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Saturday, May 30, 2015
Why are there so many Crooked Lawyers in Honolulu?
By Selected News Articles @ 11:26 PM :: 6630 Views :: Judiciary

Here are some excerpts from "A Tale of Two Cities: Honolulu and San Francisco" published May 20, 2015 on the American Bar Association website by Nick Kaprowski of Alston Hunt:

Practicing in Hawaii ... I learned that among the top firms an attorney with 11 years of experience is still considered young....

Hawaii...does not host the office of a single Am Law 100 firm. Hawaii-based firms dominate the legal market, few of which have any lawyers practicing outside the state....

The median lawyer at the Hawaii firms has 11 years more experience—over twice as much—than the average in an Am Law 100 firm. Looking at the 25/75 range of experience, in the Big Law firms, only 25 percent of the attorneys graduated law school before 1997 (compared with Hawaii, where the most experienced 25 percent all graduated in 1981 or earlier)....

In seems like half the top lawyers attended the University of Hawaii....

I would say that in the business culture of Hawaii there is a far greater deference to age and an expectation that business leaders will be older than in most locations in the country....

...although there are lawyers who went to “elite” schools in the top Hawaii firms, they are mostly older lawyers. For example, 11 lawyers went to Harvard. All of them have been out of law school more than 10 years. Eight have been out of law school more than 20 years. Seven have been out of law school for more than 30 years. The same trends can be seen at other top national schools. Of our six University of California at Berkeley graduates, the youngest graduated in 1988. We have five Columbia graduates, and the youngest is class of 2000. We do have a class of 2011 graduate among our 13 Georgetown Law graduates. The other 12 all graduated in 1997 or earlier (with nine of the 13 graduating before 1987). Stanford has a similar story: one graduate from 2010, the other four before 1982. I won’t go into the details from San Francisco, other than to say that it is nothing like this.

There is a fairly simple answer as to why there are so few graduates of elite national law schools in Hawaii: they can make so much more by beginning their careers in a large market. Among the top 10–15 schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, over the last 20 years the large majority of them have been able to find a Big Law job, the recession years notwithstanding. A first-year associate at most Big Law firms usually has a starting salary of $160,000. By the seventh year, the standard scale for base salary rises to about $250,000, with average bonuses among the top firms providing an additional $100,000. Associates in Hawaii make a fraction of that. The “price of paradise,” as we say here, is pretty high, and not many Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Berkeley graduates have been willing to pay it recently.

read ... A Tale of Two Cities: Honolulu and San Francisco


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