• T+1 312 207 3890
    F+1 312 207 6400
James A. Burns, Jr.

James A. Burns, Jr.



  • University of Michigan Law School, 1980, J.D., Cum Laude
  • University of Michigan, 1977, A.B., with high distinction

Professional Admissions / Qualifications

  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court - Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court - Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

For more than 35 years, Jim has effectively represented employers before juries, judges, administrative agencies, arbitrators, and mediators throughout the United States, defending claims of age, race, sex, and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract, denial of overtime pay and employee benefits, unfair labor practices, and violations of collective bargaining agreements.  He has also brought and defended suits to enforce non-competes and other restrictive covenants.

Jim regularly advises employers on how to manage legal risks in hiring, supervising, evaluating, investigating, and terminating employees, implementing reductions in force, creating and applying personnel policies, and dealing with labor unions.  He helps clients protect key interests through effective employment agreements, restrictive covenants, and separation agreements.  Jim counsels management on how to achieve business goals while complying with federal, state, and local labor laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), wage and hour laws, and affirmative action obligations.  Jim also provides practical management training on issues such as workplace harassment, documenting employee performance, and accommodating disabled workers.

A frequent speaker to business groups, Jim has also published several articles on human resources issues.  He has been quoted in USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Workforce Management, Employment Law 360 and other publications on a wide range of labor and employment topics.  Jim is a charter member of the Technology Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law.  For 11 consecutive years, he has been selected by his peers as an Illinois Super Lawyer, a designation given to only 5% of attorneys in the state, in the area of Employment and Labor.

Employment History

  • 2007 - Reed Smith
  • 1994 - Katten Muchin Rosenman
  • 1986 - Ross & Hardies
  • 1980 - Seyfarth Shaw

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer in Employment and Labor from 2007 through 2017

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, American Employment Law Council
  • Member, American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law, Technology Committee and Employee Rights and Responsibilities Committee

Notable Quotes

April 5, 2015, 7th Circ. Gives GCs Reason to Hone Title VII Approaches, Law 360