Robert P. Burns

William W. Gurley Memorial Professor of Law


Robert Burns is the William W. Gurley Memorial 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 Childres 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 , edited by Francis J. Mootz (Cambridge University Press 2009).
  • The Distinctiveness of Trial Narrative in The Truth On Trial: Truth And Due Process , edited by Antony Duff et al. (Hart Publishing 2005).

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

Prior Appointments

  • Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
  • 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

  • Jenner & Block
  • Schiff Hardin
  • Cook Country Public Defender

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