ACCL Membership Directory

Robert B. Thum

  • Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master
  • Retired Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  • P.O. Box 438
  • Solvang, California 93464


  • Undergraduate: A.B. Princeton University /1967
  • Law School: J.D. Cornell Law School / 1970

Career History

1970-71         Associate, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey

1971-74         Special Court Martial Judge, United States Marine Corps

1974-94         Partner, Pettit & Martin LLP

1994-2008     Partner, Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges LLP

2008-10         Partner, Howrey LLP

2011-22         Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Professional Activities

Robert B. Thum is an Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master in Los Angeles and Retired Partner of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.  He graduated from Princeton University cum laude in 1967 with an A.B. degree in History, and received his J.D. degree in 1970 from The Cornell Law School where he was Editor of the Cornell Law Review.  He served as a Special Court Martial Judge in the United States Marine Corps (Judge Advocate Division), before returning to civilian practice with Pettit & Martin.  His law practice has focused on litigation/arbitration of construction claims, troubled project counseling, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.  At Pettit & Martin and Thelen Marrin Johnson & Bridges in San Francisco and later Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Los Angeles, he handled construction matters across the United States, including transportation (rail, airports, highways/bridges), infrastructure (dams, tunnels, aqueducts, pipelines), power (nuclear, fossil fuel, solar and hydro power plants, transmission lines), as well as industrial plants, hospitals, labs and academic buildings, luxury hotels and resorts, high rise buildings and commercial facilities of all sorts.

Mr. Thum has been an Arbitrator for over 35 years, currently serving on the American Arbitration Association’s National Construction, Large Complex Disputes and Megaproject Panels and the State of California Office of Administrative Hearings’ Public Contract Arbitration Panel.  He has served as an Early Neutral Evaluator and a Referee/Special Master in complex construction litigation matters.

Mr. Thum has been regularly ranked First Band in Chambers USA, as well as Who’s Who Legal, Legal 500 and Super Lawyers (Northern and Southern California).  He was named Best Lawyers’ 2017 “Construction Lawyer of the Year – Los Angeles” and 2019 “Construction Lawyer of the Year – Los Angeles”.

Professional Affiliations

ABA Forum on Construction Law; ABA Sections of Public Contract Law and Litigation; State Bar of California, Real Estate and Construction Section; Association of Business Trial Lawyers; Associated General Contractors; and The Beavers.

Representative Articles, Publications, Speeches and Seminars

Co-author, Practical Construction Law (Fed. Pub. 2016)

Author, “Contribution, Equitable Indemnity and Good Faith Settlement: in Construction Contracts, Defects and Litigation (CA CEB 2013)

Co-author, California Construction Law (Fed Pub. 2009)

Author, “The Authority to Issue Changes”, in Construction Change Order Claims (Wiley 2005)

Co-author, “Trying a Complex Construction Case to a Jury” (ABA Forum on Construction Law 2004)

Author, “Construction Defects” in California Construction Contracts and Disputes (California CEB 2000)

Co-author, Handbook of California Construction Law (AGC of California 1993)

Court Admissions

Supreme Court of Ohio 1970

U.S. Court of Military Appeals 1971

Supreme Court of California 1974

U.S. Supreme Court  1975

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, various U.S. Courts of Appeals and U.S. District Courts

Community Activities

ACE Mentor Program

Board of Directors, Town Hall Theater

President, Board of Directors, Lafayette Arts & Sciences Foundation

President, Board of Directors, Piedmont Children’s Choirs

Commissioner, City of Berkeley, Parks and Recreation

President, Berkeley Rowing Club

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