James Burnham, '09, Named Rising Star

DC Rising Stars: James Burnham, 36

Employer: U.S. Supreme Court/Justice Neil Gorsuch Title and Practice Area: Law Clerk, Appellate and Strategic Litigation *Note: James was previously an attorney with the U.S. Justice Department, but left the DOJ on May 29, 2020, and began a clerkship with Justice Neil Gorsuch at the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 17.*

Describe your biggest win or accomplishment in practice.  My biggest win in practice remains our successful overturning of [former Virginia Gov.] Bob McDonnell’s criminal convictions by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court, including obtaining an unprecedented order from the court that kept McDonnell from having to report to prison while his appeal was pending. I was the lead associate on the case from before indictment to the Supreme Court and am incredibly proud of what we achieved.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your first year practicing law? I learned that being able to write lucidly and clearly is vital to success as a lawyer. Whether it is a brief that will be filed in court, a memo for a client, or just an email to more senior lawyers, it became clear to me immediately that one’s analysis is only persuasive if the reader doesn’t get trapped in turgid writing. People are busy and meandering memos (or briefs) do not get read.

Read more at the original publication