Burson Named Senior Professor of Practice

Charles Burson

Charles Burson, former White House advisor, has been named the law school’s first Senior Professor of Practice. The new Professor of Practice designation is for distinguished lawyers and legal practice senior lecturers who meet criteria established by the law faculty to serve as full-time teaching faculty members.

Since 2007, Burson has been a visiting professor of law, teaching the Lawyer’s Role in Corporate Crisis Management; Supreme Court & Presidential Elections; and The Legacy of Bush v. Gore. In February 2009, he served as a visiting professor at LSU, where he taught The Legacy of Bush v. Gore as a short course. 

His extensive professional career includes serving as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary at Monsanto Company from 2001-2006; counsel to the Vice President of the United States, assistant to the President of the United States and to the chief of staff at The White House, Office of the Vice President, from 1997-2001; Attorney General for the State of Tennessee from 1988-1997; partner at Wildman, Harold, Allen, Dixon and McDonnell from 1979-1988; and partner at Burson and Burson from 1970-1979. He served as a delegate at the 1977 Tennessee Constitutional Convention and as a member and president of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. He also has argued four cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

“The new Senior Professor of Practice designation creates an effective and innovative means for outstanding legal professionals to share their expertise with our law students as full-time teachers and to work closely with their colleagues on the law faculty,” said Kent Syverud, dean and the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professor. “Charles Burson is an exemplar of the ideal of the Senior Professor of Practice. He comes to the law school after a highly distinguished career in law and government service, and his classes are rigorous and popular with our students.”

The Senior Professor of Practice position was created in recognition that distinguished lawyers, who have made distinctive contributions to the practice of law or in government service over an extended period of time, can complement the teaching mission of the faculty. Such professionals enrich the curriculum by situating legal doctrine and theory in a practical context. They also contribute immensely by sharing their knowledge of specialized fields and professional experiences not ordinarily possessed by tenured or tenure track faculty. 

In addition to outstanding professional credentials, Professor of Practice candidates must demonstrate promise for attaining a high degree of effectiveness in teaching. Senior Professors of Practice are appointed for a two-year term following a rigorous selection process. Similarly, Senior Lecturers in Law who are members of the legal practice faculty are eligible for a four-year appointment as a Professor of Practice.

Burson is currently of counsel at Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis and a member of the law school’s National Council. He also recently directed the transition team for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. He earned his B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; M.A. from Cambridge University, Cambridge, England; and J.D. from Harvard University.

Burson’s wife, Bunny, a practicing artist, is an MFA graduate of Washington University and a member of the National Council for the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Their daughter, Kate, is a 2007 graduate of the law school, and their daughter, Clare, is a singer-songwriter in New York.