Cynthia Burress

Instructional Assistant Professor of Law and Reference Librarian, Dee J. Kelly Law Library

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“Every reference question is a class with a single student, presenting an opportunity to teach new skills and demonstrate not just what the answer is, but how to find it. This is especially vital when helping law students, since mastery of legal research is critical to their future success.”

Get to Know Cynthia Burress

What drew you to the law?

I’ve long been fascinated by how words, and the interpretations thereof, are used to shape our world, and interest in the law was a natural outgrowth of this interest. Once in law school, I realized that I was happiest when teaching and working with other students, which led me away from practice and towards academia.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I appreciate the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and help them with their legal research problems. From law review editors to 1Ls, every student’s needs are different and the variety of questions I encounter helps keep my skills fresh as well.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

My goal is for all students I work with to gain confidence in their legal research knowledge and their ability to swiftly and accurately find the answer to a legal problem, regardless of how obscure it might be.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I worked as a librarian in the Texas Legislative Reference Library, Texas’ equivalent of the Library of Congress, where I helped members of the Legislature research issues related to legislation that was being considered. This afforded me the opportunity to learn the workings of the legislative process and how laws are made.

What are you passionate about outside of the law?

I love to read (not surprising for a librarian!). I support animal rescue organizations and wildlife conservation efforts, and I’ve volunteered for several years with the Humane Society of North Texas. I also enjoy crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and cooking, and I’m active in my faith.

What are your research interests?

I’m interested in legislative history and procedure, especially the impact of the legislative process on case law. I also do research relating to legal history and the preservation of rare legal documents.

Publications

Link to my publications.

Presentations

  • “Researching Texas Statutes, Legal Research for the Non-Law Librarian,” Southwestern Association of Law Libraries (Nov. 2014)
  • “Navigating the Legislative Maze,” Southwestern Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting (April 2010)

Expertise

  • Legal research
  • Legislative history
  • Texas legislative process

Academic Experience

  • Law Librarian and Associate Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2014-present)
  • Law Librarian and Associate Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2003-2009)

Education

  • J.D., Seattle University Law School
  • M.L.I.S., University of Washington
  • B.A. in Psychology, University of Washington