C.B. Burns

Clara (C.B.) Burns is a Partner in and Chair of the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department. 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 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. has been 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 2017.

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. Kemp Smith is the second-oldest law firm in Texas, the largest law firm in El Paso and the only El Paso-based firm with offices in Austin and Las Cruces.

The firm boasts 13 partners who have been selected to the 2015 Texas Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters, the 2015 Texas Rising Stars by Thomson Reuters, to the 2016 Best Lawyers in America by Woodward/White publishers, or listed in Chambers USA. The following were selected for inclusion into Best Lawyers: Allan M. Goldfarb, Gene Wolf, Deborah C. Trejo, Carl E. Ryan, Clara (C.B.) Burns, Charles C. High, Jr., Michael D. McQueen, Richard A. Bonner, Ken Slavin, James W. Brewer and Tom Forbes. Super Lawyers: Richard Bonner, Clara C.B. Burns, Allan Goldfarb, Charlie High, Michael McQueen, Ken Slavin, Carl Ryan and Scott Mann. Texas Rising Stars: Sean C. White, Gilbert L. Sanchez, Abe Howard-Gonzalez. Chambers USA: Charles C. High, Clara C.B. Burns and Michael D. McQueen.

Charles C. High was named one of the Top 50 Lawyers (Central and West Texas Region) in Texas Super Lawyers 2014.

Best Lawyers named Allan M. Goldfarb 2016 El Paso Trusts and Estates Lawyer of the Year and Clara C.B. Burns 2016 El Paso Litigation – Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year.

The firm is active in the American Bar Association, the State Bars of Texas and New Mexico, the El Paso Bar Association and the Austin Bar Association. Kemp Smith was acknowledged with eight Tier 1 rankings in the following practice areas: Corporate Law; Employment Law- Management; Medical Malpractice Law- Defendants; Real Estate Law; Trusts and Estates Law; and recognized with three Tier 2 rankings: Administrative/Regulatory Law; Government Relations Practice; Water Law by Best Lawyers.

Texas Human Resources Manual