Thomas A. Rawlinson



  • B.Mus., Adelaide University, 2006
  • J.D., Melbourne Law School, 2012
  • LL.M., Columbia Law School, 2017
    James Kent Scholar


  • Hon. Justice Geoffrey A.A. Nettle, High Court of Australia
  • Hon. Chief Justice Trevor Riley, Supreme Court of the Northern Territory

Awards, Honors, Certifications

  • Melbourne JD Award, Top Student
  • Melbourne Law School Scholarship (2011, 2012), National Scholarship (2010)
  • Co-Editor-in-Chief, Melbourne University Law Review
  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth Prize for First in Class in Constitutional Law 
  • Howell’s List Award for First in Class in Evidence and Proof
  • Clayton Utz Prize for First in Class in Dispute Resolution
  • Award for First in Class in Cross-Border Litigation
  • John Madden Exhibition for the Jessup Moot

Bar and Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York
  • New York
  • Supreme Court of Victoria
  • High Court of Australia

Thomas (“Tom”) Rawlinson (formerly Bland) is an Associate at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.  His practice focuses on strategic business disputes, anti-discrimination litigation, and public interest litigation. 

Tom has substantial experience representing clients in complex business disputes in the hospitality, technology, resources and cultural sectors.  Since joining the firm, Tom has been a key member of the team that has successfully represented a large hotel developer in a fast-paced dispute, including asserting and defending simultaneous court and arbitral proceedings in multiple forums.  Tom represents a major tech company in several strategically significant cases in New York.  He has also advised the managers of a significant art estate in settling a time-sensitive dispute and establishing a new management structure.

Tom has a particular interest in redressing gender inequality, particularly in the media and education sectors.  He has assisted a large media company in conducting an internal review of policies, procedures, and practices relating to workplace gender equity, and, in the context of the #MeToo movement, has helped defend women who have been sued for defamation by men accused of sexual misconduct.  Tom has also advised educational institutions and government departments on anti-discrimination disputes, including litigation under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. 

Tom is also a member of the team representing victims of the violent white supremacist “rallies” in Charlottesville in August 2017, and helped draft a Supreme Court amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

“My goal as a lawyer is to engage in fearless advocacy grounded in thoughtful and rigorous advice.”

Before joining the firm, Tom worked as an Associate in the commercial dispute resolution group at Allens Linklaters in Melbourne, Australia.  At Allens, Tom worked on mass-tort and securities class actions, regulatory and white-collar criminal investigations, and corporate insolvency and restructuring. His clients included global resources companies, major financial institutions, global automotive companies, and government agencies.  His significant cases included helping a resources company to settle a decade-long dispute with the Australian Tax Office, obtaining court approval of the settlement of a multi-million-dollar shareholder class action on behalf of a bank, and representing a government agency in a disability discrimination suit that was settled favorably.

Tom also represented refugees and asylum seekers in pro-bono strategic litigation. He was a key associate in a team that represented an asylum seeker detained in an offshore detention center who had urgent medical needs.  The team tried and won the case in less than three weeks from inception to verdict, establishing a landmark precedent holding that the Australian government owes a duty to provide medical care to offshore detainees.  Tom also volunteered at Justice Connect Homeless Law, where he argued in Melbourne’s housing tribunals and local courts on behalf clients at risk of homelessness.

“I am passionate about using the law to strengthen our democratic and civic institutions. Now more than ever, we need to make our constitutional values a reality for ordinary people.”

Tom received a Master of Laws from Columbia Law School in 2017, graduating a James Kent Scholar.  He studied American constitutional theory and history with a particular focus on the First Amendment.  Tom has a strong interest in the First Amendment rights of protestors, whistleblowers and journalists.

Tom clerked for Justice Geoffrey A.A. Nettle at the High Court of Australia (Australia’s highest court) and for Chief Justice Trevor Riley at the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.  Tom graduated second in his class from Melbourne Law School, where he served as co-Editor-in-Chief of the Melbourne University Law Review; represented the School in the Jessup Moot; and won first-in-class prizes for constitutional law, dispute resolution, evidence, and transnational litigation.

Outside the law, Tom is an avid electric guitarist, and has performed extensively in both Australia and New York.