I have been a partner in the Employment, Immigration and Reward division at Lewis Silkin since 1985.
In my practice I advise on many aspects of employment and partnership law, with a particular focus on the resolution of high level disputes (including through mediation and arbitration), senior level departures, boardroom issues, business transfers and restructuring.
Much of my work has an international element to it, and I often work closely with colleagues in other jurisdictions to navigate cross-border matters. I sit on the Executive Committee of Ius Laboris, the global alliance of human resources law firms of which we are UK member. Examples of international work could be advising on a multi-jurisdictional restructuring or co-ordinating a cross-border HR project.
The Legal 500 directory recommends me for my “exceptional wisdom, negotiating skills, and ability to give difficult advice very clearly”, which is rather flattering but is certainly what I aim for! I have also recently been listed in the top five Thought Leaders by Who's Who: Labour and Employment 2017, for receiving the highest number of nominations by peers, corporate counsel and other market sources.
I was born and raised in New York State, but came to the UK in 1978 to study for a year and, basically, stayed on. Outside of work, I’m a bit of a foodie who enjoys the occasional glass of wine.
I have more than 27 years’ experience of advising on all aspects of my field. My clients come from a wide range of industry sectors including finance, professional services and marketing services, to name a few. I represent a significant number of law firms. Recent examples of my work include:
- defending a multi-million pound discrimination claim brought by a former partner against an international professional services firm
- assisting a listed media company in resolving an acrimonious dispute with its departing CEO
- advising a large financial services group on the poaching of a team from a major competitor – successfully avoiding injunctions. I am regularly asked to speak on employment issues at international conferences and events
Partnerships & LLPs
Anyone who has been a partner knows that partnerships and LLPs have a different dynamic than other types of organisations. I have many years of experience advising on the particular issues that they give rise to. My clients include a number of the leading international law firms as well as major financial services partnerships and LLPs. I spend much of my time representing these clients in large-scale partnership litigation or arbitration, often with an international dimension. Many of my clients also consult me about their partnership and LLP agreements. From time to time I have also acted for partners in disputes with partnerships and LLPs.
Advertising & Marketing
In my many years of advising advertising, media and marketing agencies I have learned that they generally share one overriding characteristic – the frisson which comes with a business where creative and account management have to coexist as necessary bedfellows. This makes them fun and interesting, but also challenging when it comes to their employment issues. I understand those challenges, and use that to inform my advice on all manner of staff matters. Some examples of recent cases are:
- advising a major marketing services group on enforcing non-compete restrictions when a management team left to form a start-up
- assisting an agency in dealing with the fall-out when a senior creative team split up
- defending (successfully) an age discrimination complaint brought by an unsuccessful applicant for an account management role. I have also advised frequently on the TUPE implications following account moves
I have many years of experience of advising professional services firms – both partnerships and corporate entities – on their wide-ranging employment and partnership issues. Among my clients are many leading international law firms, financial services businesses and other professional practices. In some cases I also represent professional bodies or regulators. I am generally involved in assisting them to head off disputes before they arise or, if that is not possible, to help them to a resolution once they do (through various methods of dispute resolution).
Awards & Recognition
- Chambers 2024 (Employment: Employer – London (Firms)) - "Michael is a great lawyer across the board on employer matters."
- Legal 500 2023 (Employment: Employers) ‘Michael Burd – a brilliant strategist. He has seen it all and done it all before. Unflappable.‘
- Legal 500 2023 (Partnership) ‘hugely experienced‘ ‘Michael Burd – huge experience of dealing with employment law matters involving business leaders and with the gravitas to give focused, commercial advice.’
- Who’s Who Legal 2022 - 'Michael Burd is an "excellent lawyer" with three decades of experience advising clients from a wide range of industry sectors in complex employment and partnership law'
- Hall of Fame in Legal 500 2022 (Employment)
- Legal 500 2022 - ‘Brilliant high-level strategist and commercial deal maker’
- Eminent Practitioner in Chambers (Employment)
- Chambers 2022 (Employment) - 'He is commercial, he always looks to identify the best solution for his clients, he is very pragmatic and he is a real strategist who is excellent at fighting your corner'
- Chambers 2022 (Employment) - 'He understands people and he is good at getting the right result in a difficult situation'
- Chambers 2021 (Employment: Employer) - "He is incredibly helpful and gives practical, pragmatic and helpful advice"
- Chambers 2021 (Employment: Employer) - "He is a brilliant negotiator - a very wise and experienced solicitor"
- Legal 500 2021 (Employers) - ‘Michael Burd – a very good legal mind/knowledge with an extremely practical and sensible approach to problem solving. And quick to answer emails. I feel privileged to be able to work with him'
- Legal 500 2021 (Employers) - ‘Michael Burd has been there, seen it and done it more than entire teams at other firms. Unflappable.’
- Who's Who Legal Global Leader - Labour & Employment (England) 2021
- Who's Who Legal Global Leader: Labour and Employment 2020 - Michael Burd is “one of the finest negotiators around” and a “responsive and reliable leader in the field”. He is a go-to for boardroom issues and partnership disputes.
- Legal 500 2020 - Michael Burd is among the most senior and highly respected employment lawyers in the country, with outstanding qualities of judgement and the ability to get deals done, stays calm in even the most challenging situations. One of the all-time greats
- Recognised in WWL: Thought Leaders - Global Elite 2020: "a leader in the European market" whose peers describe as "very knowledgeable with very impressive client contacts". An "innovative practitioner", he excels on high-level employment disputes.
- Listed in Best Lawyers 2020 edition
- The Spear's 500 2019: Michael is recognised as ‘Outstanding in Field’ of employment law and ‘known for his negotiation savvy and ability to impart difficult advice with uncommon clarity’
- Chambers 2019 Ranked: Employment: Employer - London (Firms)
- Chambers 2019 - Michael Burd is noted for his "client-focused and commercial approach."