James E.T. Koshiba recalls how helpful and inspiring it was for his law career when senior lawyers and judges would sit down to talk and share their experiences with him and other young lawyers.
“My experience was that so many of them were eager to help young lawyers like myself,” says Koshiba, founder and partner of the Honolulu law firm Koshiba & Price. “There were a lot of lawyers from different law firms who shared their experiences with me and I am forever grateful to them.”
That experience inspired Koshiba to help today’s young lawyers with a gift to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law to establish the James Koshiba Distinguished Lecturer Endowment to enable a member of the Hawaiʻi law community to teach a class each year.
Attorney Duane R. Fisher, president of the Honolulu law firm Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher, has practiced business law in Hawaii for the past 32 years. He has taught as an adjunct professor at the Law School for the past seven years, and has been named as the inaugural recipient of the James Koshiba Distinguished Lecturership.
“So much of law school is very theoretical,” he says. “When we have these kinds of programs, they’re very practical, very hands on, and students get an opportunity to experience what it’s like to have a real-world case.”
Fisher also believes much of law school is geared toward litigation-related subjects, but the courses he teaches focus on transactional law, including writing and negotiating contracts and doing business and real estate deals.
Koshiba received his bachelor’s degree from UH Mānoa, but that was before the Richardson School of Law opened in 1973 so he had to go to the mainland for law school. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Drake University in Iowa before going to Northwestern University for his LLM, or Master of Laws, degree, then came home to Honolulu to practice.
Koshiba also taught trial law at the law school for some 20 years as an adjunct lecturer.
“I enjoyed it, I enjoyed especially the relationships that were formed as a result of those classes,” he says, noting that he still gets together with his former students. “I felt the lectures are very important and critical for the success of the law school.”
Koshiba says the mentorship he received from such noted Hawaiʻi attorneys of the past, including Fred Schutte, Bill Fleming and Wally Fujiyama, really inspired him to give back. Also, Chief Justice William S. Richardson and U.S. District Court Hudge Martin Pence were not only teachers and mentors, but ultimately friends as well.
The lecturership was also inspired by former faculty members such as John Barkai and former Dean Larry Foster, he said.
“It’s to help the law school succeed in its mission of helping to educate people to become productive lawyers and citizens,” Koshiba says. “My motivation was really to assist the law school in any way that I can.”
That, in turn, helps Hawaiʻi’s law community as students receive their degrees and go to work in law firms, business, or government.
“James Koshiba, by this endowment, is really providing a very valuable tool so that we can teach students how to do business transactions that they would not otherwise learn in law school,” says Fisher. “It really allows us to do some hands-on instruction that I think is very beneficial to the students.
Dean Camille Nelson added that, “all of us at the law school are grateful for Mr. Koshiba’s generosity. We greatly appreciate his commitment to Richardson Law and are inspired by his ongoing desire to support and help our law students.”