Burling to Receive William & Mary Law School’s 2022 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize

  • Property Rights
    Property Rights  As a litigator and Vice President of Legal Affairs at the Pacific Legal Foundation, James Burling has repeatedly shown through his accomplishments and writings that property rights are fundamental to protecting individual and civil rights.  
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James Burling, Vice President of Legal Affairs at Pacific Legal Foundation, will receive the 2022 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize at William & Mary Law School’s 19th annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference on September 29-30 sponsored by the William & Mary Property Rights Project.

The Property Rights Project presents the award each year to an individual whose scholarly work and accomplishments affirm that property rights are fundamental to protecting individual and civil rights.

“James Burling is among the foremost students of the relationship between citizens and their government in contemporary America,” said Steven J. Eagle, Professor Emeritus of Law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and the 2019 Brigham-Kanner Prize winner.

“For the many years that I have known him, Jim Burling has written extensively on property rights and been its strong advocate,” Eagle said. “Both as a litigator for, and now as Vice President of Legal Affairs at the Pacific Legal Foundation, he has marshaled resources, selected cases, and developed strategies that have made him perhaps the most effective force in advancing property rights today.”

Burling attended the University of Arizona College of Law in Tucson, where he served as an editor for the Law Review and received a J.D. degree in 1983. He had previously received a Master’s degree in geological sciences from Brown University and an undergraduate degree from Hamilton College in New York. Burling received the Professional Achievement Award from the University of Arizona Alumni Association in 2018.

Burling has worked with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans’ liberties when threatened by government overreach and abuse, since 1983, litigating cases from Alaska to Florida. He is a member of the Federalist Society’s Environmental Law and Property Rights Practice Group’s Executive Committee, a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, and an honorary member of Owners Counsel of America, an organization comprised of eminent domain attorneys who represent property owners. The Owners Counsel awarded James its Crystal Eagle award in 2013.

In 2001, Burling successfully argued a major property rights case, Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, before the United States Supreme Court, a case that affirmed that rights in regulated property do not disappear when land is bought and sold. He has written extensively on all aspects of property rights and environmental law and frequently speaks on these subjects throughout the nation.

“I am delighted to welcome another private practitioner to the list of Brigham-Kanner honorees,” said Michael M. Berger, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and 2014 Brigham-Kanner Prize winner. “For years, Jim Burling has been a tireless champion of the rights of those oppressed citizens who happen to own the wrong property at the wrong time, i.e., property that is coveted by some government agency, either for actual acquisition or for regulatory wipeout. Jim’s strength lies in his unique and candid ability to see through devious governmental actions. Whether the scheme deals with wetlands or agriculture or rent control or coastal regulation, if the government is on the hunt for private property, Jim will be in the front ranks of the defenders.” 

In addressing Burling’s selection, Lynda L. Butler, Chancellor Professor of Law, Emerita, at William & Mary Law School and Director of the Law School’s Property Rights Project, commented: “I have always been impressed with Jim’s ability to straddle two worlds—that of the successful litigator and the thoughtful author. Jim’s publications include a number of articles and book chapters that discuss the importance of property rights.”

Burling joins an esteemed list of Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize winners. Previous recipients include Frank I. Michelman (2004), Richard Epstein (2005), James W. Ely, Jr. (2006), Margaret Jane Radin (2007), Robert C. Ellickson (2008), Richard E. Pipes (2009), Carol Rose (2010), retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (2011), James E. Krier (2012), Thomas W. Merrill (2013), Michael M. Berger (2014), Joseph William Singer (2015), Hernando de Soto (2016), David L. Callies (2017), Stewart E. Sterk (2018), Steven J. Eagle (2019), Henry Smith (2020) and Vicki Been (2021).

About the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference
The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference is renowned for its outstanding panel discussions and for bringing together members of the bench, bar and academia. Founded by William & Mary Law School alumnus Joseph T. Waldo ’78 in 2004, the conference is notable for its encouragement of active participation from the audience through its question and answer segments with each of the panels. Waldo served as conference co-chair from 2004-17, and in 2018, the Joseph T. Waldo Visiting Chair in Property Rights Law was named in his honor.

Sponsored by William & Mary Law School since its inception, the conference has taken on a larger international perspective as more and more countries deal with property rights issues. In 2011, the conference was held at Tsinghua Law School in Beijing, China, and in 2016 at the Grotius Center of International Legal Studies sat the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Future international events are being planned.

To learn more about the William & Mary Property Rights Project and the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference, please visit our web page.

Learn more about Volume 10 of the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Journal.

About William & Mary Law School
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America’s first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.