Donald Burris

Mr. Burris, the senior founding partner in the AV-rated firm of Burris & Schoenberg, LLP, has been actively involved in a sophisticated national and international business litigation and business law practice for almost fifty (50) years. Mr. Burris in an honors graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he finished at the top of his class and served as Editor in Chief of Volume 57 of the Georgetown Law Journal. He was initially based in Washington, D.C. and has maintained his principal office in Los Angeles and resided in Santa Monica since 1976.  He is admitted to practice in California, the District of Columbia, various other federal jurisdictions and the State of Maryland and is a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.

In the course of representing his broad client base Mr. Burris has been called upon to perform diverse tasks ranging from overseeing litigation as lead or local counsel to the providing of legal opinions as to proposed corporate actions to supervising the actual acquisitions or sales of businesses in a number of industries. He has also served with distinction on a number of Boards for public and private companies as well as non-profit entities such as the Friends of the Brentwood Art Center (which he helped found) and Global Green, a California-based entity dedicated to developing economic self-sufficiency throughout the world. He also proudly served with distinction under the tutelage of Senator Samuel Ervin and Professor Samuel Dash as an Assistant Counsel to the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee in the 1970’s and has been designated as an expert witness in a number of cases relating to various aspects of litigation and legal ethics.

Since the late 1980's, when they formed their law partnership, Mr. Burris has worked with his close friend and colleague, E. Randol Schoenberg, in the successful pursuit of a number of valuable art works and other assets stolen by the Nazi authorities before and during World War II.  The culmination of these efforts was the landmark case of Altmann v. Republic of Austria 541 U.S. 677 (2004), at the conclusion of which the Austrian Government was ordered to, and did, return to the firm's client's possession five (5) priceless historic paintings by Gustav Klimt. Mr. Burris has authored three (3) well-reviewed law review articles directly pertaining to his work in this field, with the most recent article presenting a comprehensive review of his experiences working with Jewish families to retrieve Nazi-looted art.

Professional Experience

Admitted to Practice

  • Maryland, 1969
  • District of Columbia, 1971
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1971
  • U.S.Supreme Court, 1973
  • California, 1976

Notable Service

  • Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee (1974-1976)
  • Law Clerk to Judge James R. Browning, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1969-1970.
  • Judge Pro Tem at the Los Angeles County Superior Court (Santa Monica Division) (1987-2010)
  • Co-counsel for the holocaust victim in the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Altmann v. Republic of Austria541 U.S. 677 (2004)
  • Adjunct and Associate Professor: Georgetown Law Center, 1972-1976;
  • Associate Professor: Loyola University of Los Angeles Law School, 1976-1979.
  • Currently serving on the Board of Governors for the University of Haifa (Israel) and a Director and/or General Counsel for multiple non-profit entities.


  • Alfred University, B.A., With Honors 1965.
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., With High Honors 1969.
  • Selected as a member of Pi Gamma Mu
  • Editor-in-Chief, Volume 57 Georgetown Law Journal (1968-1969.)


Mr. Burris has been actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors involving many local, national and international organizations, such as the L.A. West American Inns of Court, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, The Georgetown University Law Center, Friends Of The Brentwood Arts Center, friends of the Georgetown University Luxemborg Society American Clubs in Paris, Lyon and London and has co-founded fledgling non-profit organization known as the "Institute for the Development And Preservation of Culture" which is dedicated to, among other things, the development of social and educational programs throughout the world designed to assist all types of  communities in developing and preserving the components of their culture .

Mr. Burris lives with his wife of fifty-four (54) years, artist Patricia Ann Burris, in Santa Monica, California. They have two grown children, Darren Robert Burris, a computer company executive, who lives in Venice, California and Tamar Alisa Burris, a writer and educational program planner, who lives in Arcata, California. They have three grandchildren, Reef Burris and Sierra Fino, of Venice, California and Raiden Moorehead of Arcata, California.


During his lengthy and notable career, Mr. Burris has been called upon to provide numerous academic lectures relating to his international litigation. The venues have included the following institutions and organizations:

  • Georgetown University Law Center
  • Vanderbilt Law School
  • Pepperdine Law School
  • UCLA School of Law
  • Texas Tech Law School
  • Texas A&M Law School
  • The University of Toronto Law School
  • The University of Nebraska Law School
  • Loyola of Los Angeles Law School
  • The John Marshall Law School (Chicago, Illinois)
  • The Jean Moulin Law School (Lyon, France)
  • Georgetown International School of Law (London)
  • The ESCP Business School campuses in London and Paris
  • Santa Monica College
  • International Law Institute in Washington, D.C. 1970 - Present
  • Beverly Hills Bar Association Senior Lawyers division
  • Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
  • City of Calabasas CA, Savvy Seniors Presentation
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Jewish Housing Counsel Foundation
  • International Society Of Barristers

In addition to these academic lectures, Mr. Burris has presented, and in some instances has organized and participated in a number of programs, including the following:

Organizer and presenter along with Patricia Burris at the First Brazilian Conference On Law And Art convened at the Federal University of Paraiba Law School located in Joao Pesseo, Paraiba, Brazil.

Speaker and conference organizer for the Federal Bar Circuit meeting in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Help co-ordinate and served as speaker at a New York-based legal education conference sponsored by the Duke Law School and presented at the Herrick and Feinstein law office auditorium.
Helped organize and participated in a program entitled "Looted Art" at the Texas Tech University School of Law.

Speaker for the New York and California State Bars and at various international venues organized by the American Houses of Paris and Lyons, the Friends of Georgetown (Luxembourg), and the OAB Parana Bar Association based in Curitiba, Brazil.
Speaker at various Toronto, Canada educational and social groups (four separate programs): (i) University of Toronto; (ii) Toronto ORT; (iii) Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and (iv) The (First Nation) Chiefs of Ontario.

Speaker and Guest Lecturer at various Holocaust Museums including the museums located in St. Petersburg, Florida and Curitiba, Brazil as well as the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles and the Brentwood (California) Presbyterian Church

Presenter at major art museums and art-related entities, such as the Tampa, Florida Museum of Art, the Museum of Texas Tech University, the Sheldon Art Museum located at the University of Nebraska and the Farnsworth, Maine Art Museum.

Numerous presentations to religious and cultural organizations worldwide.

Helped organize and participated in the Twin Cities Yom Hasoah program.

Additionally, Mr. Burris is scheduled to appear at a number of upcoming conferences, including a conference on art restitution to be held at the University Of North Carolina in October 2019  and a conference on the same subject to be held in Lisbon, Portugal next spring.