Direct: 415-814-6400

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Michael J. Burke’s practice is focused on land use development, redevelopment, environmental regulation, historic preservation and related litigation.  Mr. Burke has successfully represented developers throughout the planning and entitlement process for urban high-rise, suburban and coastal zone, office, residential, golf-course, hotel, commercial/retail and industrial projects and has prevailed in trial and appellate court litigation involving land use, Coastal Act, environmental and historic preservation  challenges to these projects.  He often serves as an expert witness in land use matters for private developers and local governments.


Michael J. Burke was co-founder and former Managing Director of Ellman Burke Hoffman & Johnson before joining SSL in 2010.  From 1970 to 1976, Mr. Burke was associated with the San Francisco firm of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, specializing in complex litigation including real estate, antitrust and securities fraud class actions.


Undergraduate School:  Brown University, magna cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa)

Law School: Harvard Law School, cum laude

Practice Areas:

Acquisitions, Sales and Exchanges; Expert Testimony; Land Use, Entitlements and CEQA; Leasing (space and ground); Private Capital and Personal Real Property Services; Public/Private Partnerships; Real Estate and Land Use Litigation

Representative Matters

  • Wrote the Half Moon Bay Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan and secured its approval by the California Coastal Commission
  • Obtained the entitlements for the Ritz Carlton Resort Hotel in Half Moon Bay and the Silicon Valley Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto’s University Circle Redevelopment Area
  • Obtained the entitlements for three high-rise office and two high-rise residential projects and a six to seventeen story, multi-building, 586 dwelling unit mixed-use project in San Francisco

Professional Activities

  • Author and instructor for California Continuing Education of the Bar’s Advanced Real Property Series on land use and environmental law, development agreements, vesting tentative maps and secured real estate transactions
  • Former land use instructor for Golden Gate University School of Law
  • Affiliated with the California Building Industry Association Select Conference on Industry Litigation
  • Member of Lambda Alpha International (a land economics honorary society)


Professional Recognition

  • Consistently recognized by his peers as one of the Best Lawyers in America and a Northern California Super Lawyer

Community Activities

  • Former Trustee of the Marin County Day School
  • Past recipient of the (San Francisco) Mission Language and Vocational School Business to Community Advocacy Award