Robert J. Burns is a litigation attorney in Holland & Knight's New York office and a member of the firm's Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice. Mr. Burns is an experienced trial lawyer who focuses on navigating clients through complex business and commercial disputes, shareholder and corporate governance matters, antitrust and consumer protection cases, and high-stakes trust, estate and fiduciary disputes.

In his 17 years of broad litigation experience, Mr. Burns has represented a wide range of U.S. and foreign clients, including airlines, insurers, manufacturers, financial institutions, institutional trustees, technology developers, and major music and literary artists. He has deep experience in all phases of the litigation process – from pre-trial discovery and motion practice through trial and appeal. In the past five years, Mr. Burns has served as lead or co-lead counsel in more than 10 trials and arbitration hearings. He has briefed and argued numerous appeals before federal and state appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and New York's Court of Appeals and Appellate Divisions. He has also negotiated the resolutions of many multimillion-dollar business disputes short of formal litigation.

Mr. Burns serves as the New York office's representative on the firm's E-Discovery and Technology Committee. In that capacity, he counsels numerous firm clients on e-discovery and data preservation best practices, the development of proactive litigation readiness and early case assessment strategies, and cutting-edge legal and technical developments in this evolving area. Mr. Burns has authored articles and delivered presentations on various aspects of the intersection of technology and law.

Mr. Burns' pro bono and community work includes legal work on behalf of the New York City Ballet, several New York City charter schools and several prominent immigrants' rights organizations. He recently acted as co-lead counsel in a high-profile trial seeking damages for a U.S. citizen who was wrongly arrested and detained for several years by federal immigration enforcement authorities.

Mr. Burns began his career in the litigation department of Davis Polk & Wardwell, where his work involved antitrust, securities and general commercial cases. Immediately prior to joining Holland & Knight in 2004, Mr. Burns worked as a solo practitioner in Boston, representing individual and business clients in a broad range of civil and criminal litigation matters. During his tenure at Holland & Knight, Mr. Burns was seconded for several months to the in-house legal department of a major London-based insurer, where he counseled claims and underwriting personnel on diverse litigation, transactional and coverage matters.

During law school, he received academic awards in the fields of contract law, property law, evidence, legal writing and New York practice.

Representative Experience

  • Representing software companies and hardware manufacturers in numerous cases involving licensing disputes and/or claims of trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract
  • Representing financial institutions and services companies in contract disputes with technology suppliers
  • Representing numerous transportation industry clients – including airlines, aircraft leasing companies, aircraft purchasers and transit authorities – in commercial disputes with aircraft manufacturers, hardware and software developers, and component suppliers
  • Representing U.S. and international airlines in significant commercial and class action litigation matters in federal and state courts
  • Representing financial institutions and investment companies in fraud, breach of contract and civil RICO actions involving the purchase and/or sale of investment products and financial instruments

  • Acting as lead trial counsel for a large energy company in several corporate governance and shareholder derivative trials
  • Acting as co-lead trial counsel for the majority owner of investment holding corporations in a two-month trial of shareholder claims
  • Acting as co-lead arbitration counsel in a matter involving a significant M&A transaction

  • Representing a foreign insurer in a federal multidistrict antitrust and civil RICO action
  • Representing international airlines in several federal antitrust actions
  • Representing clients in various industries in putative consumer protection class actions
  • Representing a pharmaceutical manufacturer in federal multidistrict antitrust litigation and in various indirect purchaser antitrust actions in state courts
  • Representing a foreign manufacturer of industrial products in state indirect purchaser antitrust actions
  • Formulating antitrust compliance programs and policies for clients in various industries
  • Conducting antitrust training sessions for senior executives and front-line sales personnel
  • Formulating and implementing minimum retail pricing policies, minimum advertised pricing policies and other distributorship policies
  • Advising clients regarding distributorship, joint venture, exclusive dealing, most favored nations, tying, trade association, information sharing and price discrimination issues in connection with transactions and other business activities

  • Representing institutional and individual trustees and executors of significant trusts and estates in contested accounting and fiduciary duty proceedings
  • Representing beneficiaries of significant trusts and estates in contested accountings and fiduciary removal/surcharge proceedings
  • Representing beneficiaries in state and federal litigations involving allegations of undue influence, fraud and constructive trust


  • Boston College, B.A., Political Science, cum laude
  • Fordham University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • All State Courts in New York
  • All State Courts in Massachusetts
  • All State Courts in New Hampshire
  • All State Courts in California
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Fordham University Law Review
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020
  • Fordham University Moot Court Board 
  • Order of the Coif


Speaking Engagements