Varela, Lee, Metz & Guarino (VLMG)

Christopher M. Burke


"He is meticulous and has high capability to comprehend complex facts and technical matters with respect to construction and his technique of cross-examination is first class." 

- Chambers and Partners, 2021

Chris Burke has nearly 20 years of experience litigating construction disputes both domestically and internationally.  Chris has tried multiple disputes through final award, with amounts in dispute of over US$1 billion.

Chris represents clients in state and federal courts and in arbitration proceedings, and has considerable experience with international dispute resolution. Chris represents owners, general contractors, construction managers, and subcontractors through the various stages of dispute resolution, from claim preservation through trial.

Before maturation of the litigation process, Chris works with his clients to avoid costly disputes by resolving issues at the project level. Once litigation is inevitable, however, Chris handles all aspects of the dispute process.  He is a seasoned litigator who protects his clients' economic interests while preparing for the best presentation at trial should a matter "go the distance."  He also advises clients on non-contentious matters, including contract drafting.

Chris is a frequent author and speaker in the construction law space and is active in both the American Bar Association and International Bar Association.

Chris graduated cum laude from Yale University and later from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as a Dillard Fellow Legal Research and Writing Instructor.

Representative Experience

  • Representing an ENR U.S. Top 50 general contractor in a dispute with a museum owner.  The case is pending before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
  • Representing a contractor in a dispute with an EPC contractor on a 674MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant in Massachusetts.  The case is pending before the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (“ICDR”). Also represented an engineer in a dispute with the same EPC contract on the project.
  • Represented an EPC Contractor in an ICC Arbitration dispute with a subcontractor on a 600MW coal-fired plant in South America. Chris served as lead trial counsel and following a multi-week evidentiary hearing, Chris’s client received a Final Award upholding his client’s default termination, awarding completion costs and liquidated damages in excess of U.S. $11 million, and denying nearly all of the subcontractor’s U.S. $30 million delay and disruption claims.
  • Represented a developer in an ICC Arbitration dispute with EPC contractor over performance on a 300MW coal-fired CFB power plant in Guatemala, and with a total amount in dispute of over US$1 billion. Chris served as trial counsel and following a multi-week evidentiary hearing, Chris’s client received a Final Award awarding damages of over US$300 million, and upholding the developer’s default termination of the EPC Contract.
  • Represented a general contractor joint venture (comprised of two ENR U.S. Top 20 contractors and an ENR U.S. Top 100 contractor) in an arbitration concerning the design and construction of a US$1.5 billion data center in Utah. The eight-party case proceeded through one week of an American Arbitration Association evidentiary hearing before reaching settlement after Chris’s joint venture client put on its affirmative case.
  • Represented a general contractor concerning the construction of a new 18-story courthouse in Las Vegas, NV. Following a 10-week arbitration hearing wherein Chris served as trial counsel, Chris’s client obtained a Final Award of $52.7 million on its affirmative claims, and defeated nearly all of Owner Clark County's $60 million counterclaim.
  • Represented ENR U.S. Top 50 contractor engaged in an ICC Arbitration dispute with its subcontractor over the construction of a 100MW power plant in Afghanistan. Chris served as trial counsel.
  • Represented an ENR U.S. Top 10 contractor engaged in a dispute with its subcontractor over the engineering and construction of a 600MW petroleum coal-fired CFB power plant. Following the first five-week phase of a scheduled eight-week arbitration hearing, during which Chris served as trial counsel, Chris's client and the opposing party were able to achieve a confidential settlement of their disputes.
  • Represented an EPC contractor in an ICC Arbitration dispute with its subcontractor over performance on a 300MW solar power plant in Arizona.  The parties reached a confidential settlement prior to the evidentiary hearing of the matter.
  • Represented an at-risk construction manager concerning the construction of a luxury condominium project in New York City. As co-lead trial counsel through a nearly three-week arbitration hearing, Chris helped the construction manager obtain a Final Award of over $10 million on its affirmative claims. The Final Award overturned the Owner's improper default termination claim, and dismissed the Owner's $120 million counterclaim in its entirety.

Recent Publications and Presentations (Previous Five Years)

  • Speaker: “Extension of Time (EOT) Claims – Separating Fairy Tales from Facts,” 2019 AAA Construction Conference, Miami, FL, April 2019.
  • Speaker: "Are Scheduling and Delay Protocols Poseidon's Trident or an Achilles Heel?" and "Dispute Resolution:  A Global Perspective," Eighth International Society of Construction Law Conference, Chicago, IL, September 2018.
  • Speaker: "Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler? – What You Need to Know About Contracting Outside of the United States," American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April 2018.
  • Co-Editor: American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law Division 13 (Government Construction) newsletter, June 2016 – June 2018.
  • Presenter: "Acceleration & Mitigation of Project Delays," WPL Publishing Co. Webinar, January 2018.
  • Speaker: “Managing Risk in a Complex Global Environment,” Global Construction Summit (presented by Engineering News-Record), New York, NY, October 2017.
  • Co-Author: Chapter 25, Federal Government Construction Contracts Outside the United States, in Forum on Construction Law, American Bar Association, Federal Government Construction Contracts (3d ed. 2017).
  • Co-Author: “Time Is on (Their) Side: The United Kingdom’s Society of Construction Law’s Delay and Disruption Protocol 2.0,” The Construction Lawyer, Volume 37, Number 4, Fall 2017.
  • Session Chair: “Time-Related Obligations in Key Jurisdictions: An Update,” International Bar Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, September 2016.
  • Session Coordinator: “Cost of the Work: Tricks and Traps to Avoid in Contract Drafting,” American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, April 2016.

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