Since his childhood, Tom has spent a lot of time in the outdoors, which was a major catalyst for his decision to go to law school to study environmental law.
Tom focuses primarily on environmental, land use, and public access litigation, land conservation, nonprofit law, and general land use and real property law. During recent years, Tom has:
- On behalf of nonprofit groups and an individual, successfully challenged a proposed major shopping center in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, which would have violated Hawaii Land Use Commission laws;
- Initiated, and is continuing, on behalf of a nonprofit and individuals, a lawsuit to reopen the historic Haleakala Trail;
- Negotiated and drafted conservation easements and conservation-related property conveyances on most of Hawaii’s islands, including drafting the first several easements in Hawai`i under the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, also involving funding under the Hawaii Legacy Lands Conservation Program;
- Consulted with clients on sustainable agricultural projects; these have included complex inter-connected operations, including sustainable forestry projects, affordable housing, employee-owned businesses, and farm cooperatives with a master farm plan for small conservation developments;
- Assisted new organizations achieve tax exempt status, as well as consulted with public charities and private foundations on IRS compliance, organizational issues, and grantee due diligence;
- Represented clients on a variety of land use and planning and other real property matters, including: subdivision of lands; consolidation and resubdivision; condominium property regimes; state boundary district issues; height violations; special management area, shoreline setback, and other coastal issues; zoning enforcement issues; building code issues; title matters; Native Hawaiian rights issues; access, utility and view easements; due diligence of complex properties before purchase; seller disclosure issues; purchase-sale disputes; and disputes with neighbors;
- Taught conservation property law as an adjunct professor at the University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law; also been invited to speak at and participate in information meetings regarding the land trust model, as well as at strategic planning sessions for land trusts;
- Presented on conservation issues at Land Trust Alliance national conferences.
- Founding president of the Maui Coastal Land Trust, which has become Hawaiian Islands Land Trust — a state-wide land trust.
- Former board member of Public Access Trails Hawaii;
- Sponsored and facilitated the initial meetings on Maui, which led to the founding of Na Hale O Maui Comunity Land Trust.
Former Legal Positions:
- Attorney with the Maui office of Paul, Johnson, Park & Niles; practiced in the areas of litigation and administrative advocacy with an emphasis on land use and environmental law;
- Deputy Corporation Counsel, Department of the Corporation Counsel for the County of Maui; represented the County in environmental, land use, personal injury, and civil rights litigation in both the state and federal courts; also defended and counseled the County in employment and labor matters;
- Prior to attending law school, worked in various financial positions for close to a decade; employers included Merrill Lynch, E.F. Hutton, and Shearson Lehman Hutton.
- J.D. from the University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law; received a Certificate in Environmental Law; member of the University of Hawai`i Law Review; director of the Hawai`i Environmental Law Society; received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Second Year Seminar: Environmental Law;
- B.A. from St. John’s College (Great Books program);
- Graduated from Washington D.C. Capitol Page School while serving as a U.S. Congressional Page, and later as a Courtroom Attendant at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Co-author of Easement Revitalization: A Problem-Solving Guidebook for Land Trusts (funded and published by Open Space Institute) (2013)
Author of A Constitutionally Valid Justification for the Enactment of No-Growth Ordinances: Integrating Concepts of Population Stabilization and Sustainability 19 U. Haw. L. Rev. 93 (1997)