Robert P. Burns


Robert Burns is a Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law.  He teaches evidence and professional responsibility in the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy and courses in civil, criminal, and administrative procedure. He received the Dean’s Teaching Award in 2009 and 2006 and was voted the Robert Childress Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2002, 1998, and 1996.  He is author of A Theory of the Trial (Princeton) and The Death of the American Trial (Chicago).  The latter received a Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award in the Social and Behavioral Sciences for 2009.  He is also author of student texts and workbooks in Evidence, Professional Responsibility, and Trial Advocacy and many articles and book chapters.   

Areas of Expertise

  • Procedure
  • Jurisprudence
  • Evidence
  • Trial Advocacy
  • Legal Ethics

Selected Publications

  • Kafka's Law: The Trial and American Criminal Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
  • The Death of the American Trial (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
  • A Theory of the Trial (Princeton University Press, 1999).
  • Problems and Materials in Evidence and Trial Advocacy, 4th edition (NITA, 2004) (with Steven Lubet).
  • The Tasks of a Philosophy of Law in On Philosophy in American Law (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • The Distinctiveness of Trial Narrative in The Truth on Trial: Truth and Due Process (Hart Publishing, 2005).

View additional publications


  • AB magna cum laude, Fordham University
  • JD, University of Chicago
  • PhD with honors, University of Chicago

Prior Appointments

  • Stanford Clinton Sr. Research Professor, 1991-1992, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Perkins-Bauer Teaching Professor of Law, 1988-1989, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Associate Professor of Law, 1980-1983, Northwestern University School of Law
  • General Counsel, 1979-1980, Illinois Legislative Commission to Revise the Public Aid Code
  • Staff Attorney, 1974-1979, Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago

Recent Consulting Activities

  • Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago
  • Dewey Ballantine
  • Jenner & Block

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