Practice Group Details


Burke, Williams & Sorensen maintains a full-service litigation practice, covering over a dozen specialized areas of the law. Of the firm’s 100-plus lawyers, over 75 practice in litigation, trials, arbitrations, and appeals. Our litigators have prosecuted, defended, and tried cases in state and federal courts, including bankruptcy courts, throughout the state of California and, when called for, in matters venued in other states. Carrying on the tradition of the firm’s founders, two of whom were justices on the California Supreme Court, the firm’s appellate counsel have handled appeals in the state Courts of Appeal, the state Supreme Court, federal circuit courts, and the United States Supreme Court. We often write amicus briefs on behalf of clients on important issues of first impression.

Burke’s Litigation Practice Group has handled cases in a broad spectrum of subject areas, including: contract disputes and general commercial litigation, public law litigation, real estate, commercial tenancies, labor and employment, construction, environmental and land use, insurance, constitutional law, securities, bankruptcy, financial services, business torts, personal injury and products liability, intellectual property, and professional malpractice. In all areas of litigation practice, Burke lawyers are experienced in arbitrations, mediations, and all forms of alternative dispute resolution. 

Due to our extensive practices in public law and litigation, environmental and land use, and labor and employment matters, our lawyers have handled hundreds of administrative proceedings before state and federal tribunals and involving dozens of regulatory agencies. Especially in the labor and employment area, Burke lawyers have successfully defended numerous class-action lawsuits.

Burke is committed to developing and maintaining a first-tier group of skilled trial lawyers. Several of our litigators have served as prosecutors for the U.S. Department of Justice, the California Attorney General’s office, county district attorneys, or local governments. As a result, our senior litigation attorneys have extensive experience in trial work. More than a dozen of our litigators have tried twenty or more jury trials, bench trials, and binding arbitrations. Several are members of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and others belong to specialized trial lawyer associations. We encourage and provide training and opportunities for our junior attorneys to participate in trials in a second-chair role early in their careers.

We recognize that litigation can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful for our clients. Much of our work in litigation is dedicated to avoiding unnecessary litigation activity, through early case analysis, mediation, settlement, and – especially – counseling our clients in ways to avoid or manage the risk of litigation. For example, our litigators have conducted hundreds of seminars to assist clients in handling sensitive or complex issues with the least possible risk of an administrative claim or lawsuit. Members of our experienced Public Law Practice Group provide the same services for the firm’s public entity clients.

Burke’s philosophy in managing complex litigation is simple: we handle every case on the assumption that it will go to trial. This approach, we believe, promotes the best possible outcome at trial and, in cases where compromise is appropriate, leads to the most favorable settlement value. We fully respect our clients’ natural concerns over managing the expense of litigation. Whether requested or not, it is our practice to provide our clients with litigation expense estimates and to update those estimates as litigation proceeds. Unlike many larger firms, our staffing of litigation matters is generally lean, with only one or two attorneys handling most cases. Where the size or stakes involved in a particular case warrant heavier forces, Burke has the personnel and resources to quickly and effectively draw from its offices state-wide to ensure that our clients receive representation that is equal to the task at hand.

Given our extensive trial experience with complex litigation matters, we employ the latest technology in document collection, storage, retrieval, and imaging, with cloud-based capabilities that allow our clients to upload important documents and electronic data easily and securely, while providing clients ready access to information about their cases. We employ the same approach at trial, using the most effective means of presenting evidence, through video technology, electronically displayed trial graphics, animations, as well as traditional trial boards and hard-copy exhibits – all tailored specifically to the witnesses and, most importantly, the trier-of-fact. With the large number of litigators at Burke, we have access to a wide range of expert witnesses, supplemented by the experience of lawyers who have actually used the experts in pre-trial and trial situations.

Members of Burke’s Litigation Practice Group are active in leading bar associations, including the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association Litigation Section and Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section, as well as the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, Orange and other County Bar Associations.