2021 recipient of the John P. Kiely Professionalism Award: James E. Burke

Jun 1, 2021

For over 40 years, James “Jim” Burke has helped business clients succeed in all types of complex litigations. He is part of an award-winning, elite group of regional litigators who can deftly handle complex cases of all types including business, securities and “bet-the company” cases, and does so while upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism and civility. 

Burke’s litigation practice focuses on complex corporate and commercial litigation, including both trial and appellate practice, in state and federal court. He has handled cases before courts in ten states, including Ohio. He has significant experience in financial and transactional cases, commercial matters, class and derivative actions, and actions arising under federal securities laws. 

In 1997, Burke was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers, membership in which is extended by invitation only. He lectures on trial skills and techniques and a 20+-year member of the faculty and Steering Committee for the Cincinnati Bar Association and National Institute of Trial Advocacy.


Burke has expanded his practice to handle mediations and arbitrations of the types of complex commercial and business cases he spent his career litigating. He has mediated hundreds of cases on behalf of both the plaintiff and defense, and he understands the nuances of complex business mediations, including those involving securities, commercial disputes, merger and acquisitions, shareholder disputes, and complex contractual matters. He is certified in mediation by the Supreme Court of Ohio.


Known for his ability to succinctly assess and thoughtfully convey the risks and benefits for each side during the mediation process, Burke is a practical, business-focused analyst who has worked for decades with some of the country’s most sophisticated businesspeople. 

Burke served as a member of the Keating, Muething & Klekamp Board of Directors and as a litigation practice group leader. He continues to invest in his peers there as a mentor and coach and serves on the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion committee. He is involved in alumni activities at St. Xavier high school, Yale University and UC Law school. He also is an enthusiastic, if undistinguished, golfer.


Throughout his legal career, Burke has been supported by his wife of 43 years, Judy, who is his rock. He has four wonderful children of whom he is extremely proud: Jim, Holly, Melanie and Tim. Jim and Melanie are trial attorneys. Holly and Tim are senior business executives. He has four grandchildren. 

The John P. Kiely Professionalism Award recognizes a trial lawyer for possessing outstanding trial skills and demonstrating the highest degree of professionalism, civility and ethical standards in his or her day-to-day practice. This annual award is presented by the Professionalism Committee of the Cincinnati Bar Association to honor the memory of attorney
John P. Kiely.