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HCTL Spotlight: Matt Burnstein


The HCTL Spotlight is a series of interviews with lawyers who practice healthcare transactional law, providing an in-depth look at the professionals within the field.

Matt Burnstein is a partner a Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis in the Greater Nashville area. He is an M&A and VC lawyer with experience across various industries with an emphasis on healthcare transactions.

Where are you from?

Louisville, KY. I came to Nashville in 1989 to Vanderbilt University and never left.

Where did you receive your undergraduate?  Where did you study law?

I graduated from Vanderbilt in 1993 and then went to Vanderbilt Law School, where I graduated in 1996.

How and why did you get into healthcare transactional law?

I started at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in 1997, having spent a year as a law clerk for a U.S. district court. During my first year of practice, I was staffed on the acquisition of a regional hospital in Elko, Nevada under one of the deals of healthcare transactional law, George Bishop. I found that transaction infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than the public securities work I was working on, so I stuck with it and have been doing it for the 17 years since.

Have you received any awards or recognitions? 

I’m ranked by Chambers for activity in healthcare transactions and Best Lawyers lists me in the category of Corporate Law. My 6-year old thinks I’m a great dad.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have an active 6-year old girl whom my wife and I spoil in our spare time. When not doing that, I live a very active life, playing a lot of golf and a lot of tennis. I run a lot (33 full marathons in 27 different states, to date), mostly before the rest of the house is awake. And I love to travel, with a noticeable fondness for Las Vegas.

Who has influenced you the most?

That could go different ways. Professionally, my mentor at the firm, Joe Sowell, now Chief Development Officer of HCA, had a tremendous impact on how I approach getting healthcare transactions done; that is, people are there to get a deal done, and my job is to facilitate in every way possible to preserve and strengthen the business relationships, while working hard to avoid undue risk-taking or exposure. Personally, my parents are creditable for most all of my good traits (and a few of my bad ones).

What do you love the most about what you do?

First, I get to interact with so many people every day, inside and outside of Waller. They’re interesting, and I get to learn every day — not just about business, but about their lives. Second, I get to show up to work every day and be surrounded by 200 smart, ambitious and interesting lawyers who have nice families and interesting hobbies, and who are the kind of people clients want to be around. How many people get to say that?

What do you do better than everyone else?

I’m good at a lot of things, but I’m not the best at anything. I’m not even the best healthcare transactions lawyer on the Waller’s 20th floor, because we have a bunch of great ones! But if you want someone who returns calls, digs in, quickly gets to the core of the issue, sees the angles, assesses the options, and then acts decisively, all the while being calm, affable and efficient, then I’m at least on the starting team! And if you need help with Blackjack basic strategy, I’m your man.