Jim Burke, a lawyer with more than 40 years of courtroom experience, is a highly regarded teacher and mentor at Maine Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. Under the supervision of Professor Burke, student attorneys represent real clients in state and federal cases in areas of criminal defense, family law, general civil litigation, appellate work, probate, and real estate matters.
Professor Burke teaches in both the General Practice Clinic and the Prisoner Assistance Clinic. Before joining the faculty full-time, Professor Burke was a lawyer in Lewiston from 1976 to 2005, with a practice covering nearly every area of law: Civil, Criminal and Constitutional cases in both State and Federal Courts and a general practice including real estate, family law, wills, probate, corporations (both for and not-for profit), and Federal ERISA and RICO cases. He has represented lawyers, therapists, and real estate agents before professional licensing boards, and he also advised artists and musicians on various artistic and intellectual property legal issues. Professor Burke was a Complaint Justice and a Referee for the Eighth District Court, and a mediator and arbitrator for Superior, District, and Probate Courts, as well as for private parties.
Professor Burke was counsel in over forty reported cases, including Portland v. De Paolo, 531 A.2d 669 (1987), which re-interpreted and expanded the right to a civil jury trial in Maine. Recently, two of his clinic students briefed, argued, and successfully got the Maine Supreme Court to recognize the Prisoner Mailbox Rule (Martin v. Maine D.O.C., 2018 ME 103), which is a great benefit to prisoners trying to file cases in Maine Courts. Professor Burke has been and remains active in numerous professional organizations, including service as President and Treasurer of the Androscoggin County Bar Association, and two appointments as President of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. He received the USM Faculty Senate Award for Service to the Law School in the Spring of 2018.
When not at the Clinic, Jim lives in the woods, enjoying music, cooking, the environment, and traveling as widely as possible.