If you’re a creative professional, lawyers can seem intimidating. We’re known to love our $20 words, billing by the hour, being slow to return calls and emails, and generally being pretentious know-it-alls. Leslie Burns tries to do it differently.

Leslie uses plain English whenever possible, stays in touch with her clients, and tries to use alternative billing (contingency fees or flat fees) whenever she can.  She wants to help and will do what she can to achieve that for every client. For her, being a lawyer is a vocation, a true calling. She feels honored to serve her clients.

About BTA, Inc.

Burns the Attorney, Inc., is my law firm. I’m Leslie Burns.

I grew up in a house full of creatives (brothers and mother) and even my father was an actor before becoming a general practice lawyer. I’ve worked in the creative industries since the 90s, as a studio manager, photographers’ rep and producer and, later, a marketing consultant to photographers. I’ve lectured across the USA and even written a couple of books on the business of being a commercial photographer.

Before all that I was an odd academic who simply loved learning. I (eventually) got a BA in French, then got a full scholarship to get my MA in French linguistics and film and then my PhD. While I completed my PhD coursework in medieval French literature and language, I bailed before completing the doctorate (there was some “me too” there). In short: Geek, c’est moi.

After seeing how creatives got screwed so often in business, I decided I’d love to go to law school to protect them better. It took a while before I could make that happen, financially, but in 2008 I got offered a full scholarship and leapt at the chance. I loved law school. I passed the California bar on the first try and have been licensed and practicing in California since 2011.

I call myself a “bad buddhist” and you’ll see references to that in my work and writings here. Basically, it means I try to use respect, compassion, and a desire to resolve problems amicably whenever possible. However, when needed, I’m as tenacious as a badger. Think Carol Kane in Scrooged–sweet, but more than capable of going all lawyer-ninja on opponents.

A Midwesterner until my 30s, I now live in San Diego with my boyfriend (Tony), cat (Ruth Bader Catzburg), and Blue Heeler (Mongo Santamaria). You can follow me on Mastodon.


Say Yes to No

I’m a firm believer in saying yes and generally being positive about things; have done for years. For example, if a client has a technically gnarly project, saying “Oh, that looks super hard” and then explaining how much work it is going to be or, worse, even hinting that you might fail, is not a good …

Buddh-ish: Breathing

Every morning I do stretches (some yoga-based, some just basic stretches) while also doing a breathing exercise. The exercise is called Ujjayi and the variation I do is seven seconds of inbreath through the nose then seven seconds of outbreath through the nose. Each breath is into the belly, not the chest and, in some …


Leslie doesn’t answer legal questions for free or over the phone, including whether something is copyright infringement or a potential case she can help with. Her insurance company wouldn’t like it and, besides, you hate it when people ask you to work for free and so does she. Rather than calling her, please send her a very brief email, like “I have a contract matter I’d like help with” or “I think someone has infringed my copyright, can you help?” to inquire@burnstheattorney.com and she’ll get back to you as soon as she can.

If you’re not already a client, you’ll probably get a form from her first before she follows up more personally.

Thanks for understanding.