John Burgess

John A. Burgess

160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA 02155
Research/Areas of Interest:

Cross-border mergers and securities; International trade; Law of the Sea and legal protection of the commons


  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.A., Yale University


John A. Burgess, professor of practice for the LL.M. program, teaches courses on the law of the sea, and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to his retirement in 2013, Burgess practiced law at the global law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr for 37 years, and during that time, chaired the firm’s corporate and international practice groups, and served on its management committee. He has represented for profit, NGO, and university clients in a range of transactions throughout Western Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He was regularly listed in Best Lawyers in America and Massachusetts “Super Lawyers” in areas of international trade, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and securities law.

A graduate of Yale University (B.A. in history) and Harvard Law School (J.D.), he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow of Branford College at Yale University, an overseer at WBUR-FM and former president of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

Burgess has lectured on international mergers and securities law at the University of Iowa and Peking University School of Transnational Law, has participated in panels or seminars relating to law of the sea in Taipei and Reykjavik and is a permanent lecturer at St. Gallen University in Switzerland.

Areas of expertise

International Business
International Security

Professional Activities

  • Partner, Corporate Department, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
  • Member of the firm’s Management and Executive Committees, co-chair of the Corporate Department’s International Transactions Group, and a former co-chair of Hale and Dorr’s Corporate Department
  • Member of the Board of Overseers, WBUR-FM, and Chairman of Content Committee
  • Advisor, Audit, Risk and Oversight Committee of the Broad Institute, Cambridge Massachusetts Chairman, International Committee, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, 1991-1993
  • Adjunct Fellow, Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988-1992
  • Trustee, Roxbury Latin School, 2001-2006
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations, member of the Board of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and life member of the United States Naval Institute
  • Member of the American Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association and the International Bar Association


  • Listed by Best Lawyers in America as 2015 Boston Lawyer of the Year, in the areas of securities and capital markets.

Courses taught

Selected Publications and Presentations


"Charles Francis Child: Brief Life of a Victorian Enthusiast," Harvard Magazine, May-June, 2006

"La Marine: The Post-War French Navy and Western Security", United States Naval Institute Proceedings (March 1985)


"Emerging Technologies and Western Security", Securing Europe's Future (1987)


"Is Warrior the Right Word?" United States Naval Institute Proceedings (December 2012)