Special Report: Leaders in construction and real estate law talk current demand, challenges and more

The article discusses how some law firms are faring during the pandemic.

Special Report: Leaders in construction and real estate law talk current demand, challenges and more

Pacific Business News spoke with several of the law offices that appeared on this week's List of Law firms, Real Estate and Construction.

How are things going?

Mark Murakami is the marketing chair. Damon Key, Leong Kupchak Hastert, are our litigation and transactional attorneys busy in the areas of real estate and construction. Three new associates have been hired in the past six months. We will be adding three more in October.

Terence O'Toole is litigation director at Starn O'Toole Marcus & Fisher. Business has been excellent for years. Hawaii's economy is resilient and strong despite the impact of Covid. Our firm's focus is primarily on litigation and transactional matters in the areas of hospitality, real-estate development, construction, money centers, and local financial institutions. We believe that with 25 lawyers we have reached a good balance in terms of efficiency and economics. Other than normal recruitment, we do not plan to expand. We are developing a new practice area in sea-level rising, which will have a major impact on land use, zoning, public and private land.

What are the current demands for real estate or construction law services?

Murakami: We have a lot of busy clients, including contractors, subcontractors, and developers. This keeps our contract writers occupied. Construction defect claims and contract disputes are also common.

Jonathan Chun is managing partner at Belles Graham. Demand for real-estate related work is on the rise, but many seasoned professionals are retiring.

What is the direction you think Hawaii's legal industry will take? What are the main trends?

Murakami says that Hawaii's legal profession is full of public-minded and dedicated attorneys. The Bar will adjust to the retirements of the Baby Boomer Generation, which will provide many opportunities for young attorneys to gain experience. They can also help Hawaii businesses and people with their legal issues.

O'Toole : The legal profession must remain strong. Based on our representation of major local and Mainland businesses doing business in Hawaii, we believe that Hawaii will remain a premier destination, both for those who wish to live and work remotely, or retire here.

Chun: Remote meetings and people working at home will be more common.

What is the biggest challenge facing your industry? What can your industry do to tackle this issue?

Murakami : Covid is primarily responsible for the backlog in civil cases at Hawaii state courts. The budget request for the judiciary is currently before the Legislature. If approved, it will provide the much-needed resources needed to deal with the backlog. To resolve disputes, patience, communication and negotiations will be needed.

O'Toole : The affordability of legal services is the biggest challenge for the legal industry. This is more of a consumer problem, and there's always a need to offer pro bono legal assistance to those who cannot otherwise afford it. We dedicate all our resources here.