C.B. Burns

Clara (C.B.) Burns
Phone: (915) 533-4424

Clara (C.B.) Burns is a Partner in the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department and a member of the Firm's Management Committee. She is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is also licensed in New Mexico. C.B. represents employers in all aspects of workplace law, including advice and counseling, workplace investigations, handbook and policy reviews, and litigation defense of discrimination, discharge, and other employment matters in the federal and state courts of Texas and New Mexico and before numerous governmental agencies.

Some of C.B.’s recent successes include:

  • Defense verdict in a disability discrimination case in the Western District of Texas.
  • Defense verdicts in cases involving workers’ compensation retaliation, sexual harassment, and retaliation in El Paso County.
  • A permanent injunction, a monetary judgment and an award of attorney’s fees on behalf of an employer in a non-compete case.
  • Defense awards in employment arbitration cases on behalf of clients, including a national hospital company, a major retailer, a global manufacturer of automotive products, and a national manufacturer of food safety products, involving age, national origin, race, and sex discrimination claims and FMLA claims.
  • Summary judgment on behalf of a regional banking operation in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque, NM) in a multi-plaintiff sex and age discrimination and breach of contract case.
  • Representation of the Texas Association of Business, which along with other business associations, obtained an injunction in the Northern District of Texas against the United States Department of Labor from implementing its “Persuader Rule.”
  • Successful argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in which the Court affirmed dismissal of state law discrimination claims against a federal contractor operating at Fort Bliss, Texas, based on the Federal Enclave Doctrine.
  • A reverse and render judgment by the Texas Supreme Court, unanimously reversing a jury verdict against an El Paso employer in a workers’ compensation retaliation lawsuit.
  • Amici briefing before the Texas Supreme Court successfully advocating against extension of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Act to existing Texas state law.

In addition to her practice, C.B. is the editor of the Family and Medical Leave Act chapter in the Texas Association of Business’ Texas Employment Law Handbook, and the author of the Texas Human Resources Manual, published by the American Chamber of Commerce Resources. She also speaks frequently at national, state and local employment law seminars, including the annual Labor and Employment Advanced Practices Symposium and the University of Texas Labor and Employment Law Conference.


C.B. is a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and is ranked in the top tier of Labor and Employment Lawyers in Texas by Chambers USA. Chambers USA has recognized her as an “indefatigable litigator who is very thorough, tenacious, and effective in jury and bench trials” and as a “phenomenal employment attorney.” She has been recognized as a Texas “Super Lawyer” and listed in Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers in America has selected her as a Lawyer of the Year for El Paso on several occasions, including as its Labor Law – Management “Lawyer of the Year” for 2018 and 2020.

C.B. also has been quoted on employment law matters by a number of media outlets, including the PolitiFact Texas, the Waco Tribune, and El Paso Inc.

C.B. also has been quoted on employment law matters by a number of media outlets, including the PolitiFact Texas, the Waco Tribune, and El Paso Inc.

Kemp Smith

Founded in 1866, Kemp Smith has 150 years of experience serving our clients, communities and profession.  Attorneys in each of our firm’s areas of practice are experienced professionals who will be as dedicated to your business as you are. We continually strive to surpass clients’ expectations through responsiveness, competence and integrity.  Our attorneys have deep experience over a broad range of sophisticated legal matters.

The firm boasts 13 partners many who have been selected to the 2019 Texas Super Lawyers by publishers Thomson Reuters, to the 2019 Rising Stars by publishers Thomson Reuters, to the 2019 Best Lawyers in America by Woodward/White publishers, or listed in Chambers USA. These attorneys practice in Business, Labor & Employment, Litigation and Appellate Law.  

Kemp Smith lawyers are dedicated to ensuring the delivery of prompt, world-class personal service and advice. The firm is fully staffed to address a wide range of legal needs, including:

  • Appellate
  • Banking
  • Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights
  • Corporate and Business
  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Estate Planning
  • Government Relations
  • Health Care
  • Higher Education
  • Intellectual Property
  • International Law
  • Labor and Employment
  • Litigation
  • Nationality Law
  • Probate and Trust
  • Public Education
  • Public Law
  • Real Estate
  • Tax
  • Telecommunications
  • Water Law


Our board certified appellate counsel are uniquely qualified to advise trial counsel and clients not only on preservation of error and appellate strategy, but also on techniques for obtaining optimal tax treatment of judgments and settlements, an area that has undergone significant change in recent years.


Our banking and finance lawyers represent financial institutions and corporate and individual borrowers in a wide variety of financing transactions. Institutional clients include banks as well as commercial financing and leasing companies.

Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights

Kemp Smith's Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights practice focuses on representing debtors, creditors’ committees and trustees, as well as representing creditors in all types of bankruptcy cases.

Corporate and Business

The business attorneys at Kemp Smith achieve client objectives by combining a high level of technical and substantive legal expertise with an understanding of their clients’ businesses. The combined experience of our business attorneys encompasses all facets of domestic and international business activities, as well as non-profit organizations.

Environmental, Administrative and Public Law

Kemp Smith provides its clients with legal expertise in the areas of environmental, natural resources, administrative and public law.

Estate Planning

Kemp Smith attorneys advise high net worth individuals and families with sophisticated estate planning and wealth transfers and asset protection.

Health Law

Our healthcare clients include hospitals, surgical centers, home health agencies and physicians. We have represented providers in a wide variety of issues, including medical malpractice litigation and regulatory compliance matters

Immigration and Nationality Law

Kemp Smith provides its clients with legal expertise in the areas of Immigration and Nationality Law focusing on law matters with a special focus on all employment-based visas, both temporary and permanent, labor certifications, investor visas, executive/manager transferees and I-9 employment verification issues, as well as a wide range of family-based issues, including processing of legal permanent residence, naturalization, hardship waivers and immigration issues involving international adoptions.

International Law

Kemp Smith provides its clients with legal expertise in the areas of International Law focusing on International arbitration and dispute resolution, enforcement of international contracts, judgments and evidence discovery and coordination of international litigation.

Intellectual Property

Kemp Smith provides its clients with the legal expertise necessary to protect, develop and exploit their intellectual property and to avoid problems arising from the infringement of intellectual property of others. In addition, Kemp Smith also enforces and defends the interests of its clients in trials and other commercial disputes involving all types of intellectual property.

Labor and Employment

Kemp Smith has one of the largest and most experienced groups of labor and employment law attorneys in the Southwest. Our labor and employment department exclusively represents employers, both private and public, in a wide variety of labor and employment matters. We litigate before State and Federal Courts, as well as the NLRB, OSHRC, FMSHRC.


Kemp Smith’s litigation practice is divided primarily between commercial and insurance defense litigation. The firm's trial lawyers practice before Texas and New Mexico state and federal courts and have extensive experience in virtually all aspects of trial practice. The Litigation Department is committed to the principle that avoidance of unnecessary litigation is as important as the successful pursuit and conclusion of a lawsuit.

Real Estate

Kemp Smith understands our clients’ real estate needs and we assist in planning the structure of and negotiating complex real estate transactions.


Kemp Smith advises individuals, partnerships and corporations on domestic and international tax planning and compliance. Our extensive experience and relationships of mutual respect with federal and state taxing authorities enable us effectively to represent the interests of our clients in tax matters.

Texas Human Resources Manual