Carlsmith Ball LLP

Honolulu Office

This content is provided by Carlsmith Ball LLP.

Chair: Jon T Yamamura

Managing Partners: Michelle C Imata and Laura S Lucas

Languages: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hawaiian, Japanese, Spanish

Firm Overview: 

Carlsmith Ball, a limited liability law partnership founded in 1857, is one of Hawaii’s oldest and largest multi-service firms and is renowned for its experience and skill in a wide variety of practice areas. It strives at all times to provide the highest quality legal work, client service and assistance in developing business relationships in industry sectors such as banking, governmental agencies, real estate, renewable energy, hospitality, retail, manufacturing and distribution, maritime and entertainment.

Main Areas of Practice:  


Carlsmith represents US and foreign business clients in their dealings with federal and state government agencies and regulatory bodies.

Admiralty & Maritime:  

The firm maintains a dominant admiralty and shipping practice throughout the Pacific, with an international client base spanning the shipping, maritime, transportation and marine insurance industries.

Banking & Finance:  

The firm provides counsel to national, state-chartered, local and foreign financial institutions (including credit unions) in all types of business, regulatory and litigation matters.

Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights: 

Carlsmith represents national, state-chartered and local financial institutions, in enforcing claims and recovering collateral, in workouts and/or restructurings of troubled loans and in all related tax aspects.

Corporate, Business, Finance & Project Finance:  

The firm represents profit and nonprofit, private and public, domestic and international clients in the formation, management and operations of their businesses and projects. Recently, the firm has been at the forefront of many complex, cutting-edge energy projects.

Environmental & Land Use:  

Carlsmith represents major landowners and developers, agribusiness, energy, banking and other clients, providing counsel and representation in an extensive array of environmental, land use and litigation matters.

Greater China Practice:  

Firm attorneys are experienced with local markets, cultures, languages and legal landscapes in Asia Pacific and the United States. The group offers a full range of services, including advice regarding inbound and outbound investments.

Government Affairs:  

Carlsmith’s government affairs team includes individuals who previously held some of the highest-ranking positions in federal, state and local government. The firm actively promotes clients’ interests in such areas as commercial and real estate development, agriculture, tourism, land use and renewable energy.

Indigenous Rights:  

The firm has represented parties in complex litigation involving Native Hawaiian issues and advises clients regarding administrative, development and environmental matters.

Intellectual Property:  

Carlsmith works with individuals and companies of all sizes to identify and protect their proprietary and intellectual property rights, representing clients in state, federal and foreign intellectual property matters. The firm handles trademark, service mark, trade symbol, copyright, trade secret, confidentiality and non-compete, work-for-hire, and licensing (including international licensing).

Labor & Employment:  

The firm provides proactive and preventive counsel to public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, business and government entities of all types and sizes and has successfully represented them before government agencies and defended them in litigation.

Litigation & Dispute Resolution:  

Carlsmith is well regarded and has noteworthy experience at trial as well as in all aspects of litigating, arbitrating, preventing and mediating business and other disputes. The firm represents private, public, municipal and state entities in myriad complex commercial and civil disputes in matters regarding trusts and estates, real estate, land use, environmental, financial, securities, product liability, business transactions, contracts, professional liability, maritime and admiralty, antitrust, trade, intellectual property and other areas of litigation.

Marshall Islands Practice: 

The firm is one of very few qualified to issue legal opinions on transactions relating to Marshall Islands non-resident companies and frequently advises on mergers and acquisitions relating to such companies. The firm also represents P&I Clubs and lenders in maritime claims involving ships flagged in the Marshall Islands, including cargo and personal injury claims, charter party disputes, limitation of liability actions, arrests, attachments and vessel mortgage foreclosures. The firm recently represented the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office (PNAO), an intergovernmental organization representing eight Pacific Island nations, including the Marshall Islands, that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery.

Private Client/Wealth Management:  

Carlsmith represents high-net-worth individuals, trustees, and beneficiaries on contentious and noncontentious aspects of asset management, including wills and probate, tax and trusts.

Real Estate, Land Use & Hospitality: 

The firm represents domestic and foreign clients in matters involving resort and hotel, commercial, retail, residential, governmental, agricultural and industrial projects. It assists clients in complex real estate matters, including acquisition, disposition, construction, development and financing (including project finance). The firm has substantial experience in areas such as land use, entitlement, zoning and planning; leasing and property management; environmental law; Hawaiian land claims; real property valuation and tax challenges; and permitting and licensing.

Renewable Energy & Clean Technology:  

Carlsmith provides counsel and guidance in all areas related to the structure, operation and finance of energy and clean technology projects, including for some of Hawaii’s most important renewable and alternative energy projects: wind, geothermal, solar, waste-to-energy, OTEC, hydroelectric, biofuel and wave energy.

Tax: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation:  

Carlsmith advises on the tax-efficient structuring of organizations and transactions, representing clients in tax controversies at all levels. The firm maintains the largest group of attorneys in Hawaii practicing in the highly specialized area of pension law, providing counsel on employee benefit and executive compensation matters for closely held organizations, public corporations, government entities, profit and nonprofit organizations. Carlsmith has extensive experience in advising clients in the creation, management and operation of charities and other tax-exempt organizations.


Bank of Hawaii; Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia; Borg-Warner Morse Tec; General Growth Properties; Government of Guam Retirement Fund; Green Energy Team LLC; Hawaii Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company; Hawaii Gas; Ho’Ohana Solar 1, LLC: Island Energy Services LLC; James Campbell Company LLC; Kalaeloa Partners, L.P.; Kaonoulu Ranch LLLP; Kapolei Property Development LLC; Kamehameha Schools; Kohanaiki Shores, LLC: Mahi Pono, LLC;  Makena Golf and Beach Club; Maui Electric Company; Maui Land and Pineapple; Na Pua Makani Power Partners, LLC: Parker Ranch Foundation Trust and Parker Ranch, Inc; Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA); Puna Geothermal Venture; Resorttrust, Inc.; The Queen’s Health Systems; Trustees of the Estate of Samuel Damon; Ulupono Initiative, LLC; and University of Hawaii.