January 22, 2018

About Us

About Us

The ABA Fund for Justice and Education is 501(c)(3) charitable fund that support the public service and educational programs of the American Bar Association.




Robert H. Thomas is a land use and appellate lawyer, and focuses on regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and election and political law 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 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 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 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 also the Co-Planning Chair (with Joe Waldo, of Virginia) of the American Law Institute-CLE’s annual three-day conference on condemnation law, Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation. Robert is also the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties. He is listed in Best Lawyers in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law, and Land Use & Zoning Law, and in Super Lawyers in Appellate Law, Land Use / Zoning, and Government / Cities / Municipalities.

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 Bar Association — Chair-Elect, Section of State and Local Government Law (2016-17); 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

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals (Ninth and Federal Circuits)
  • U.S. District Court (Hawaii and Northern District of California)
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Tax Court

The ABA Section of State and Local Government Law is the premier association for lawyers involved in urban, state, and local government law and policy. Our membership includes lawyers in private practice who represent countless government agencies across the country, in academia, the judiciary and government lawyers who turn to the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law to access the latest expert information on issues that relate to their practice and share ideas and best practices with colleagues. We like to refer to our Section as "small, but mighty," boasting almost 12,000 combined lawyer and student members and a 1.8 person staff.

We offer programs focusing on topics such as municipal finance, diversity law, tax increment financing, land use, public education and bullying, election law, land use, ethics and procurement. In addition to producing a quarterly newsletter, monthly enews and a quarterly scholarly journal, The Urban Lawyer, the Section leaders produce between 4 and 8 publications each year.

The Section recently answered the call to draft an amicus brief for the Supreme Court on behalf of the . Later, that information was submitted to the House of Delegates as a report with recommendation which the adopted. Resolution 302 [s]upports the principle that “private” lawyers representing governmental entities are entitled to claim the same qualified immunity provided “government” lawyers from 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 claims when they are acting "under color of state law.” The day before we left for the 2012 spring meeting, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of our position in this matter, which paralleled the ethics CLE on this topic during the meeting.

While our Section content is impressive, even more impressive is the Section’s steadily growing membership and commitment to diversity, specifically, inclusion efforts in substantive programs and publications, and in leadership succession planning. Many entities have written policies, but the Section’s commitment in practice is admirable.

Is this Section right for me?

The ABA Section of State and Local Government Law encompasses many practice areas:

  • Administrative Law
  • Condemnation
  • Environmental Law
  • Government Liability
  • Government Operations
  • Homeland Security
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Land Use
  • Municipal Bond Practice
  • Public Contract Law
  • Public Education
  • Public Finance
  • Public Utility Law
  • Regulatory Practice
  • Zoning