top of page


Land Use


The wise and regenerative use of land, whether natural, rural, or urban is at the core of our land use practice.  We represent property owner clients seeking to obtain entitlements from state, local, and federal government to use their land.  We counsel and represent local governments in zoning and planning law.  We also represent individuals and conservation and historic preservation advocacy groups in opposing the inappropriate or illegal use or exploitation of land.


Our extensive experience in representing these various interests in the use of land, whether they are property owners, regulating authorities, or advocacy organizations and citizens groups, allows us to understand in a unique way the complex dynamics of land disputes and to better counsel and advocate for whomever our client is in any particular situation.

Mediation & Arbitration


Our lawyers have extensive experience serving as neutrals in mediation and arbitration and have achieved professional recognition for their skill in this area. 


Jon Austen has a full-time mediation and neutral practice. He is available to assist parties in reaching a resolution to their disputes every day, whether as a mediator, arbitrator, special judge or referee. 


Andy Gowder is available for mediation and hearing officer services in land use, environmental, and other real estate disputes, including appeals for the decisions of zoning boards of appeal and boards of architectural review. 


Tom Hesse serves as a municipal judge in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. and is available for mediation and service as an arbitrator, special judge, or referee.

Insurance Coverage


The lawyers at Austen & Gowder have represented parties in insurance coverage litigation for many years.  In addition to litigation services related to insurance coverage, Tom Hesse is available to serve as an expert witness on insurance coverage issues, having served as a senior executive at a regional insurance company in addition to his many years in private legal practice.

State & Local Government


The lawyers at Austen & Gowder have served and continue to serve as the town or city attorney for local municipalities in the Charleston area and have otherwise provided legal services and representation to local government on a case-specific basis.  In addition, in land use matters as well as matters involving local ordinances, state statutes, and the state and federal constitution, our attorneys represent individuals, organizations, and businesses in securing their rights through engagement with and litigation against state and local governments. 

Intellectual Property


As part of our service to our clients who may be starting new businesses or nonprofit organizations, we protect their trademarks and copyrighted material by advising them and, where appropriate, filing applications for trademark and copyright registration and defending their rights in litigation if necessary.



Our firm is known for providing counsel to many nonprofit organizations in the Charleston area, as well as national or international NGOs operating from their base in South Carolina.  We often take the organizations from corporate formation to obtaining their tax-exempt status, to serving as general counsel for them, to providing advice, counsel, and advocacy as needed by these organizations as they grow and do their good work over the years.  Many organizations that Austen & Gowder continue to represent as general counsel were formed with their help years ago. Our firm is proud to partner with these dedicated and visionary public servants and local heroes in their good and essential work.

General Counsel


As detailed in the other Practice Area summaries, our firm is trusted by many of our clients to advise and counsel them over many years and to serve as their outside general counsel. We pride ourselves in the trust and confidence our clients have in us.  Serving as a trusted counselor to individuals, families, organizations, and business entities is one of the most satisfying things that we do.

Employment Law


As part of our service for our clients, we provide advice, counseling, and representation in litigation, if necessary, in employment related disputes.

bottom of page