J. Scholefield, P.E. Esq.
Pam graduated from University of San Diego School of
Law in 1998. Her decision to become an attorney was not
one taken lightly. She chose to give up a promising corporate
career and follow her interest in the law.
She went full time for the first year, and finding that
law school was not as demanding as expected, she was lured
away from full-time status to part-time status by being
offered a job from one of her previous distributors. The
electrical industry was well aware of Pam's product knowledge
and did not want to lose her anytime soon. She decided
to complete her legal education on a part-time basis.
As a student by night, and a GE product specialist during
the day, she completed her legal schooling only 6 months
later than a full time student.
Pam graduated with honors, was the executive editor of
the San Diego Law Review, tutored at-risk students and
wrote for the school newspaper while at USD.
Rather than follow the typical path of going to work
for a large law firm, she decided that she had already
experienced enough of the corporate bueracracy with GE,
she struck out on her own. Deep down, she knew that she
would be able to make a more significant impact by serving
those she came to know when she worked within the electrical
Over the years, Pam has stayed true to her beliefs and
has become one of the few practitioners that know construction
law inside and out. She knows how the business of construction
works, and often guides clients to make smart business
decisions rather than just exercising their legal rights.
She knows that manufacturers handles problems differently
than contractors and can help bring things to a quick
resolution when dealing with technical problems. She has
made it a point to surround herself with staff that has
direct construction experience, who help make a legal
dispute go much more efficiently
Over time, Pam has realized that may disputes or problems
usually arise from some weakness in the documents or procedures.
Construction contracts are important, just as good documentation
goes a long way toward preventing litigation problems.
Because of this, Pam has made a special effort to offer
training and education to clients and anyone in the construction
She is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education
seminars, construction trade groups, conducts contract
classes for apprenticeship programs and provides customized
training programs for construction businesses. Her dozens
of articles on various aspects of construction law can
be found in publications such as the San Diego Daily Transcript,
Professional Engineer Magazine, Contractor News &
Views, American Concrete Institute newsletters.
As someone who came from another industry to the legal
world, Pam believes there is much to apply from other
business models. She is a strong supporter of changing
the way attorneys bill clients to make it more of a risk
sharing experience. Nearly all other industries operate
in a much more balanced environment, and Pam is making
strides to implement corporate best practices into the
world of law. From a lawyer's perspective, she is marching
to the beat of a different drummer. As a business person
with corporate experience, Pam sees it as doing what should
have been done all along.
Pam started out as an entry level engineer with General
Electric, on a prestigious executive track program (the
Manufacturing Management Program). One of her more memorable
assignments at a factory in Boston in charge of a particular
aircraft cockpit instrument used in Av-8B Harrier VTOL
jets. Her role was to assure that final testing was performed
as required. She quickly learned the ins and outs of precision
electronics and government regulations.
Her next assignment was in North Carolina, a little more
high tech, in that her job was to automate a panelboard
manufacturing plant. Her task was to assure that the automation
system was installed in a timely manner and would perform
as expected. Little did she know at the time, that she
would be working for the division that sold this product
to the electrical industry. Because of the this factory
experience she was one of few people who could literally
say that they knew exactly how the product was made.
She had the opportunity to move to a GE sales office
in Denver, leaving the factory life behind. She now knew
what the panelboard was used for, and became involved
in nearly aspect of electrical power distribution products.
It was in Denver that Pam really became exposed to the
construction industry through the various GE industrial
products distribution channels.
Pam was eventually offered the Area Manager position
in San Diego, which is how she came to California. She
came well prepared for the marketplace and quickly became
an authority on the technical aspects of power distribution
Pam graduated from the University of Florida with an
undergraduate degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering.
For those that are not familiar with this discipline,
it is commonly found in manufacturing where the emphasis
is on process improvement, efficiency and optimization.
The same skills also are often used in business environments
to improve the process when achieving a particular goal,
whether it is a paperwork, information or procedure function.
Hospitals often apply industrial engineering to improve
their ability to effectively serve more patients with
the given resources. In the hospital environment, it could
be a matter of life or death, so process improvement is
given high priority.
Most aspects of industrial engineering are applied every
day in a construction environment. Since time is money,
and efficiency is much sought after, things like CPM and
project scheduling analysis become the center of focus
when there is a construction delay claim. Industrial engineering
is exactly what is used to analyze these situations.
A significant part of industrial engineering training
involves computer programming, and the ability to think
logically. Anyone who has experience at writing computer
programs, knows that a change in one part of the program
may produce a surprising result in another. Logically,
when analyzed, it makes sense, but on the surface it may
not be apparent.
Pam applies this logical thinking style to analyzing
complex construction problems and contracts. Often there
are numerous terms and conditions that all inter-relate.
The same thought process goes for applying the laws, as
convoluted as they may be. This is a distinct advantage
for complicated problems.
She has found that the ability to verbalize the complexities
into an easy to understand and logically sound argument
goes a long way toward success in law. This is where Pam
believes that many attorneys with training other than
a technical field often have difficulty applying and conveying
terms in a clear and logical manner.
While working for GE, Pam went through all the steps
to sit for her Professional Engineering license. After
5 years of "engineer in training" status, she
passed the PE exam on the first try. Overall, the number
of licensed engineers is very small compared to the number
of graduates, but some industries, especially construction,
the need for a PE license is still strong, if not mandatory
in some areas.
Based on her extensive background and proven experience,
Pam was selected to teach a graduate course at the SDSU
J.R. Filanc Construction and Engineering Management Program
in Spring 2011. Course taught: Construction Claims Con
E 654 covering all aspects of claims found in construction
projects, from identification of risk, through evaluating
and effectively presenting and defending claims and challenges
in ADR styled formats.
Telephone: 619-544-0086 ext. 102