Theresa Y. Kananen


Direct: 404.873.7010
Fax: 404.873.7011
171 17th Street NW
Suite 2100
Atlanta, Georgia 30363


Theresa is a partner and serves as co-chair of the Payments Systems & Fintech industry team. She is also a member of the Litigation and Employment practices and the Emerging Technologies industry team.

Theresa’s payments systems practice encompasses the spectrum of legal needs on the acquiring side of the industry, ranging from regulatory and compliance advice to the transactional aspects of rolling out new products to adversarial fights. A litigator by training, Theresa represents processors, ISOs, and payment facilitators in disputes over chargebacks, reserves, data breaches, and merchant non-solicitation, with lawsuits ranging from one-off merchant fights to nationwide class actions. She has extensive experience handling government investigations of payments companies by the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and state attorneys general. On the compliance and regulatory side, Theresa advises clients on card brand rules, including complex issues regarding surcharging, convenience fees, and cash discounting programs. In addition, bringing her experience in defending government investigations to bear, Theresa advises acquirers on underwriting and risk monitoring practices to manage their merchant portfolios. A significant portion of her practice is devoted to assisting payments clients in rolling out new products by advising on compliance in design and implementation and drafting the foundational contracts needed to forge new partnerships.

On the employment side, Theresa’s experience includes advising and training employers and representing them in a full range of employment litigation, including claims involving discrimination and harassment, wage and hour issues, restrictive covenants, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and employment contracts. She has experience before administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor, as well as in both state and federal courts. She also regularly handles workplace investigations involving allegations of discrimination or harassment. An active speaker, Theresa regularly presents on the legal aspects of employment-related challenges.

As a result of her practice in employment law and the payments industry, Theresa has substantial experience with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. She advises clients on compliance issues in background screening and has handled civil disputes arising out of purported violations of the FCRA.

Theresa graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law, where she was a member of the Georgia Law Review and was honored as Best Notes Editor for 2007-08. She previously studied English and Spanish at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and has lived abroad in Brazil and Spain.


  • Negotiated settlement of FTC investigation of payments acquirer to conclude two-year dispute, which settlement included no individual liability and a completely suspended monetary judgment
  • Represented multiple acquiring clients in disputes with Federal Trade Commission regarding the seizure of reserve funds and obtained favorable settlement of same
  • Represented and defended multiple clients in payments industries in responding to civil investigative demands issued by Federal Trade Commission and in navigating investigations by the Federal Trade Commission
  • Successfully defeated class certification and obtained voluntary dismissal of a putative nationwide class action brought against payment processor and petroleum company regarding implementation of Visa’s Real Time Clearing program
  • Successfully defended claim brought against acquiring bank by former FSP seeking more than $200 million in damages, resulting in plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal on the eve of trial.
  • Successfully negotiated multiple payment processing partnerships on behalf of both new and established payment facilitators
  • Successfully represented payment processors in litigation with merchants, including disputes regarding early termination of merchant agreement, chargebacks, and disposition of merchant funds
  • Represented a major oil company in a workforce restructuring following the acquisition of another company, including issues regarding executive compensation regarding changes in control and unionized workforce
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of an employer on the claim that employee was terminated based on disability discrimination
  • Obtained complete defense verdict in a jury trial involving claims of legal malpractice and breach of contract


    • University of Georgia School of Law, Juris Doctor,
      magna cum laude
      • Staff Writer and Editor, Georgia Law Review, 2006-08
      • Best Notes Editor, Georgia Law Review, 2007-08
      • Excellence in the Studies of Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination Law, and Employment and Labor Law, University of Georgia; 2008
      • Excellence in Legal Research and Writing, University of Georgia, 2008
    • University of North Carolina, Bachelor of Arts - English and Spanish,
      with Honors and Highest Distinction
      • Phi Beta Kappa, 2004
      • Golden Key Honors Society, 2002
      • National Society of Collegiate Scholars, 2002
    • State of Georgia 2011
    • State of Arizona 2008
    • Court of Appeals of Georgia 2011
    • Supreme Court of Georgia 2011
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia 2011
    • State Courts of Arizona 2008
    • United States District Court for the District of Arizona 2008
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 2008
      • Electronic Transactions Association
      • Merchant Acquirers Committee
      • Employment Law Alliance
      • American Bar Association


    • “Rising Star,” Georgia Super Lawyers, 2017-18
    • “Forty Under 40,” The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), 2018

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