El Paso

221 N. Kansas, Suite 1700
El Paso, TX 79901
Phone: 915.533.4424
Fax: 915.546.5360


2905 San Gabriel St, Suite 205, 
Austin, TX 78705
Phone: 512.320.5466
Fax: 512.320.5431

Las Cruces

3800 E. Lohman Ave., Suite C
Las Cruces, NM 88011
Phone: 575.527.0023
Fax: 915.546.5360

Please read before contacting Kemp Smith:

Do not send or include any information in any email generated through this web site if you consider the information confidential or privileged. By submitting information by email or other communication in response to this web site, you agree that the communication does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and the law firm and its lawyers and that any information submitted is not confidential and is not privileged. You further acknowledge that, unless the law firm subsequently enters into a lawyer-client relationship with you, any information you provide will not be treated as confidential and any such information may be used adversely to you and for the benefit of current or future clients of the law firm.

search by Practices
search by Location

Clara (C.B.) Burns

Email: clara.burns@kempsmith.com
Telephone: 915.533.4424 / Fax: 915.546.5360

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, litigation and arbitration defense of discrimination, discharge, and other employment matters in the federal and state courts of Texas and New Mexico and before numerous governmental agencies.

C.B also serves as an outside investigator for municipalities and other government units, as well as private employers. She has investigated discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, corporate misconduct claims, ethics complaints, and other employment related claims.

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

  • Jury verdict for the defense in a wage and hour/misclassification case in the Western District of Texas
  • A reverse and render judgment by the Texas Supreme Court unanimously reversing a denial of a plea to the jurisdiction in an age discrimination case
  • Jury verdict for the defense 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.


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 and Chambers Global. 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 2020-24.

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.





  • Texas Tech University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1990
  • At Texas Tech, C.B. served as the Managing Editor of the Texas Tech Law Review and authored the comment, The Prima Face Case of Age Discrimination in Reduction-in-Force Layoffs: A Flexible Standard.
  • McMurry College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1987


  • State Bar of Texas
  • State Bar of New Mexico
  • El Paso Bar Association
  • Texas Bar Foundation
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Texas Association of Business
  • El Paso Society for Human Resource Management
  • Labor & Employment Law Commission of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization


  • Texas, 1990
  • New Mexico, 1994
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas and Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • District of New Mexico


  • Board Certified, Labor and Employment Law - Texas Board of Legal Specialization

Professional & Civic Involvement

C.B. was the 2014-15 Chair of the State Bar of Texas Labor and Employment Law Section. She is a member of the Management Labor and Employment Roundtable, the American Employment Law Council and serves on the Labor and Employment Law Commission of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  She has previously served on the Board of Directors of Texas Association of Business and served as its Employee Relation Chair.

C.B. currently serves on the Board of Directors for the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and the Paso Del Norte Children's Development Center Foundation Board. She has served on the Board of Directors of the YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region, the Paso Del Norte Children’s Development Center and the YWCA of El Paso Foundation. She is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and a graduate of Leadership El Paso.