Nicholas “Chip” Retson ’69 on leadership and success

Nicholas “Chip” Retson ’69 of Centreville, Va., gained early law experience in the Army. He has held wideranging legal leadership positions related to the contracting system. He spent 28 years as an Army Judge Advocate officer, retiring as a Colonel. He taught contract law at the Army JAG School, and was trial team chief and later Army chief trial attorney, handling all Army contract litigation before the Board of Contract Appeals, and chief counsel for the Army’s Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

After retiring from the Army, he was Deputy General Counsel, then General Counsel for the Defense Contract Management Command whose 11,000 employees are deployed worldwide and are the defense department’s interface with the industries supplying materials to the defense department.

Retson now serves as legal adviser to the Defense Acquisition Regulations System, the organization within the Department of Defense that helps write all contracting regulations and standard clauses.

“The Rule of Law is the common denominator that allows America’s people from an amazingly wide range of cultures, races, economic levels and religions, to be able to live and work in a country that respects, or even encourages differences,” Retson says. “I have always approached my work with the idea that it is my job to help somebody else succeed. When I see an organization, a project, etc., succeed in its goal and mission because of individuals to whom I have provided counsel — that’s when I feel good.”


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