T. Thomas Gates

"High-flying” real estate attorney

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“The unvarnished truth is what clients expect from us, and we deliver it.”

Before founding Mirador Real Estate Advisors and his law firm, The Law Offices of Tilman Thomas Gates PLLC, Tom Gates worked as development director at Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse in Baltimore, completed a master’s degree in real estate at The Johns Hopkins University, and represented commercial real estate developers and investors at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. in Charlotte, NC, where he was a shareholder and chair of the real estate development and finance practice group.  

Tom is fluent in Spanish and has strong international experience, with clients in Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, and the Bahamas who have real estate interests and business operations in the United States. 

As a delegate to the Interlaw legal network for more than eight years, including two terms as chair of the North American Real Estate Special Business Team, Tom built professional and personal relationships with lawyers in more than 130 cities throughout the world. 

Tom also is known on another circuit – the world of competitive barbecue. He was a Memphis Barbecue Network judge and competitor for several years and has his own proprietary rub for smoking ribs.  

Don’t be surprised if Tom flies himself to a business meeting. The avid sportsman is an instrument-rated pilot who loves flying so much that he now pilots his own Mooney M20J – often to his hunting lease at Waukegan Farms near Danville, VA. 

Tom’s wife and their two sons enjoy his grilled venison and quail, but wild turkey has not yet made the menu. “The turkeys on our lease are the safest in Caswell County,” he jokes about the birds that keep eluding him. 

What has Tom done for clients?

  • Advised the developer of long-term credit build-to-suit facilities for investment-grade corporate clientele, including headquarters office facilities and regional distribution facilities in 18 states
  • Guided regional developers in the acquisition, development, financing and disposition of retail shopping centers in NC, SC, AL and VA. 
  • Advised an owner in the leasing, management, refinancing, and sale of two high-rise office buildings in uptown Charlotte
  • Counseled an owner and manager in the leasing and management of approximately 1 million square feet of furniture showroom space in High Point, NC
  • Advised a developer in the acquisition, financing, repositioning (including the relocation of Michael’s Stores and new leases with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kirkland’s Stores) and sale of a retail shopping center in Columbia, SC
  • Advised offshore corporate clients and their US subsidiaries on office and industrial real estate matters arising from mergers, acquisitions, and operations in the US

Professional affiliations

  • Counselors of Real Estate, 2010-present; Carolinas Chapter Board of Directors, 2011-present, Chairman, 2015-2017
  • Interlaw Delegate, 2008-2016; North American Real Estate Special Business Team, Co-chair, 2011-2016
  • Mecklenburg County Bar, Grievance Committee, 2011-14
  • Leadership Charlotte, Class 27
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, 2000-present
  • Urban Land Institute, Associate Member, 1999-present

Community affiliations

  • Queens University of Charlotte, Board of Visitors, 2015-present
  • Charlotte Bilingual Preschool, 2003-14; Chairman, 2006 and 2012-14
  • Catawba Lands Conservancy, Board of Directors, 2004-10; Secretary, 2008-10; Executive Committee 2008-10; Lands Acquisition Committee, 2000-12, Chairman, 2004-10. Rejoining board, 2018.
  • Charlotte Preschool Partnership, Board of Directors, 2006-08; President, 2008

Instruction and publications

  • Co-authored “Foreign Investment in Real Estate: North Carolina,” Thomson Reuters Practical Law, 2016
  • Together with members of Arias & Muñoz, a law firm with offices throughout Central America, co-authored the Costa Rica chapter of "Real Estate Investment, Development & Law in Emerging Markets”, PEI Media Ltd., 2010
  • Developed and delivered an eight-seminar series on the US real estate development process to attorneys and law students in San José, Costa Rica, 2009
  • Developed and delivered multiple internal law firm presentations on acquisition and disposition of real property, reciprocal easement agreements, real estate financing, real estate leasing, and condominiums
  • Co-authored manuscript and made presentations on conservation easement drafting and negotiation to the Mecklenburg County Bar Association (2003, 2009) and the NC Bar Association (2005)

Honors and awards

  • Woodward/White, Inc., The Best Lawyers in America, real estate, 2012-17
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, real estate, 2008-17
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
  • Counselors of Real Estate, National Chair’s Award, 2012


  • Duke University, JD, cum laude, 1998; Special Editor, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 1997-98
  • Johns Hopkins University, MS in Real Estate, 1996
  • Duke University, AB, cum laude, 1992