William "Lee" Thuston

William "Lee" Thuston

Burr & Forman LLP

Recognized since 2001

Birmingham, Alabama

Practice Areas

Corporate Law

Economic Development Law

Mergers and Acquisitions Law

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2021 - Economic Development Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2015 - Economic Development Law
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William "Lee" Thuston is the Chairman of Burr & Forman overseeing the firm's Executive Committee as well as strategic initiatives, business development, and client service programs. Prior to becoming Chairman, Lee had served as Firm Managing Partner since 2005. Lee practices in the Corporate/Tax practice group where he focuses on economic development, business and succession planning, trusts and estates, and tax law.

Lee is a driving force behind Alabama’s economic development and has played a large role in some of the State’s major manufacturing deals. Lee has a wide variety of involvement in the manufacturing industry which includes serving as Alabama Counsel during the site selection and negotiation processes for Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.; Mi-Tech Steel, Inc.; and IPSCO Steel when these companies chose to locate their facilities in Alabama. His experience in the automotive industry also includes assisting Honda Manufacturing of Alabama with the implementation of its incentives package with the State for the development of its plant in Lincoln, AL, as well as assisting Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, LLC with the implementation of its incentive package with the State for the development of its plant in Montgomery, AL. He represented Honda in the establishment of its transmission manufacturing facility in Tallapoosa, GA in 2004.

Lee also negotiated the incentives packages with the State for the 2009 expansion of the Mercedes-Benz plant. Additionally, Lee represented Kia Motors Corporation with the site selection and implementation of its incentive package for the development of its plant in West Point, GA, as well as the ThyssenKrupp steel mills located in Mobile County, AL, and the Jack Daniel Cooperage Project located in Lawrence County, AL.

Lee was instrumental in boosting the State’s profile in the aerospace industry by working with public and private entities to create a desirable environment – legally, tax-wise, economic and socially – to attract Airbus to build a manufacturing facility in Mobile, AL.

In addition to working directly with State government and the Department of Commerce, local government, and developers, Lee is actively involved with organizations like the Birmingham Business Alliance – the organization that created Blueprint Birmingham, and the Alabama Automotive Manufacturer’s Association.


  • 420 North 20th Street, Suite 3400
    Birmingham, AL 35203


  • New York University , LLM ( Taxation ), graduated 1977
  • University of Virginia, BA, graduated 1971
  • Samford University , J.D.

Bar Admissions

  • Alabama, Alabama State Bar
  • Tennessee, Tennessee Bar Association


  • Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association - Board of Directors
  • Alabama State Bar - Member
  • American Bar Association - Member
  • Birmingham Bar Association - President (2005)
  • Birmingham Business Alliance - Executive Committee
  • Economic Development Partnership of Alabama - Corporate Secretary
  • Tennessee Bar Association - Member

Burr & Forman LLP
Birmingham, Alabama

180 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

34 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America awards

Best Law Firms Badge
Full Firm Profile

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2021 - Economic Development Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2015 - Economic Development Law

Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:

  • Economic Development Law, Birmingham (2021)
  • Economic Development Law, Birmingham (2015)

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 for work in:

  • Corporate Law
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Economic Development Law

Special Focus

  • COVID-19
  • General Corporate
  • Transactions


  • Chambers USA, Eminent Practitioner in Corporate/Commercial (2018-2019)
  • Chambers USA, Leading Practitioner in Corporate/Commercial (2003-2018)
  • Birmingham Business Journal, "CEO of the Year," Large Company Category (2015)
  • Best Lawyers in America, "Lawyer of the Year," Economic Development Law, Birmingham, Alabama (2015)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Alabama Wildlife Federation Conservation (2015)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Corporate Law, Economic Development Law (1999-2020)
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers, Business/Corporate (2016-2018)
  • Alabama Super Lawyers, Business/Corporate (2008-2015)
  • Birmingham Business Journal, "Most Influential Executives," Named to the list for his role in some of Alabama's largest economic development success stories (2014)

"Lee Thuston is one of the best lawyers in the country. He is a deal maker and is truly a business partner."

- Matthew J. Kendrick (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.), Vance, AL

"William Lee Thurston is an outstanding legal and business adviser. Integrity is his strong point. Lee is one of the best attorneys I have had the pleasure to work with."

"Burr & Foreman is an excellent firm, and Lee Thuston blends legal knowledge and business sense better than any attorney I have ever worked with."

"Lee Thuston played a key role in helping bring Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. to Alabama. Not only does Lee have vast knowledge and experience, he is extremely associated with and networked throughout the State of Alabama. He truly cares about his clients and is fully aware that "results matter." As Managing Partner at Burr & Forman, he has worked diligently to establish Burr & Forman's presence as the leading economic and development law firm in the Southeast."

- Marcus Jones (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.), Vance, AL

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