Thompson Burton Named Finalist for NBJ “Best in Business”

I’m proud to share that Thompson Burton has been named a finalist for the 2017 Nashville Business Journal’s “Best in Business” awards. The firm is one of seven finalists in the category for businesses with 1-25 employees.

The NBJ determined the finalists after taking nominations from the public and having a judging panel of past winners choose finalists based on profitability, community involvement and other metrics.

I want to congratulate the other finalists. It’s wonderful to be in the company of many great Middle Tennessee businesses.

Thompson Burton is also proud to be the only law firm among the 29 finalists in all categories. Walt and I shared a common vision for a different type of law firm when we founded Thompson Burton five years ago. This recognition reinforces that the firm is doing the right things.

Most importantly, I want to recognize the entire Thompson Burton team. Everyone has embraced our vision and helped make the firm the success it is today. They are the reason that we enjoy coming to work every day and have a bright future ahead.

The winners in each category will be announced at an awards luncheon on March 7. Wish us luck.

TB Profile: Cathy Speers Johnson

When did you know you wanted to be an attorney?

I thought I wanted to be a school teacher. Then, my smart mom, who was a fabulous, dedicated school teacher, said, “Honey, why don’t you go to law school?” So I did.  My mom was discouraged about the pay for teachers for the hard work that they do.

In law school, I gravitated toward family law. I have a huge love for children and a desire to protect them. Being a divorce attorney, I do a lot of direct and indirect child advocacy.  I guide my clients to think about how their actions and statements in the midst of their divorce can help or hurt their kids.

I have loved my career. In my type of work, much of what I do is counseling people going through very difficult situations. I like being able to help them navigate through the tough times they are facing.  I have been divorced, so I truly can tell my clients that I know how gut wrenching it is.

How did you choose your specialty?

I started in Atlanta for three years doing both family and employment law. From the beginning, family law was my favorite.

That said, employment law was enticing because the facts were juicy and the cases can be complicated.  Sexual harassment cases and hostile work environment cases show a lot of human nature in them.

In 2001, I moved to Stites & Harbison in Nashville and focused almost exclusively on family law.

Why did you choose Thompson Burton?

I really enjoyed my time at Stites and loved my team there. At the same time, I had three kids and needed more flexibility in my professional schedule. I wanted the option of working from home some days without feeling like I was letting others down in some way.  I have an awesome home office that allows me all I need to work a full day…while doing a few loads of laundry.

Ronn Steen joined Thompson Burton in February 2014 and reached out to me a few months later.  I liked what I heard about the firm, and I liked the folks I met.

The firm had the right business model for someone like me. It’s very flexible – adjusting to fit how and from where you want to work.

What makes a successful client relationship?

Communication is the most important factor in family law relationships. There is a lot of emotion and commotion.  I am grateful for my undergraduate minors in psychology and family and child development. I use them both a lot.

The divorce process usually takes six to nine months, so I have to stay in touch with our clients regularly. My paralegal, Jackie Dusek, also does a ton of communicating with our clients.  They reach out to her when I am tied up, and she is remarkable.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I spend a lot of time with my husband and children.

For fun, I love to travel. It’s one of the biggest line items in our family budget.  Memories being made that I will never forget.  It is good to get away from work, too.  Clears my head.  My husband works super hard, too, so we need breaks to unwind and catch up.

We went to the British Virgin Islands last September. I’m looking forward to a trip Italy in July.

And we have two Florida family trips already on the books for this year. Good times!

Things I Am Grateful For This Year


Fortunately for Thompson Burton, the end of 2016 was hectic. Many of our attorneys were working on year-end deals and cases with our clients.

Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the firm and why I’m grateful for where the firm is at this time.

Client Trust

Client trust is the lifeblood of any law firm. Every day, we help our clients make important – and sometimes difficult — decisions that affect their companies’ bottom lines.

Clients have to trust that Thompson Burton attorneys have their interests at heart.

Likewise, they have to trust us with sensitive information so that we can make the best possible recommendations.

Finally, they have to trust that we will provide the right legal advice given the situation and not just what the client wants to hear.

Service to Our Community

Kevin Thompson recently wrote about service in a previous blog post.

I am always proud of how we are making a difference not just professionally but also personally.  We want to be able to do this for our attorneys and in the community.


All good organizations have an identity. Creating the right culture is one of my top priorities.

Thompson Burton’s identity starts with our values. It’s gratifying to see attorneys and staff embrace and apply these values professionally and personally.

We think we have the right cultural mix to foster creativity and productivity.

Middle Tennessee

Four years ago when Kevin and I founded the firm, we didn’t necessarily know that Nashville and Middle Tennessee would boom economically the way it has the last few years.

It’s a great time for Middle Tennessee, and we’re seeing that in the firm’s book of business.


The legal profession is generally conservative. That said, one has to take risks to grow and achieve one’s potential.

I’m grateful when new attorneys take a risk to join our firm, especially those who leave larger, more established firms.

Similarly, I love to see our attorneys and staff embrace new ways of doing business that benefit everyone. We want to be the firm that breaks the mold when it makes sense — whether it’s technology or a business practice — and never settles to be like everyone else.

Work/Life Balance

The legal business can be demanding. It’s not a 9-to-5 business. That’s why they call it a “profession” and not a “job”.

I’m grateful that Thompson Burton decided from the beginning to embrace technology to foster work-life balance so that we serve our clients and while not missing out on important moments with our loved ones.


Kevin and I have believed from the beginning that “passion drives excellence.”

It’s wonderful to be surrounded by people who share our passion for providing the best possible legal advice to clients while building a firm in which we all take pride.

What’s Next

2016 was a banner year for Thompson Burton which brought record revenues and growth for the firm. I’m excited to see what 2017 brings and to come to work every day with such a great team.

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