An elected member of the American Law Institute, Robert H. Thomas is a land use and appellate lawyer, and focuses on regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and voting rights cases. He has tried cases and appeals in Hawaii, California, and the federal courts. For a list of reported cases in which he’s been involved, go here.
Robert received his LLM, with honors, from Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his JD from the University of Hawaii School of Law where he served as editor of the Law Review.
Robert is the inaugural Joseph T. Waldo Visiting Chair in Property Rights Law at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he teaches upper-division courses in eminent domain, property rights, and property law. He also recently completed a year as the Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section on State & Local Government Law, and was the long-time Chair of the Section’s Eminent Domain Law Committee. He is the Editor in Chief of the Section’s scholarly legal journal on municipal law issues, The Urban Lawyer.
He is the Hawaii member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of the most experienced eminent domain and property rights lawyers. Membership in OCA is by invitation only, and is limited to a single attorney from each state. He is the Co-Planning Chair of the American Law Institute-CLE’s long-standing three-day national conference on condemnation law, Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation, now in its 37th year. Robert is the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties.
Robert once again was selected by his peers to the 2020 Best Lawyers in America list in the fields of Eminent Domain & Condemnation Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Litigation-Land Use & Zoning, and Real Estate Law. He was Best Lawyers’ Lawyer of the Year 2019 for Litigation – Land Use & Zoning, 2018 and 2014 Lawyer of the Year for Eminent Domain & Condemnation Law, and 2017 Lawyer of the Year in Land Use & Zoning Law. Robert is also listed in Super Lawyers in Appellate Law, Land Use/Zoning, and Government/Cities/Municipalities. Robert also taught law at the University of Santa Clara School of Law, and was an exam grader and screener for the California Committee of Bar Examiners.
He is also a frequent speaker on land use and eminent domain issues in Hawaii and nationwide. Robert regularly publishes scholarly and practical articles in his area of practice. For a partial list, go here. His blog on land use, property, and takings law, inversecondemnation.com, is one of the most widely-read blogs on those subjects.
Land Use Law blog
Professional and Community Affiliations
- American Law Institute – Elected Member
- American Bar Association – Chair Section of State and Local Government Law (2017-18); Past Chair, Eminent Domain Law Committee (Section of State & Local Government Law) (2009-2016); Council of Appellate Lawyers; Litigation Section, Committee on Condemnation, Zoning and Land use (Hawaii editor, Case Notes)
- State Bar of California
- Hawaii State Bar Association
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals (Third, Fourth, Ninth, Eleventh, and Federal Circuits)
- U.S. District Court (Hawaii and Northern District of California)
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Tax Court