Portnoy Jeff

Jeffrey S. Portnoy


Jeff is a partner practicing in the area of litigation. He previously served as Chair of the firm's Litigation Department, and has practiced law as a civil litigator at the firm since 1972.


Jeff is a partner practicing in the area of litigation. He previously served as Chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, and has practiced law as a civil litigator at the firm since 1972.

Jeff has 50 years of extensive litigation and alternative dispute resolution experience in several areas of substantive law, including insurance, employment, mass tort, product liability, media, securities, and medical and legal professional errors and omissions.

Jeff currently serves as Treasurer for the Ninth Circuit Historical Society. He was President of the Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA) in 2007. He is also a past President of the Hawai‘i Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and he served two three year terms as a Hawai‘i lawyer representative to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was recently elected to serve as a HSBA representation to the State Judicial Selection Commission.

He was Chairman of the United States District Court Advisory (Biden) Committee. He also served as a Hawai‘i State Per Diem Judge and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Hawai‘i. He is President of the Hawai‘i ABOTA chapter. Jeff has also served as the Hawai‘i State Representative to the Defense Research Institute as well as the HSBA’s representative to the ABA’s House of Delegates. He also served a five year term on the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents.

He has been named Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year for Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants (2016), Bet-the-Company Litigation (2013), and Insurance Law (2011). He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America in several practice areas, including Commercial Litigation, Litigation – First Amendment, Insurance Law, Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, Litigation – Labor and Employment, and Bet-the-Company Litigation for over 25 years. Jeff is listed in Who’s Who in America, and has been the recipient of several local and national awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award, and the Exceptional Performance Award from the Defense Research Institute. Among other state and national recognitions, he has been selected several times as one of the leading litigators in Hawai‘i by Chambers & Partners USA and several other publications. In 2016, he was recognized as the top Civil Litigation Lawyer by Hawai‘i Super Lawyers List.

In his spare time, he served as President of Manoa Valley Theatre’s Board of Directors for 25 years and was the color analyst for University of Hawai‘i basketball for almost three decades. Jeff has served as a visiting Professor of Law at the Debrecen School of Law, Debrecen, Hungary, in Tartu, Estonia, and in Warsaw, Poland. He also served on the Board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Hawai‘i Chapter of the American Cancer Society.


  • Listed in Chambers & Partners, USA Guide, since 2003
  • Listed in Best Lawyers® for over 25 years, since 1993
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Litigation – First Amendment
    • Insurance Law
    • Legal Malpractice Law- Defendants
    • Personal Injury Litigation- Defendants
    • Litigation – Labor and Employment
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated, since 1984
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Rating Judicial Edition, for four decades
  • Who’s Who in America
  • Who’s Who Legal: USA, Commercial Litigation since 2006
  • Who’s Who Legal: Management Labour & Employment, 2021
  • Benchmark Litigation: Local Litigation Star, since 2013
  • American Society of Legal Advocates – Top 100 Litigation Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year for 2016 – Legal Malpractice Law-Defendants
  • Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year for 2013 – Bet-The-Company Litigation
  • Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year for 2011 – Insurance Law
  • Selected by Mayor Peter Carlisle to serve on City & County of Honolulu Ethics Commission
  • Selected by Governor Neil Abercrombie (2011-2017) to serve on Judicial Selection Commission
  • Listed in Super Lawyers® since 2008
  • State Leadership Award, Defense Research Institute, 1999
    Society of Professional Journalists, First Amendment Award, 1995
  • Exceptional Performance Award, Defense Research Institute, 1991 and 1993
  • Elected to Membership, International Association of Defense Counsel, 1991
  • Freedom of the Press Award, Society of Professional
  • Journalists Hawai‘i Chapter, 1983


  • J.D. (1972), Duke University School of Law
  • B.A. (1969), Syracuse University

  • “Are There Limits on Free Speech?” What’s the Law KHON2 Podcast (August 8, 2022) (Interviewee)
  • Column: Legislature Should Let Public See Police Misconduct Records,” Honolulu Star Advertiser (June 15, 2020) (Co-Author)
  • The Most Interesting Man in Honolulu,” Midweek (February 24, 2015) (Featured in Cover Story)
  • “To Attack or Not to Attack,” Communications Lawyer, The Journal of Media, Information, and Communications Law, Vol. 26, No. 3, 23-24 (July 2009) (Author)
  • “Mass Communication Law in Hawaii,” New Forums Press, Inc. (1994) (Co-Author)
  • “Hawai‘i Chapter,” Libel Defense Resource Center 50 State Survey, Media Privacy and Related Law (1982 – present)
  • “Manual on Access to Government – Hawai‘i Chapter,” Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • The Lum Court and the First Amendment,Western Newspaper Publishing Co., University of Hawai‘i Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, 393-420
  • Speaker, teacher, and author at numerous programs and seminars on media law, employment law, personal injury law, trial tactics, and commercial litigation.

  • “You’ve Been Sued! Keep Calm and Follow These Tips,” 20th Annual Labor & Employment Law Advanced Practices Symposium (March 2024) (Panelist with Charles High)