Carlsmith Ball Chairman: Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court Nominee Katherine G. Leonard is Gifted, Highly Skilled, Well Balanced

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HONOLULU —Citing several media inquiries, Carlsmith Ball, the law firm where Governor Lingle’s recent Hawaii Supreme Court Justice nominee spent most of her legal career, today offered comment about Judge Katherine G. Leonard.

Karl Kobayashi, Chair of the Carlsmith Ball law firm, said, “I am very pleased to provide this information on behalf of and in whole-hearted support of the nomination of our former partner, Katherine G. Leonard, as Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.  Except for her Circuit Court and Hawaii Supreme Court clerkships with former Associate Justice Robert Klein and her tenure as an Associate Judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Kate has spent all of her legal career at Carlsmith, starting in August 1992 and becoming a partner in July 1997.


“Kate hails from humble roots. She is a product of the public schools in Wisconsin and is the daughter of a union factory worker at a printing press and a housewife-mother. Her family also ran, as a sole proprietorship from their house, a small carpet shop. Her sister works as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and her brother operates a towing and auto body shop.  She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

“While Kate worked at Carlsmith she was an extremely gifted and highly-skilled lawyer who specialized in litigation.  She has keen intellect and a curious mind. Because of her considerable legal skills, she has worked on some of the most prominent litigation cases handled by our firm.  She has a well-balanced perspective about the role of law in our society and its impact on our business, governmental and social affairs, and also the need to adhere to established precedents.

“Although Kate spent most of her legal career in the private sector, I believe she is an independent thinker who will approach each case on its merits and will render justice in a fair and impartial manner. She will not favor big business or private enterprise in her calculus of what is fair and just under the applicable laws; rather her experience will add to the diversity in our appellate courts. Kate will not pre-judge.

“Kate has also assisted with the management of our law firm. She served as a co-chair of our litigation practice group and as an elected member of the firm’s partner compensation committee, charged with making complex personnel decisions. These tasks have given her practical insight into leading and managing a private business enterprise, while the positions required teamwork and cooperation. While in law school, Kate was elected by her fellow law review members to serve as the editor-in-chief of the University of Hawaii Law Review.  We believe these elected positions demonstrate Kate’s ability to lead, and also to work well with others.

“On a personal level, I believe Kate to be of the highest integrity and ethical character.  She is not only passionate about the law but also about her family.  She is a loving mother who has balanced the difficult task of parenthood with a challenging and time-consuming professional career.  She speaks with great joy about her participation in Boy Scouts and other family activities.  Kate is a well-rounded lawyer and individual.

“To summarize, Kate is very bright, a hard worker, a person of high character and integrity, and someone who has excelled in the private practice of law.  Her willingness to make the financial and other sacrifices to join the public sector by serving on our Intermediate Court of Appeals is most commendable. Carlsmith’s loss was a most positive gain for the Judiciary and the State of Hawaii.  She will make a fine Chief Justice.”

Carlsmith Ball LLP is a leading law firm in the Pacific region with close to 100 lawyers in seven offices in Saipan, Guam, Honolulu, Maui, Kona, Hilo and Los Angeles. For more than 150 years, Carlsmith Ball has assisted clients in achieving their objectives through effective, result‐oriented representation in large commercial and financial transactions and in complex arbitration and litigation matters. For more information about the firm, please visit

Submitted by Aubrey Hawk