Terry Elling is a litigation attorney in Holland & Knight's Government Contracts (GovCon) Practice Group in the firm's Tysons office. He is experienced in all principal aspects of government contracting.

Mr. Elling provides counsel and representation across the spectrum of government contract matters, including bid protests, claims, prime contractor-subcontractor disputes, small business contracting programs, suspension and debarment, as well as civil false claims.

Mr. Elling also has substantial experience in due diligence in connection with the merger and acquisition (M&A) of government contractors, as well as post-transaction matters such as novations. He also has extensive experience in compliance requirements associated with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) government contracting programs.

A significant portion of Mr. Elling's practice involves working with government contractors who perform in support of overseas/contingency and disaster-response operations and who market defense articles and services to foreign governments. In this regard, he also has extensive experience advising non-U.S.-based companies that compete for and perform government contracts and subcontracts. He also counsels contractors who work with non-U.S. team members to ensure compliance with U.S. export controls, the False Claims Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), industrial security and U.S. Combatant Command acquisition requirements.

Mr. Elling also has extensive experience in related areas such as:

  • intellectual property rights in technical data and computer software developed under or used to perform federal contracts
  • government ethics (conflicts of interest, gratuities and government post-employment restrictions)
  • industrial and personnel security, including foreign ownership and investment issues relating to government contractors
  • federal appropriations law
  • Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act

Mr. Elling brings a broad, strategic perspective to government contracts matters. He advises clients on the impact legal issues will have upon planned and ongoing programs and helps them identify and implement efficient and cost-effective solutions. As an Army trial attorney in the 1990s, Mr. Elling was an early advocate of alternative dispute resolution to resolve disputes while maintaining a positive working relationship between the government and its contractors. His accomplishments included a successful resolution of a large defective pricing claim covering multiple years of the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank program. Prior to his retirement from active military service in 2002, Mr. Elling held a number of government contract and litigation assignments, including chief of the Commercial Litigation Branch, U.S. Army Litigation Division and assistant general counsel (ethics and fiscal policy), Department of the Army.

Representative Experience

  • Enabled a client to retain award of a contract with a potential value of about $100 million for critical protective services for U.S. state department operations in Mogadishu, Somalia
  • Obtained several rounds of favorable corrective action for a U.S.- and non-U.S.-based team seeking award of a contract to maintain a legacy fleet of helicopters for the Afghanistan Air Force
  • Served as a principal member of the government legal team that successfully defended the best value award of a multibillion-dollar IT contract to automate personnel, logistics and training/readiness functions of Army Reserve component forces
  • Successfully protested an agency finding that a client was technically unacceptable under $100 million-plus logistics services contract; client was subsequently found technically acceptable and received contract award
  • Defended the award of a $440 million contract for the operations and maintenance of an Air Force satellite control network against a protest raising multiple challenges to the technical evaluation and allegations of organizational conflicts of interest

  • Recovered vast majority (more than 80 percent) of claim for additional compensation costs under large contract to provide depot-level maintenance services
  • Utilized an alternative dispute resolution process to obtain one of the government's largest post-litigation defective pricing recoveries involving subcontractor pricing over multiple years for a key component of a major weapon system
  • Served as the lead government contracts lawyer on a litigation team in district court litigation between a large military aircraft manufacturer and a competitor over rights in technical data relating to Navy aircraft and systems under government contracts performed by a competitor; trial resulted in favorable $30 million-plus jury verdict
  • Recovered entirety of a $16 million claim for construction changes and differing site conditions arising under a contract for construction of a large training facility for the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces
  • Recovered approximately 80 percent of a claim amount under a dispute arising from a contract for the disaster-related benefits registration intake and damage inspection services incident to Tropical Storm Sandy
  • Successfully litigated a government claim for disallowance of hazard and shift differential pay under a large contract to construct, operate and demobilize a facility for demilitarization of Cold War era chemical munitions, saving client over $1 million over the life of the contract

  • Reinstated a large metropolitan mass transit authority to eligibility for federal contracts and grants in a matter of days following statutory debarment for a Clean Water Act conviction; prompt reinstatement was critical to client's timely receipt of an annual federal grant that funded a major portion of operations
  • Successfully resolved a proposed debarment of an electronic component manufacturer based on allegations of nonconforming products; made prompt and effective submission and hearing presentation that demonstrated products were in fact conforming and client quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) systems met contract requirements
  • Made prompt affirmative submission to an agency debarment official that resulted in affirmative responsibility determination for a developer and manufacturer of a military radar system


  • The Judge Advocate General's School, U.S. Army, LL.M.
  • University of Illinois College of Law, J.D.
  • University of Illinois, B.A., Economics, magna cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Supreme Court of Virginia
  • American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section
  • Board of Contract Appeals Bar Association, Board of Governors
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • National Contract Management Association, Northern Virginia Chapter, Past President
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, former Chair, Board of Directors
  • American Society of Military Comptrollers, General Counsel; National Executive Counsel
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Government: Government Contracts, 2011, 2012 
  • Phi Beta Kappa


Speaking Engagements