Cades Schutte was ranked first by headcount by Pacific Business News (PBN) in its annual Top 50 Hawai‘i Law Firms List. As a supplement to the rankings, Cades Schutte LLP partner and Management Committee member Nathan T. Okubo commented to PBN regarding the growth and challenges expected for local law firms in 2024. Below is a snapshot of his commentary:
What legal practice areas do you believe have the greatest potential for growth in 2024, and why?
Our capabilities in real estate law have been bolstered by some recent changes and additions to the team: Two of our attorneys, Sachi E. Hiatt and Nathan C. Yang, were promoted to partner in January, and in 2023, we welcomed Mark K. Murakami and Keola R. Whittaker to our team. Mark is a distinguished real estate attorney with over 35 years of practice, has extensive experience with Land Court matters, and has advised on large-scale real estate transactions. Keola is based in Kahului, Maui, and has over 15 years of transactional and litigation experience practicing in Hawai‘i, California, and New York, including serving as deputy corporation counsel for the County of Maui. We are excited to add their expertise to our existing bench.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during 2023?
Last year was a good reminder for us that adaptability, connection, and resilience are key. We all know that Hawai‘i was still suffering the social, economic, health, and personal impacts of COVID-19 when the devastating Maui fires occurred. Amid the tragedy of those fires, it was gratifying to see not only the people of Hawai‘i, but friends from all over the nation and the world leaning in to help. We did our own small part by making donations, both as a firm and as individuals, and we donated hundreds of hours volunteering our time and our skills where we could. The kupukupu is often the first to sprout after a lava flow, and it self-propagates through its underground stems and runners. In these ways, the kupukupu models the best of us – resilient, adaptable, and connected to each other – traits essential for survival.
What is currently your firm’s biggest challenge?
Cades Schutte has long been considered one of Hawai‘i’s largest firms, but Covid changed society’s concept of the workplace, and this has made retaining our small firm, ‘ohana culture a challenge and even more vital. As we embark on our second century, our firm continues to grow, and we are actively working to meet this challenge. We enhanced our office spaces through recent renovations — a project spanning nearly two years, on all five of our floors in the Cades Schutte building. We repurposed our library space, which once housed the volumes of law treatises often seen in depictions of law firms, and it is now a large open space that we are envisioning as a hub for collaboration or social activities. We have been increasing our social activities, with events both inside and outside the office, volunteer activities, and an attorney retreat this spring. Being able to see each other face-to-face outside of a work setting has helped us reconnect after several years apart.