Paul J. Kiernan is a trial lawyer and appellate advocate who represents clients in corporate governance litigation, administrative agency litigation, real estate disputes and financial services actions. He represents businesses, developers, institutions, lenders, hotels, landlords and tenants on land-use, condemnation, development and property management disputes, corporate fights and matters involving distressed real estate.

Mr. Kiernan has substantial experience in commercial litigation, commercial and international arbitration and government contract litigation. He manages and resolves complex contract and business litigation.

Mr. Kiernan has handled all types of injunctions, emergency hearings and other requests for immediate judicial action in the face of business or other crises – including matters involving trade secrets, disloyal employees, corporate governance, destruction of property and threatened government interference.

From 2008-2019, Mr. Kiernan served as executive partner for Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C. office. He also previously served as practice group leader for the firm's Mid-Atlantic Litigation Group and on the advisory board for Holland & Knight's Women's Initiative.

Representative Matters

Corporate Litigation

  • represented a corporation and its directors in valuation and fraud suits brought by withdrawing shareholders
  • defended company owners sued in fraudulent conveyance action
  • represented policyholders in D&O insurance coverage suit
  • retained as new appeal counsel and overturned multimillion-dollar judgment
  • defended trade association in contract dispute
  • represented foreign company seeking to block enforcement of vacated arbitration award

Reported decisions include: W.C. & A.N. Miller Dev. Co. v. Continental Casualty Co., 814 F.3d 171 (4th Cir. 2016); Kohn v. McGuire Woods, 541 Fed. Appx. 163, 2013 WL 4312272 (3d Cir. 2013); TermoRio S.A. ESP v. Electrificadora, 487 F.3d 928 (D.C.Cir. 2007); BLT Burger DC, LLC v. Norvin 1301 CT, LLC, 86 A.3d 1139 (D.C. 2014); Adkins Limited Partnership v. O Street Management LLC, 56 A.3d 1159 (D.C. 2012).

Real Estate Matters

  • defended companies sued for failed land development project
  • represented mixed-use developer whose project was challenged by neighbors and residents
  • resolved disputed tenancy of foreign embassy
  • defended a commercial building owner in suit brought by neighboring owner over restaurant fumes
  • represented a major downtown landlord in a lawsuit testing the interpretation of tax and CAM provision of commercial lease
  • represented commercial developers in a Maryland mixed-use project affected by the real estate downturn
  • worked with a quasi-public development agency on eminent domain issues for revitalization of a shopping area in the District of Columbia
  • helped commercial landlord deal with tenant on percentage rent and occupancy claims
  • represented major retail tenant in dispute regarding terms for lease extension
  • represented a national retailer resisting displacement from its downtown site
  • represented a hotel company in arbitration with hotel owner

Reported decisions include: Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Ass'n, Inc. v. District of Columbia Housing Auth., 311 F.Supp.2d 57 (D.D.C. 2018); Barry Farms Tenant and Allies Ass'n v. District of Columbia Zoning Commission,182 A.3d 1214 (D.C. 2018); Durant v. District of Columbia Zoning Commission, 139 A.3d 880 (D.C. 2016); Franco v. National Capital Revitalization Corporation, 930 A.2d 160 (D.C., 2007); Rumber v. District of Columbia, 487 F.3d 941 (D.C.Cir. 2007); Wolff v. Westwood Management, LLC, 558 F.3d 517 (D.C.Cir. 2009); Spring Valley-Wesley Heights Citizens Association v. District of Columbia Zoning Commission, 88 A.3d 697 (D.C. 2014).

Institutional and Administrative Litigation

  • filed suit on behalf of a foreign airline when new Department of Transportation rules threatened to disrupt the National Hockey League season
  • represented the owner and operator of a power plant against a local government seeking to curtail its operations
  • argued appeals on behalf of land owners seeking to defend government approvals when challenged by neighboring owners
  • represented class of developmentally disabled citizens seeking proper treatment from District of Columbia agencies

Reported decisions include: Evans v. Fenty, 714 F.Supp. 116 126 (D.D.C. 2010); Alexandria City Council v. Mirant Potomac River, LLC, 643 S.E.2d 203 (Va. 2007).

Mr. Kiernan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Daniel J. O'Hern of the New Jersey Supreme Court during the 1983-1984 term. He was previously associated with the firms of Dunnells, Duvall, Bennett & Porter and Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick & Lane. He has given presentations on eminent domain, trial preparation and tactics, law-firm management and legal writing. His pro bono representations have included work with a stalking victim and securing parental rights for a single father.


  • Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude
  • Rutgers University, B.A., History and English, magna cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Village of Chevy Chase, Maryland, Councilmember and Chair for Section 3, 1998-2008
  • District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility, Hearing Committee, Chair, 2004-2010
Honors & Awards
  • Power 100: Washington's Most Influential Newsmakers, Washington Business Journal, 2017
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Litigation - Real Estate, 2012-2015, 2017-2020; Commercial Litigation, 2013, 2015, 2017-2020
  • Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers magazine, 2008-2019
  • Corporate Counsel Edition, Super Lawyers magazine, 2009-2011
  • Legal Elite, Washington SmartCEO Magazine, 2007
  • Top Washington Lawyer, Washington Business Journal, Real Estate Litigation, 2006
  • Pro Bono All Star, Holland & Knight, 2007
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated


Speaking Engagements