Brandi L. Burke recalls the advice she received from a colleague who told her to never tell someone that you don’t have time for them.
“You always have time for them,” said Burke, a partner at Thompson Coburn. “It just may not be in that exact minute, but you always have time to talk to somebody, to walk them through a problem or listen to what they have to say.”
Lots of folks listen to Burke these days. She has built a track record of success defending clients in state and federal courts in consumer fraud, securities, data breach, complex commercial contracts and business tort claims — among other areas. She was selected for the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s 2016-2017 Leadership Academy Class.
Burke admits she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in college, but she was the first in her immediate family to complete four years of higher education. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2003.
“I had a professor tell me that I had a good attention to detail and that he thought I should either be a detective or a lawyer,” she said.
Still, she wasn’t certain she wanted to remain in law school after her first year at Washington University. Fortunately, she was advised to do a summer internship and discovered that she loved litigation. She earned her law degree in 2006.
Directly after law school, she returned to her native Indiana to work for the Ice Miller law firm while her husband remained at Thompson Coburn in St. Louis. Eventually, Burke would move to the Gateway City as well.
“After six years of driving back and forth down Highway 70, we decided it was time to be in the same city,” she said, laughing.
Burke said she loves to learn, and she believes the law is the best place to do that.
“I do enjoy that detail and that analysis and really just digging into subject matter. One of the things that I like about business litigation is that every case is unique. Every case has its nuances,” she said. “Learning about the client, their business, what they do, really getting to know the client and how their business works helps you to take ownership of the case and feel a bigger stake in the outcome. That’s another aspect I really enjoy.”
Her philosophy of practice is drawn from her down-to-earth Midwestern roots.
“Be yourself. It sounds simple but, especially as a litigator, I think sometimes people may put on a persona that is different,” she said. “That may work for some people, but I think being yourself, being authentic, being true to who you are in the way you treat other people, including opposing counsel and the opposing party, makes a big difference for you in the end because you build credibility.”
Helping colleagues is another good way to build credibility. Again, it gets back to having time for others.
“One thing that’s helped me get to where I am and that I try to follow through with is mentoring,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of great mentors over the years who have taught me everything from actual litigation skills to client relationship skills to business development.”