Donald Burris

Mr. Burris, the senior founding partner in the AV-rated firm of Burris & Schoenberg, LLP (the “Firm”) has been actively involved in a sophisticated national and international business litigation and business law practice for almost fifty (50) years. Mr. Burris is 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. After a judicial clerkship with Circuit Judge James R.LBrowning, Jr. of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, he was initially based in Washington, D.C. and he 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, 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 including overseeing litigation as a lead or local counsel, providing “consigliore”- type services to clients contemplating or already involved in litigation, drafting legal opinions as to proposed corporate actions and supervising the actual acquisitions or sales of businesses involving a number of industries. He has also served with distinction on a number of Boards of Directors for public and private companies as well as for non-profit entities such as the Friends of the Brentwood Art Center (which he helped found), the newly-formed Institute for the development of Preservation of Culture and World-wide Sustainability.”, and Global Green, a California-based entity also dedicated to developing economic self-sufficiency throughout the United States and 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 multiple 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-received 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. At this stage of his career he is recognized as one of a relatively small group of lawyers-legal scholars in this field.


  • 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.)

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 Austria, 541 U.S. 677 (2004)
  • Adjunct and Associate Professor: Georgetown Law Center, 1972-1976;
  • Associate Professor: Loyola University of Los Angeles Law School, 1976-1979.
  • Member of the Board of Governors for the University of Haifa (Israel).
  • Recipient of the Paul R, Dean Award for Distinguished Service.


Mr. Burris has been actively involved in many philanthropic endeavors involving  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 Law Alumni Board, Friends Of The Brentwood Arts Center,  the Georgetown University  Society(Luxembourg), the American Clubs in Paris and Lyon, France, the Georgetown International Law School in London and in addition his busy law and lecture activities, is actively involved with a 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,  Patricia Ann Burris, a professional artist and art teacher, 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. Mr. Burris has presented, and in some instances has organized and participated in a number of programs, including service as a conference co- organizer and keynote presenter at the First Brazilian Conference on Law and Art convened at the Federal University of Paraiba Law School located in Joao Paseo, Paraiba, Brazil, as a  speaker and co-conference organizer for the Federal Bar Circuit meeting in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as a coordinator and speaker at a New York-based legal education conference sponsored by the Duke Law School and presented at the Herrick and Feinstein e auditorium  as an organizer and participant in a program entitled entitled "Looted Art" at the Texas Tech University School of Law, as a multiple venue lecturer on “Yom Hashoach” day in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, 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; at various Toronto, Canada educational and social groups (four separate programs at: (i) University of Toronto; (ii) Toronto ORT; (iii) Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and (iv) the (First Nation) Chiefs of Ontario, and by 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

To further diversify his activities Mr. Burris has been a 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 and has made numerous further presentations to religious and cultural organizations in this country and worldwide.

Speaking Engagements

Legal and Universties

Art and Cultural