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For readers, know that that this session in the Leadership Institute series was done by former lawyers (who are now executives) for the benefit of upcoming lawyers, but my hope sharing them is insight to the legal world and some the things said are just in general for leadership and management skills regardless of industry.

What this Session was All About

This leadership session happened over a month ago and was of great interest to me, as all of the panelists included attorneys who had gone over and obtained some sort executive position at a large local corporation. It was very interesting hearing how they made the transition from attorney to corporate executive. For the most part, many of them did NOT plan on it, and many of them thought they would practice law for the rest of their lives. I will be breaking up this write-up into two posts.  Today’s post will cover the morning discussion and the following one will be for the afternoon session.  The morning was a set of panelists that were moderated and the afternoon was a speed dating type of deal.

I will give a list of the panelists, then list the series of questions asked by the moderator, under each question I will select several quotes or paraphrased thoughts that I thought was interesting or poignant to share with you all.  The panelist that provided the quote or thought will be identified through their initials. Remember the underlying theme is leadership, but for this session it seemed directed at the path of experiences toward leadership.

The Panelists and Moderator

So here is the list of the morning panelists, their titles, and companies:

They were moderated by Melissa Pavlicek, President of Hawaii Public Policy Advocates.

The Questions and Quotes

How do you identify yourself? What is the first thing you say?

  • AO – “Once a lawyer, always a lawyer.”
  • CN – stated she is first a banker, but being a lawyer usually quickly follows
  • MR – introduces himself as the CAO
  • CM – hated being a lawyer for the first 10 years (laughter), but by the time he left practice he enjoyed it

How much of where you are today was planned?

  • FK – none of it was planned, it took an intervention from a friend to change her mind for her career path, and things never turn out the way you expect
  • MR – no planning, he was open to anything and his advice to everyone is to take advantage of opportunities, but be prepared when you do
  • AO – as a generation, the Vietnam War colored his, so planning for him was out of the equation – he feels that his generation did not have the luxury of life choices early on due to the war
  • CM – you don’t plan it so much as “create the opportunities for lightning to strike you”

In terms of skills, do you improve what you are given? Or do you try getting new skills?

  • MR – start with values, and you should be true to yourself; in general, some things you have to learn, but you should also focus on your natural talents; “know the landscape” and be ready to adapt – his personal example, was when he came here for the CAO job, he knew was a “guest” and went out of his way to understand an appreciated the local way of doing things

What skills are valuable?

  • [I can’t remember who said this, but here it is anyway]: legal analytical skills were critical beginning, but leadership skills become more important (due to responsibilities) ; thus as a lawyer we tend to micromanage, but as you transit into a leadership/management it is about empowering others to do the tasks
  • AO – since not every lawyer is a complete package, if you build a lawyer firm you try to complete the package and have complimenting attorneys – but you do want listeners, they understand what the client wants to get (objective-based); if you answer a client’s question with legal answers, many times it is not helpful

What about Outside Activities?

  • In general, all of them are active diverse people. I think the main thing to have gotten out of this part of the moderation was to find some clubs, non-profits, or associations and help out. It is good for networking and actually provides a different kind out outlet for your energies.

This is the last one, there is more, but I thought this question would be a good stopping point for this blog (lol): Are lawyers deal killers? How should lawyers handle saying “no” to clients?

  • AO – not a deal killer, but to new attorneys learn a little bit of litigation to figure out alternatives to trial
  • CN – they are more ready to say “no” early on to things, but risk is a part of business; in-house counsel understands the business better  and can help manage risk better
  • FK – as CEO, she aggress it is managing the risk of the company, so when you, as an attorney are being asked for answer, you have to determine what kind of answer is being asked for (i.e. is this it might be right 50% answer, this is mostly right 80%, or we spent all day and night researching this,100% answer); put another way, how much risk is embed in the question; an attorney’s job is to work with the client
  • MR – sometimes you do have to say NO due to risk identification, BUT the attorney then should direct the client with advice and help to reach a decision in light of that response

Anyway, I hope this was interesting I will be following this write-up hopefully within a week to reach the afternoon session panelists and interesting things I learned there. Finally, some great conversations took place during lunch that sparked off some interesting commentary, and I would like to bring that to you all and get your feedback and sentiments on the issue.

So check back soon!

Following up on the prior Leadership post, the We the People seminar’s afternoon panel was very interesting. Recall that we had Chief Justice (CJ) Recktenwald, Senator Sam Slom, and former Deputy Chief of Staff, Andrew Aoki with Kirk Caldwell moderating.
I have to admit being a political junkie that I found it interesting having Senator Sam Slom and Andrew Aoki there, as I did not know what to expect. I definitely think that Senator Slom presented the best case for civility (and humor) in government and of course why shouldn’t he? He has the honor of being the lone Republican in the Hawaii Senate, and on the national level is the only one in such a position.

The civility in government subject, with the panelists present, turned on what civility meant in the judiciary, politics/executive, and legislative branches. What follows are some of the quotes that I took with me from that afternoon and my thoughts.

Judiciary

“Lack of civility increases the cost of litigation.” From CJ, and I definitely think he is right because civility means that the modes of communication remain open, as soon as they break down the barriers go up, which we all know from a purely market system causes things to be more expensive.

He followed that quote with, “Lack of civility undermines, fundamentally, the judicial system.” The basic rationale is that citizens watch their attorneys behaving badly and if that is the case what does that say about the system as a whole?

Politics/Executive

Echoing CJ’s tone, Andrew Aoki agreed that in politics that the lack of civility creates a barrier to access politics. Basically, that it turns people off from participating in the process. I think especially here in Hawaii that is the case, we found in the Hanabusa-Djou race, as mainland money poured in, the tone of the message became nasty (by Hawaii standards) and a lot of people felt that did not have to be the case.

Finally, Andrew felt that it is “Easier to run on fear, then hope.” I think that his blanket statement sounds nice, but I found that it sometimes too easy to fall back on. I think with times being very tough it is always easy to want to give people hope, but the reality sometimes is some of the people’s fears are legitimate and credible. The problem is from a top-down perspective you have to weed out all the noise of what is fear-mongering and what needs be addressed. Once again it boils down to communication.

Andrew felt that there was more civility than not here in Hawaii. In fact, that someone managing here needs to deal with passive-aggressive nature tendencies and that you need to learn how to cooperate and be agreeable.

Legislative

Finally, Senator Sam Slom felt that civility is a part of your ethics. He felt that in recent times we have created all these educational programs on corporate, government, medical, etc . . . ethics, but really there is just ethics. It comes down to your core.

Finally, in the legislative arena, lack of civility leads to escalation and tension-building. It was definitely evident you have thread that balance of sticking to your opinion and focus on the issues, but do not burn bridges. He also emphasized respect the people you serve.

I will leave off with he said something that I think applies to anyone trying to deal with people and gain their trust and buy-in:

Do not over promise, but over deliver.

See you next time for the Write-Up on Corporate Hawaii!

This post is really overdue, as former Managing Director and Acting for the City and County of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell of Ashford and Wriston LLP, did put on a great panel for the Leadership Institute fellows. I just have been swamped with work (lots of people want to start their dream business!).
Anyway, I’ve got a five part series on the Leadership Institute, which this one will start off. This came about because the seminar I had with Corporate Hawaii, sparked off a really interesting discussion that I think I would like to continue, for at least my part, on my blog and in the social media community.

So this is what it will look like:

  1. Part I: Meet the People Write-up, Part I – Homelessness
  2. Part II Meet the People Write-up, Part II – Civility in Government
  3. Part III: Corporate Hawaii Write-Up
  4. Part IV: Corporate Hawaii – Where are the Leaders?
  5. Part V: Managing Diverse Networks Write-Up

As usual I will report on what was discussed at the Leadership Institute seminars and what insights or wisdom that the panelists imparted to the fellows. So with that in mind let’s get to “We the People” write-up.

We the People Write-Up – Homelessness

Kirk Caldwell broke the session into two panels for two different subject matters. The morning session was about leadership and Homelessness in the State, which of course as we got ready for APEC was of concern. He invited Mark Alexander (the State’s Homelessness coordinator), Representative Marcus Oshiro (Chair of the House Finance Committee), and Utu Langsi (Executive Director for H-5).

The afternoon session was about Civility in Government and consisted of panelists, Chief Justice Recktenwald, Senator Sam Slom, and Andrew Aoki former Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Abercrombie (at the time of this session he had not resigned). Part II will follow-up on this topic.

Homelessness

Kirk started off the conversation by discussing that a democratic government needs to have a balanced population and how this factors into the situation of the “haves” and “have-nots.”

Marcus, as an attorney, as he still volunteers with Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and gives pro bono hours, felt that prosecutors, as attorneys of the government occupy a unique role. He stated that a, “prosecutor’s job is to pursuit justice.” In that vein, they need to use their skill set to be a sort of politician that does social good for the body politic.

In the context of homelessness, that I agree that is partly true, as prosecutors need represent the government, which has a responsibility to both those with homes and without. However, I think once again leadership still depends on the person and how seriously they take the responsibilities that come with their job.

Father Mark Alexander definitely took the approach that leadership needs to take care of the least fortunate, which is probably why he took the position with Abercrombie administration. Here are some of the more interesting quotes he imparted:

  • “We have to a have vision where we want to go.”
  • “Leadership has to tell the story.”
  • “Homelessness is not about metrics, numbers, at the end of the day, but about the brothers and sisters in need.”

I really find that last one kind of poignant. However, I think Mark Alexander, despite the poignancy, displayed a remarkably pragmatic understanding that programs we develop for homelessness cannot be “too comfortable.” For example, some programs would express success in the terms of how much food was served. However, this begged the question is that success? Isn’t the goal to help protect people from falling through the cracks, BUT to help boost them back up so they do not remain homeless. So as a leader in this area you would have to provide help, but motivate people or give them the tools to move forward with their lives.

I think that we all know in leadership positions that if a person gets too comfortable sometimes they lack the motivation to take the next step. Pushing people isn’t a way to be mean, but insures that people develop to their full potential. However, out of all the three panelists I think that Utu Langsi had the most telling example of how leadership affects people on hard times. In his former life he was a criminal and was homeless. It was only through judicial grace and “luck” (I will return to the concept of luck when I get to “Managing Diverse Networks”) that he finds himself now helping other homeless people with his non-profit.

I think he definitely showed that part of the equation of helping people is you have to meet them half way sometimes. To lead does mean communicating and understanding them and offering them help, but the person wants to make a change. He definitely emphasized the need to break cyclic problems by helping and educating younger generations.

Budgeting Care

The panel rounded out with Marcus Oshiro, Chair of Finance, giving some insight into the thought process our legislators go through when dealing with budgetary process. Here are his questions:

  1. How far can we cut government programs and services?
  2. What programs and services are we willing to live without?
  3. Are we willing to pay more for the programs and services we want to keep?
  4. What doe we want Hawaii to look like when the recession ends?

This was against the backdrop of some figures he gave us. These are by no means accurate on my part, as I was rushing to take notes while interacting with the panelists. So take them with a grain of salt.  However, the state’s revenue is comprised of half from the GET tax, a third from personal income tax, and about 2% is derived from corporate, tobacco, and other specialty taxes. Meanwhile, health, human services, and education make up the majority of spending, with higher and education and public safety the next major components of the budget.

So it was a very informative in terms of perspective of those in government and public services when they approach the homelessness issue. Next time I will cover the remainder of “We the People” and take the insights on Civility in Government.

Here are few links if you want more information on homelessness in Hawaii:

I got a couple of responses of how interesting the Leadership Institute subject matter was last post, so I decided to impart some other interesting ideas and advice I have learned from my fellowship. So here goes.

I was born and raised on Oahu and it was only until college that I lived away for any significant portion of time away from “the Rock” as it is affectionately known.  However, growing up I quickly learned the odd ritual of asking the following three questions to people I would in Hawaii.  They are as follows, in order:

  1. What highschool did you go to?
  2. What year did you graduate?
  3. Do you know [insert name of person you know that might the person you are questioning]?

I never knew the subtleties of why I did it, but I knew it gave me some comfort and was always a good icebreaker for meeting new local people.  This even followed me as I updated my resume for after law school, as I intended to return home.  I remember the Career Services Office staff looked at me funny, and asked why would I put my highschool on my resume.  My only response is that it mattered when applying for jobs in Hawaii, and I kind of got the look of course it matters only in Hawaii because it is a odd state.  I left it that, and left my highschool on my resume.

Well, during one of the Leadership Institute seminars former Judge Thomas Kaulukukui Jr. explained to me why it is the case.  The basic gist of what I learned from Judge Kaulukukui is that you need to get to know people before you serve them as a leader.  How can you effect change if you have no idea about the people you are dealing with?  So it is in Hawaii, a pre-dominatly Pacific Islander/Asian culture, where we want to know who you are because it matters to us.

Now, this isn’t the “who you know” game where you spend time one-upping the other person.  No, it is the “who you know” as in what is your background (who are you and where do you come from).  Let me explain further using the ritualistic three highschool questions.

  • “What highschool did you go to?” represents the locality question, idenityfing where is the place that you come from and what was your environment.
  • “What year did you graduate?” represents the time component of what generation and what time did you come of age, as this shapes our identity and formation as an adult.
  • “Do you know [insert person that you know, that you think the other person may know]?” attempts to get to know your people, who is your group, who are your friends (your clan, so to speak).

Now, if this seems foreign to people of the continental United States it should be apparent to those who have European ancestry that in medieval times you identified your lineage.  Where do you think fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones came up with “I am so-and-so, son of XYZ.”?  Before, you think I bring out my dorky readings for no reason, be aware that our legal system evolved from medieval England.  They used have trial by combat, all that has happened is we replaced the suits of armor with suits and ties, and the swords with word-filled motions.

So where does this leave us?  Remember I said that some of the judges from the Meet the Bench write-up felt be true to yourself, well that applies here.  Your personal background gives context and history and makes you an individual, so when you do business in Hawaii we care who you are.  It may seem to make doing deals longer, but it does mean we are focused on relationship building, which means longer lasting partnerships.

Also if you read through all this and are still wondering where I went to highschool and what year did I graduate, well here is the answers:

  • I went to Punahou, and I graduated with the class of 1999.
  • I will leave the last question to you if you ever meet me to ask do I know “so-and-so.”

Hey everyone, today’s Law in the Brief will be short and simple, but I am connecting it to this Thursday’s Draw the Law so check back later. So do you remember that explosion out in Waikele that killed 5 workers?  Well, that is the kind of situation that might be fined under the Act we are discussing today depending on what investigators discover.  That is the type of situation that falls under Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law (HIOSH), which means the company could face severe penalties for violations.

What: Act 123 of this year’s state legislative session has increased the fines under Chapter 396 (HIOSH) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.  Basically, this is the state of Hawaii’s version of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). HIOSH is administered by the Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR). So this week’s Draw the Law will discuss OSHA and HIOSH together.

Specifics:  The law makes a 10% increase across the fines found under HRS §396-10.  Here are the specifics of the penalties for an employer or other concerned parties:

  1. if cited for a serious violation, and non-serious one as well – $7,700;
  2. if cited for violating the posting requirements – $7,700;
  3. for willful or repeated violations of 396 – $5,500 – 77,000 for each violation;
  4. if convicted for willful or repeated violations that results in an employee death it is $77,000 for the violation and a possible imprisonment term;
  5. if you discharge or discriminate against employee for asserting rights under 396 it is a $1,100 per violation;
  6. if someone without authority from DLIR Directors gives advanced warning of a surprise inspection it is $1,100 and possible imprisonment;
  7. for falsifying records, certification and documentation it is $11,000 and/or possible imprisonment;
  8. for criminal offenses against employees of the State doing their job it is $55,000 added to the maximum fine for a class A felony and ten years added to the term;
  9. for Class B felonies it is $27,500 added and a five years;
  10. for Class C felonies it is $11,000 added and three years; and
  11. for misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors it is $2,200 added and 1 year added to the term.

Last Word:  So in this economic downturn can you face increase 10% penalties?  That could be up to an extra $700 for a serious violation.  Are you ready to afford extra penalties and possible imprisonment? If you are trying to comply with safe and health standards contact an attorney or a safety specialist to help you point out problems in your business to avoid violating HIOSH.  In addition, return to this Blawg Thursday to check out Draw the Law.

If you like this post or any of my other series please “Subscribe” to this blawg to receive e-mail updates.  In addition, follow me on Twitter and “Like” me on Facebook.  If you need to contact me directly, please e-mail me at Ryankhew@hawaiiesquire.com.

*Disclaimer:  This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.

 

 

As some of you know I was fortunate to be a fellow for this year’s Hawaii State Bar Association’s Leadership Institute.  We have monthly meetings with various attorneys and leaders throughout the State of Hawaii to discuss leadership attributes.

I’ve always been curious about leadership skills, and that was part of the reason I obtained an MBA to take classes on leadership and management.  Anyway, yesterday was the “Meet the Bench” focus study where the fellows were introduced to the following judges and attorney:

  1. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway
  2. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren
  3. Bankruptcy Attorney Susan Tius
  4. Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald
  5. Justice James Duffy
  6. Justice Sabrina Mckenna
  7. Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge Alexa Fujise
  8. Judge Steven Alm
  9. Judge Bert Ayabe
  10. Judge Virigina Lea Crandall

And our facilitator of the day was retired Judge Riki Amano.

I’ll have to be honest, I was skeptical at first of how much I would get out of this session due to the fact that I am transactional and compliance attorney that focuses on small business.  However, it was a fascinating day of meeting with the judges and getting their personal view of what makes a good attorney and leader.  In addition, it was interesting how they all kept touching on some of the same themes and ideas, despite largely differing backgrounds. I was able to distill some themes and guidelines, which I think as a person, attorney, and businessman that I will strive to follow.

Anyway, as I believe in sharing information and insight through social media I am going to highlight some of the nuggets of wisdom passed on by these learned jurists.

In no particular order or from a single judge here is what I got out of it:

  1. be prepared – sounds cliché, but it is really true and for judges they can tell who isn’t prepared;
  2. don’t lie or play hide the ball/be credible – most of the judges find that if for whatever you aren’t prepared you should be honest about it, as they hate it when an attorney lies or misdirects – it hurts your credibility in the long run;
  3. have perspective/be respectful – one of the judges wanted us to understand that “your emergency is not my emergency” – being rude, demanding, and such is not going to change the fact that other people have their things that they have to do;
  4. be true to yourself – this goes back to the credibility thing and many felt it shows your character and lets people know what you are going to do;
  5. meet with everyone – in a management situation, you should at  least make an effort to meet all the people you are managing, it helps for you to create buy-in, anticipate issues, and shed light on problems;
  6. do things that interest you – you never know where you will wind-up, and therefore, try for jobs, opportunities, and such that come your way;

(The next three are for trial attorneys, as you all always tell me great stories, so I took notes for you all!)

  1. always object and make the record – one of the judges suggested it is better to get something into the record that waive or withdraw because then it doesn’t show up; they want to see the argument and have it play out;
  2. don’t argue the whole motion – the judges all agreed they have read the brief, focus on 4-5 main points and persuade them;
  3. making persuasive arguments: (1) what does the judge NEED to know; and (2) what is the most reasonable course – give the judge a reason to side with;

(This last one is for everyone.)

  1. listen – I run into a lot of situations where someone can hear me (as I tend to speak really loudly), but they lack the comprehension part because they weren’t listening – a leader can only respond to people if they truly get what is being asked of them

Anyway, I would like give a big mahalo to the judges for allowing us to speak with them and take away from their valuable time for their stories, insights, and advice.  In addition, thanks to Judge Amano for setting this up as it was a lot of fun.  Also if all you readers are interested I will tweet or blog about the Leadership Institute, send me an e-mail and let me know!

Have an aloha Friday and good weekend!

Civil Beat is reporting that Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway is allowing them to live-blog during the Aloun Farms trial, which starts Wednesday.  In the Aloun Farms case the prosecution accuses the owners of the Farms of keeping numerous Thai immigrants as indentured servants.  The case is one of two major human-trafficking cases this year in Hawaii.
Judge Mollway stated that this is not a change in court policy and only applies to this case.  However, if Civil Beat lives up to its name and reputation (for investigative and good journalistic practices) it may lead a step toward live-blogging and other social media use in the courtroom by convincing other judges that this is a good thing for justice.  More exposure plus utilizing a form of communication that has been widely adopted for business and social purposes puts the spotlight on the justice system, which needs to correct the information gap that exists in society.

I will temper my foregoing enthusiasm with the following comment:  information technology is a good thing to share information with society as a whole, the justice system should not be driven to open the floodgates and allow all manner of social media to be used in court.  For example, allowing jurors to Tweet and Facebook post is still a very bad thing.   However, transparency and informative acts via social media that maintain and that do not dilute the fairness of trial should always be welcomed.

So way to go Civil Beat and great decision Judge Mollway.

For Civil Beat’s article and their letter requesting social media access click here.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Hawaii Business Magazine’s SmallBiz Lunch and Learn: Leveraging Technology and Social Media to Grow Your Business.

It was a great event and I was able to learn some great advice and thought of some good ideas.  The experts that had on had were as follows: 1) Roxanne Darling of Bare Feet Studios and the Founder of Social Media Club; 2) Cyrus Driver, VP of Oceanic Time Warner Cable Business Class; and 3) Bernard Uy Co-Founder of Wall-to-Wall Studios.

This is NOT a Social Media and the Law post.  It is a post on some of the nuggets of practical wisdom that I gathered from the lunch and would like to share.  I also feel this gives you some of that business perspective I was mention in my posts as a JD who has his MBA.

They are the following, in no particular order of priority:

  • Thanks to social media EVERY business is a technology business, you will use it some aspect;
  • always thanks to social media your customers OWN your brand – they have become self-publishers;
  • because of the prior two points, LISTEN to your customers;
  • in fact, use them as informal discussion and research group on new marketing plans;
  • ask your customers who they think your competitors are for defining your brand;
  • if you get a negative review on Yelp or the like, it’s good thing – gives you an opportunity to show how you respond and change;
  • use video, there are some great apps on smartphones that you can upload to your Youtube account;
  • be more personal, less cookie-cutter in your usage of social media;
  • if you cannot compete on price, location, and the like – compete on YOU, make sure your customer/clients like working with you;
  • always update and double–check your links, dead links help no one.

As a solopreneur I don’t know if I will get to make use of all these ideas, but I definitely think that any business, great or small should definitely think about these things and it offers a great starting point.

See you on Monday or Tuesday next week when I continue discussing evidentiary matters in the context of Social Media.

Have an awesome weekend!

-RKH

*The Social Media and the Law Post for today will come out tomorrow.  Instead, enjoy a special post about Hawaii Access to Justice.
** 6/28/11 – CORRECTION – When I first made this post, I mistakenly made it seem that it was the Mediation Center of the Pacific (located on Oahu) handled all cases in the statistics section.  This is NOT the case.  In actuality it was the Mediation Centers of Hawaii (MCH), which includes all community mediation centers across the State, not just the Mediation Center of the Pacific.  The text has been edited to show this change.  – RKH

I was fortunate this past Friday (6/24/11) afternoon to have time to attend the 2011 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference, hosted at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law.  It was a very interesting and informative Conference filled with a lot of great participation from big law firms to non-lawyers who care about access to justice.

Mediation

I was able to go to the Mediation Effectiveness: When to Use and How to Make it Work workshop facilitated by Tracey Wiltgen, Executive Director of The Mediation Center of the Pacific.  Tracey was able to highlight the serious need of Hawaii to turn to mediation, especially for those in a lower income situation.  With the costs of going to court high, the cutbacks to the Judiciary’s funding, and other governmental services reduced a lot of societal problems have increased.

Here are some interesting Hawaii statistics on mediation, which relate to the Mediation Centers of Hawaii (MCH), which includes all mediation community centers statewide :

  • During the fiscal year of 2009-2010 the MCH served a total of 3,677 cases.
  • During the first three quarters of fiscal year 2010-2011 the MCH served 3,326 cases.
  • Of the FY10-11 cases, 77% of them were court related and they included:
    • 156 Domestic (divorce and paternity)
    • 207 landlord/tenant
    • 182 consumer/merchant
    • 80 Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

Among the subject matter of the cases, the rate at which the parties were able to reach written agreement varied, but in general it was between 45% to 64%. These are very good statistics considering many of these are contentious situations.

For the public, you should ask about mediation.  It is a very good alternative to start with rather than going to court immediately.  Consider that it is less formal, costly, and time-consuming.  The focus of mediation is to facilitate communication and work out an agreeable situation between the two parties, which is sometimes lost in court battles.  It is confidential and you still have the option of walking out on the mediation and going to court.  However, with fees being so high isn’t it worth the close to 50-50 chance that you could workout something you agree with?

For attorneys, I think this is a prime opportunity for many of us to look for new skills and the way we approach situations.  Indeed, we should always have trial attorneys, but that should not be the only image that the public conjures when you say the word “lawyer.”  It is true that non-lawyers look to us for answers and help with their legal problems and mediation is certainly one extra tool to help fulfill that task.

Elder Law

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to my fellow solo practitioner and 2011 Leadership Institute member, Scott Suzuki.  I was able to go to his workshop on Access to Justice for the Elderly and I was shocked to find out that Hawaii did not have elder abuse laws or caregiver neglect.  At best you would have to cobble together different parts of the law to establish a claim.  In addition, the state has no filial responsibility law, which establishes the duty for adult children to care for their indigent elderly parents.

Now, I most people would already have the inclination of, “this Hawaii, we already do that in our culture,” which I agree wholeheartedly.  Having a strong culture that cares about family and friends is what makes Hawaii an awesome place.  However, we should have the laws to back it up.

Lastly, with you many attorneys separate health care planning out from estate planning.  You should consider an attorney that can handle both because consider as you are aging, money does become an issue as does your health, to think that the two are unrelated, and that once you die the medical bills and estate will be resolved by the people you leave behind is disjointed.  I fully agreed you should seek out an estate planner that has empathy for caring for an aging parent and sets up and estate plan that works for not just the parent, but all takes into account the reality of family dynamics.

—-

For more information:

See the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission

I would just like to inform my readers that this blawg post will be delayed till later tonight, as I have been busy working on some other projects.  However, it will definitely be up today (6/21/11) and will discuss more from the employee’s perspective about their social media usage at work.

Access to Justice Means Giving People the Tools to Get There

In the mean time, here is some food for thought.  Lately, I have been trying to get more involved with access to justice here in Hawaii.  If you read my Civil Beat article, then you know I supported the passage of the increase to ILAF to fund organizations that do good work in terms of making justice accessible for the community.

However, as I stated I believe that there is an information gap as we continue to expand our laws and create a civil society.  Those who do not have access typically are also behind the curve when it comes to technology use because let’s face it, obtaining computers and smartphones may be relatively inexpensive for professionals, but not for others.   The Governor of Hawaii has made a drive to adopt and upgrade our technologies, and I support him in this endeavor.

In my humble opinion, I would like to see as his term continues on a stronger an investment in tools and infrastructure.  Namely,  I really think that we need to get cheap laptops and computers into our impoverished communities, and set-up free wifi spots throughout the State.  Why?  I don’t believe you get to access justice if you do not even know what is going on or where to look.  With infrastructure in place, kids are pretty smart once you give them some educational training, they can then begin seeking out all the knowledge that the web has to offer (i.e. like the information on this blawg).

Communication devices and the infrastructure to support them will bring greater access to justice because the population will be more knowledgeable and have skills needed to survive in this age of digital information.  Simple searches on an easy to use laptop through a public wifi network will bring them one step closer to getting answers or at least asking the right questions, which as many attorneys know all apart of the law.  Just my thoughts on social justice and public expenditures.

Anyway, see you later with my Social Media and the Law post!