Thomas M. Brownell is a member of Holland & Knight's Government Contracts Group, who practices in the areas of government contracts (GovCon) and commercial litigation, with particular emphasis in the areas of claims and disputes in government service and construction contracts.

Mr. Brownell has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of federal, state and local government contracting, construction contracts, business disputes and real estate litigation. His earliest practice involved antitrust litigation in the defense and healthcare industries. Since then, he has advised clients and litigated disputes concerning U.S. federal government contracts, including bid protests, claims against the government and government claims against the contractor, subcontractor claims, and False Claims Act (FCA) investigations and qui tam suits. Mr. Brownell's construction practice has involved claims and disputes concerning delays, extra work and construction defects, as well as collections work involving mechanic's liens and payment bonds. His business disputes practice has included issues involving ownership and governance of corporations, LLCs and partnerships, as well as litigating nondisclosure, noncompete and nonsolicitation covenants in employment agreements and commercial contracts.

Mr. Brownell's practice regularly involves representation before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Boards of Contract Appeals, federal and state courts in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and arbitration panels of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and other tribunals.

Mr. Brownell's recent representative engagements include:

  • preparation and successful negotiation of a $6 million claim against a defense department agency for unpaid costs incurred by a prime contractor performing translation services in Afghanistan
  • successful defense of a multimillion-dollar subcontractor arbitration claim involving base operating agreements for the Afghan government in Afghanistan
  • a defense award for the prime contractor in a subcontractor's arbitration to recover termination costs under a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contract
  • successful defense of another U.S. government prime contractor against a subcontractor termination claim in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • a plaintiff's verdict in a suit to recover profits due the minority shareholder of a government contractor in circuit court in Virginia
  • successful settlement of contentious wage and hour class actions brought against his clients by employees of defaulting subcontractors in federal courts in Virginia and the District of Columbia
  • successful protests of local government contract awards in Virginia and Maryland

Mr. Brownell has written and lectured over the years on various aspects of construction law for National Business Institutes Inc., and on government construction law for the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).

Representative Experience

  • Counseling: advised a munitions equipment manufacturer on terms and conditions of subcontracts and teaming agreements for sales to governmental customers in the Mideast
  • Litigation: represented a subcontractor in filing a lawsuit and then negotiating a settlement of lost profits due to the prime contractor’s failure to award sufficient work share under a teaming agreement over the five-year life of the resulting subcontract
  • Counseling: represented a client in avoiding a default termination in a subcontract to construct a food service facility in Afghanistan
  • Litigation: represented a government prime contractor in litigation with a subcontractor in a multi-million dollar termination for convenience claim; our team convinced the federal court to award the subcontractor less than half of the amount it requested and then obtained the full amount of the judgment, plus all of the client’s attorneys’ fees and costs, from the government in a subsequent claim


  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., magna cum laude
  • St. John's University, B.A., History, summa cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Virginia
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • American Bar Association, Section of Public Contract Law; Forum on Construction Law
  • Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Board of Directors, 2002-Present; Board Chairman, 2009-2011 and 2012-2014
  • Fairfax County Crime Solvers Inc., Board, 1995-Present; President, 2007-2008
  • National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Tysons Chapter, Board of Directors, 2008-2010
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Litigation - Construction, 2007-2023
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020, 2021
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Construction Law, 2007-2016
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
  • Georgetown Law Journal
Spoken Languages
  • English
  • Spanish


Speaking Engagements