Stephen B. Burbank earned an AB from Harvard summa cum laude. He won the Harvard College Honorary Scholarship, the John Harvard Scholarship, the Detur Prize, the Curtis Prize and the Sheldon Fellowship. In 1970-71, he spent the year in Europe on the Sheldon Fellowship.
He was general counsel of the University of Pennsylvania from 1975–1980, joining the professorial ranks of Penn Law in 1979.
One of the most influential scholars of federal practice and procedure, Burbank is the author of definitive works on federal court rulemaking, interjurisdictional preclusion, litigation sanctions, and judicial independence and accountability. He is also an authority on international civil litigation and has lectured and taught widely in Europe. He has served as a reporter of judicial discipline rules for the Third Circuit and of that circuit’s task force to study Rule 11, has been invited to testify before congressional committees on numerous occasions and was appointed by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to serve as a member of the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal (1991–1993).
Burbank served for a decade on the Executive Committee of the American Judicature Society and chaired the Fellowship Selection Committee of the American Academy in Berlin, of which he is now a trustee.
In November 2002, a federal court appointed Burbank special master of the National Football League. In that role, he resolves certain categories of disputes between the NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council under a consent decree and collective bargaining agreement.