Our Story

Watson Burns, PLLC was founded by Frank L. Watson, III and William F. Burns, who first met in 1996 while working as trial lawyers for one of Tennessee’s oldest and most prestigious defense firms.  In 2005, they joined forces based on their shared vision of creating a boutique trial firm focused on winning high stakes civil litigation in the most efficient manner. To achieve this goal, the firm has maintained a strict policy of accepting and litigating only a handful of cases at any given time, with both partners evaluating and “signing off” on each new matter.  Being selective as to our caseload allows the firm and our staff to focus their attention and energy on the significant matters our clients face.  This model has worked better than we could have ever imagined, having led us to win a vast majority of our clients’ cases defended by some of the most aggressive law firms in the country, including Williams & Connolly, McDermott Will & Emery, Greenberg Trauig, Debevoise & Plimpton, Bass Berry & Sims, and Baker Donelson, just to name a few.  

Our Philosophy

We also believe that sharing part of a client’s litigation risk should be an inherent part of a trial lawyer’s representation.  As a result, we frequently encourage our clients to consider some form of a contingency fee or hybrid fee arrangement, regardless of whether they are a plaintiff or defendant in a given case. Unfortunately, most law firms do not share our philosophy of having some “skin in the game.”  Large defense firms, who are paid by the hour regardless of the outcome, often bill their clients unmercifully and at exorbitant rates.  With hourly billing as their only compensation, these lawyers are incentivized to protract litigation rather than resolve it, often trotting out every conceivable litigation tactic.  Meanwhile, large plaintiff firms paid solely on a contingency fee basis frequently troll for clients with costly television ads and other media, announcing their services like carnival pitchmen. Because mass advertising is extremely expensive, these plaintiff lawyers are driven to generate fees with quick, cheap settlements, many times to their clients’ detriment. Watson Burns does neither of these. 

Instead, we represent clients by thoroughly investigating claims and sharing in our clients’ risks. In doing so, we have recovered over $150 million for our clients in matters involving significant personal injury and wrongful death, consumer and RICO class actions, legal malpractice and investment fraud.  To learn more about our past success, please visist the Notable Cases section of this site.  To learn more about our legal fee arrangements, please visit the Legal Fees-How We Charge section of this site.