CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Burke and his wife, Tricia; Burke’s sons EJ, Brendan and Matthew; The American Hotel; LT Burger; Mill Creek Marina
AS THE EXODUS to the Hamptons begins every summer and the East End’s population swells, its courtroom dockets fill up just as quickly as its restaurant reservation lists. “I certainly have a lot of business in the summer,” says Edward D. Burke Jr., Esq., an attorney with a list of notable (and, at times, infamous) clients who focuses on negligence, real estate and entertainment law. His specialty, however, is criminal defense. “There is a tremendous volume of work, from felonies to traffic violations,” he says. He notes that the courtrooms in East End—where he lives and bases his practice, Edward Burke Jr. & Associates—can often see upwards of 100 cases a session at the height of the season.
So much for the notion of leisurely small-town lawyering. Burke has even taken high-profile cases involving murder and vehicular assaults, the likes of which necessitate a fair amount of delicacy in a notoriously gossipy area. “There are a lot of social events where people bring up cases in a lot of conversations,” he says. “There’s also the press looking for stories, while a lot of my clients are looking for privacy.”
While growing up in the Hamptons, Burke often helped out with his family’s restaurant, the Salty Dog. “It was the nightspot in the Hamptons,” he says. His father, Edward Sr., is a lawyer; a sister and a younger brother also became lawyers. Burke describes discussions around the family dinner table as “entertaining, to say the least.” He left the island for school at St. John’s University School of Law and to work in Manhattan for a bit, always intending to return. He did just that, spending seven years as a prosecutor with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office. Five years ago, he started his private practice.
Burke has since been plenty busy proffering legal advice—he also volunteers as counsel to the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball league as well as the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department—but he still has time to dabble in the restaurant industry: In 2001 he opened up a seafood joint called Jeff & Eddy’s, on Main Street in Sag Harbor. Recently, he cut a deal with chef Laurent Tourondel, whose name is behind BLT Restaurants, to create LT Burger.
His spare time (what little is left over) is dedicated to his wife and three sons. “Family time is very important to me,” he says. Still, he’ll slip away now and again for some golf or boating on Noyac Bay, making his summers an enviable balance of rest and relaxation as well as law and order.
RESTAURANTS: Bobby Van’s, The American Hotel, Cittanuova and LT Burger