Thomas A. Burns is the founding shareholder of Burns, P.A. He is a board-certified appellate specialist with extensive experience defending and prosecuting lawsuits at the trial and appellate levels, in both state and federal courts. 

Before returning to Florida in 2009, Thomas practiced for five years in Washington, D.C., with the appellate departments of Sidley Austin LLP and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. In Tampa, he practiced for three years in the appellate departments of Hill, Ward & Henderson, P.A. and Greenberg Traurig, P.A. In those capacities, he represented leading companies from diverse industries in a wide variety of disputes.

Mr. Burns has substantial experience with appellate matters. He has litigated over 100 federal appellate matters in the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Eighth, Eleventh, D.C., and Federal Circuits. He has also litigated over 100 state appellate matters in various state supreme and intermediate appellate courts, including the Florida Supreme Court and all five Flor-ida district courts of appeal. In doing so, Mr. Burns has presented dozens of oral ar-guments, including 22 oral arguments in the Eleventh Circuit.

During his career, Mr. Burns has received numerous honors. Super Lawyers has selected Mr. Burns as a “rising star” in appellate practice in 2015, 2016, and 2017 and as a “super lawyer” in appellate practice from 2018 through 2022. Similar-ly, from 2018 through 2021, Florida Trend selected Mr. Burns to its “legal elite” in appellate practice.

Recent representative past civil appellate matters have involved expert and preemption rulings in $10+ million medical device lawsuits, securities regulations implicating billions of dollars, and personal injury lawsuits involving life-altering in-juries. Recent representative past criminal appellate matters have concerned multi-million-dollar schemes involving mortgage fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, and pain clinics. Representative past trial support matters include acting as lead appel-late counsel in a $200 million insurance-coverage and bad-faith dispute and a $400,000 breach of contract dispute in lengthy federal jury trials.

Before entering private practice, Thomas served as a law clerk to the Hon. Susan H. Black of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Jacksonville, Florida. Thomas graduated from the Duke University School of Law cum laude in 2003, where he was elected Executive Editor of the Duke Law Journal and was the David Siegel Scholar. Thomas graduated from Duke University magna cum laude in 2000.

Thomas was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. His mother is a retired architect from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and his father is a retired atomic physicist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Thomas is proficient in French and speaks rudimentary Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish. Outside the office, Thomas enjoys playing tennis, reading, traveling with his wife, and watching movies and sports.


  • J.D., cum laude, Duke University School of Law, 2003
    • Duke Law Journal, Executive Editor
    • David Siegel Scholar
  • A.B., magna cum laude, Duke University, 2000

Judicial Clerkship

  • Hon. Susan H. Black, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Jacksonville, Florida, 2003-2004

Prior experience

  • Sidley Austin LLP, Washington, D.C., 2002 (summer), 2003 (summer), 2004-2007
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Washington, D.C., 2007-2009
  • Hill, Ward & Henderson, P.A., Tampa, Florida, 2009-2010
  • Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Tampa, Florida, 2011-2012

Admission Details

  • D.C.
  • Florida
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • Eleventh Circuit
  • Federal Circuit
  • Middle District of Florida
  • Southern District of Florida


  • Goldburg-Cacciatore Criminal Law American Inn of Court
  • The American Bar Association 
  • The Florida Bar Association (Appellate Practice Section) 
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association (Appellate Practice Section) 
  • American Constitution Society

Sample briefs

Sample oral arguments

Publications and Presentations