TB Profile: Meet Attorney David P. Cañas

The Thompson Burton team is pleased to announce that David P. Cañas has once again been recognized by the Best Lawyers in America in the practice are of Litigation-Bankruptcy. David has been recognized every year since 2012.

David P. CañasWe are proud of David and everything he has contributed since joining the firm earlier this year.

This gave us a reason to feature David in month’s “TB Profile” blog post so you can learn about David’s practice and his personal interests.

When did you know that you wanted to be an attorney?

In middle school. That sounds funny, but I always knew that wanted to be involved in public service.

I eventually learned that being an attorney fit with the way my brain is wired and how I like to solve problems. Litigation is about gathering facts and solving problems in a way that is best for the client.

My commitment to public service is one of the reasons that I serve on the board of the Tennessee Justice Center, which provides pro bono services to vulnerable Tennesseans. (David was recognized as Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the Tennessee Bar Association in 2006 for his work with a TennCare client regarding coverage for a medical device.)

How did you choose litigation and bankruptcy as your practice areas?

I clerked for two justices on the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Jackson, Tennessee, before joining a litigation firm in Nashville. From the beginning, I jumped right in and was taking depositions and worked on a jury trial in my first year.

A couple of years in, I moved to a firm that focused on secured creditor representation and commercial litigation. I then moved to another firm and began to focus on Chapter 11 work along with my litigation practice. It was a natural progression over the years that developed into my current practice, and I continue to enjoy the variety of work and challenge that each new case brings.

What makes a great client relationship?

Trust is most important.

My clients aren’t typically in the business of litigation. Litigation is about helping a client through a difficult situation. When I have to ask the hard questions or tell clients the hard news, it’s nice to hear them say, “I understand, and thank you for that candor.”

That’s when I know the client understands that I have the client’s interests in mind, and that client trusts I will bring all my skill and knowledge to doing best I can for the client.

Why did you choose Thompson Burton?

It started with my mutual respect for Thompson Burton attorneys Phillip Young and Ronn Steen. We had dealt with each other on a number of cases over the years. If they were at the firm, I was confident that it would be a good place to continue serving my clients and to develop my practice.

When I met with the partners and other attorneys, I understood that it was a place where attorneys work hard and represent their clients well, but also have important balance in their lives. It’s an atmosphere where you can succeed professionally and personally.

What do you do when not practicing law?

When I’m not working, I’m running. Right now, I’m training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and the Flying Monkey Marathon here in Nashville. I’ve been running for about 10 years and have run two or three marathons a year since 2009.

And, I’m learning to cook. I’m just starting to get the hang of it, but I enjoy preparing healthy meals for my family.

About Best Lawyers in America

For more than three decades, Best Lawyers has been regarded — by both the profession and the public — as the most credible measure of legal integrity and distinction in the United States. As such, recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice.

Responsibility: Owning the Results

We started Thompson Burton to build a better law firm by creating a premium environment for everyone involved.  This environment is one that challenges everyone to grow both professionally and personally. We firmly believe that when people are treated with respect and given the autonomy to perform, the results can be significant.

In the beginning, we’ve defined our approach as “redefining the art of law.”  This statement originates from a belief that information by itself is a commodity.  The best way for lawyers to compete in this environment is by diving deep into complicated matters, providing specialized advice with full understanding of the nuances.  We’re not interested in commodity work, which leads us to our first core value: Responsibility.

In order to be successful when dealing with clients in complex situations, lawyers need to gain trust.  And there can be no trust without responsibility.

Here’s how we define responsibility:

“We accept responsibility, always. We own the results, good and bad.”

When Walt Burton and I founded the firm, we placed a high value on responsibility.  First, we had to be able to accept responsibility for our own decisions as we were building the firm.  Second, we wanted to send a signal to everyone that it’s ok to own the results, even when those results are poor.  When we accept responsibility as professionals, we put ourselves in an optimal position to learn.

Here a few of the ways that we encourage include personal responsibility:

  • The TB Challenge. Staff are encouraged to pursue a 90-day activity that stretches their limits. Challenges are reviewed and approved by our committee and range anywhere from academic achievements to fitness goals. For Jackie Dusek, the challenge was learning advanced German. For Alex Fischer and Justin Campbell, their challenge involved fitness. The important part of the challenge is the participants owned the results, good and bad.
  • Thompson Burton operates as a Results Only Work Environment (“ROWE”).  With ROWE, everyone at the office is given the freedom, flexibility and tools to get their work done however they prefer.  We have partners that work at the office three days a week, and it’s never been an issue.  When given autonomy, lawyers are happier and, in our view, more productive.  But it’s understood that in this environment of autonomy, we all are willing to accept responsibility for our results, whether they be good or bad.
  • Transparent Compensation. The compensation plan at our firm is transparent.  Our partners all have the same deal.  In our view, when compensation is subjective, the people setting the rules tend to look out for their own interests ahead of the people they’re supposed to be serving.  It breeds resentment and distrust, two toxic ingredients that can kill any organization.  The tradeoff of this kind of program: Lawyers own the result.  If an attorney has a bad month, there’s no way to blame someone else for their lack of production…the pressure rests exclusively on the attorney.  This is another example of accepting responsibility.

Responsibility is the cornerstone of success. I’m proud to work with a group of good attorneys. I’m more proud to work with a group of good people committed to shared success and responsibility to one another.

Steen Selected for Multiple Honors

RGSThompson Burton PLLC would like to congratulate partner Ronn Steen on his recent accomplishments. Steen was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, as well as Litigation – Bankruptcy.


According to the Best Lawyers® website, over 83,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote. The 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© analyzed 7.3 million votes in order to select leading lawyers in specific practice areas. Since lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers® is considered an outstanding honor.


Steen has also been the recipient of another prestigious honor this year – inclusion in the 2016 Mid-South Super Lawyers list. According to the Super Lawyers website, the selection process uses not only peer nominations and evaluations, but also independent research. Each attorney selected has been evaluated on twelve indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. No more than five percent of the lawyers in Tennessee are selected by Super Lawyers.


“It is a privilege and honor to be recognized by my peers, clients, and these organizations,” stated Steen. “I am humbled by these honors, and will continue to strive for excellence for my clients.  Thompson Burton, PLLC fosters an environment of excellence in the practice of law and client service, and so I will endeavor to continue professional excellence in my practice.”


Please join us in congratulating Ronn Steen on his selection.


For more information on the honors listed above, please visit www.bestlawyers.com and www.superlawyers.com.

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