honor was fulfilling, especially towards the end of his career as he was the last individual to be considered for admission and he would at least be the latest member of the Supreme Court bar for a week.

The following members were inducted into the Supreme Court bar


William Anthony ’61- Mechanical Engineering

Jon Anderson ’75 – Chemical Engineering

James Atkinson ’69 – Civil Engineering

James Behmke ’00 – Electrical Engineering

Paul Cleary ’71 – History of Science and Technology

James DeCarlo ’80 – Electrical Engineering

Robert Kilroy ’84 – Management

Michael Hagar ’98 – Civil Engineering

Sang Ki Lee ’60 – Electrical Engineering

Jodi McLane ’89 – Mechanical Engineering

Lindsay Gage McGuinness ’86 – Electrical Engineering

David Nickless ’74 – Chemical Engineering

Christine Biscotti Quitadamo ’01 – Chemical Engineering

John Ogorzalek ’61 – Chemical Engineering

Scott Sargis ’81 – Mechanical Engineering

Kristin Deming Wheeler ’93 – Mechanical Engineering

Brian Teague ’87 – Electrical Engineering


Matthew Thaler – WPI General Counsel

Jeffrey Snider – WPI General Counsel


Deborah Phillips (David Nickless) – Nickless, Phillips and O’Connor PC

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