At the recent annual meeting of Owners' Counsel of America, OCA presented Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jim Burling with the Crystal Eagle Award, bestowed on "individuals who have made a substantial contribution toward protecting the civil right of private property ownership."
I was pleased to offer introductory remarks, which I post here in a slightly edited format.
Jim Burling is Pacific Legal Foundation's Director of Litigation, and a principal attorney in PLF's Property Rights Practice Group. He's been with PLF since 1983, and his cases involve regulatory takings, environmental and land use regulations, eminent domain, and Indian law.
He's been to the highest court — in 2001 he successfully argued a case we're all intimately familiar with, Palazzolo v. Rhode Island [533 U.S. 606 (2001)], convincing the U.S. Supreme Court that our clients still retain their property rights even after the government adopts restrictive land use regulations.
Jim is a frequent author of both continuing legal education texts as well as more scholarly pieces, and has published articles in, among other places, the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Journal, the Stanford Environmental Journal, the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, and my alma mater's flagship journal, the University of Hawaii Law Review.
As we all are well aware, Jim is a frequent speaker and author, presenting on topics such as the regulation of wetlands, eminent domain, and the taking of private property. He does so with a flair for the historical — oh, we knew about Locke, and Jefferson, and Madison before his presentaitons, but who among us knew that Hugo Grotius, a sixteenth-century Dutch legal philosopher, was key to our practices? And that is typical of his talks: they energize, they inform, they cut to the heart of the issues. All from an angle that we may not have thought of before.He’s the Chairman Emeritus of the Federalist Society’s Environmental Law and Property Rights Practice Group, and has been honored to be elected as a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. Jim’s background is in the sciences, and he earned his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College in New York with a major in Geology and English (a very appropriate combination for a future property lawyer), and he received a Masters of Science from Brown University in Geological Sciences. After working as an exploration geologist in Tucson, Jim returned to school and earned his law degree from the University of Arizona College of Law where he served as an articles editor for the Arizona Law Review.
For a sense of what Jim has been up to since, all you need do is fire up Westlaw or Lexis and search for his name in the databases of reported cases. The search will return no less than 120 cases in which he's been counsel.
As the Director of Litigation at PLF, Jim is mentoring a new generation of property rights lawyers, who are now coming into their own.
Let me wrap up by noting that even with all these allocades — Supreme Court victories, law review articles, mentor, guide, scholar, advocate, Chair of this and that — perhaps the one thing that I will always remember Jim Burling for is that he is the only person who had the intestinal fortitude to stand before us in a CLE lecture a few years ago and perform a rap about eminent domain.Yes, he presented his version of Congressman Major Owens' famous eminent domain rap, "Eminent Domain Pain." All I can say for those who did not witness it was that it was glorious, unforgettable.
James S. Burling
For 30 Years of Advocacy and Scholarship
Championing Private Property Rights
And Mentoring a New Generation of Constitutional Lawyers
January 26, 2013
Owners' Counsel of America