Kakinami back in private practice

LIHU’E — Former Deputy Prosecutor Aaron K.H. Kakinami is making the adjustment from fighting ice and other illegal drugs to estate planning, business-organization and divorce proceedings just fine.

Kakinami, 53, a lawyer for 25 years and a deputy county prosecutor for three years, has recently re-entered private law.

After taking about seven months off to regroup and do some things he always wanted to do, he’s back in action.

“It feels great. You are your own boss,” he said. “You benefit the consequences of a good decision, and suffer the consequences of a bad one. When it’s good, you get a great feeling,” he said.

He also does not have to say “no” to clients seeking his expertise. He said one of the tough things about being a prosecutor was that he had to tell clients he had known for 20 years that he could not help because of the understandable stipulation in his work for the county that he could not consult with outside clients.

Though Kakinami is switching gears, he is not switching his approach to doing the best he can for his client, whether it be for the state prosecuting a drug offender or for an individual seeking legal advise on estate planning.

Kakinami is a rarity in that he has a lot of experience as a litigator, but would prefer to be less adversarial in his new practice, though he acknowledged divorce cases tended to go that route.

“I don’t like to litigate, but I’ve done so much of it that after a while you develop an expertise for litigation. If a client is forced to litigate, we will.

“But before we do, we’ll leave no stones unturned, and we will prepare thoroughly. Ask anyone who knows me. I hate to lose.”

Kakinami opened his office in September, but was actually “in business a month earlier than expected. In August, a client drives up to my home, and needs something done ASAP. Did I do it? You bet,” he said.

Kakinami could have gone the criminal-defense route, but decided not to.

He said that, when he was a prosecutor under county Prosecuting Attorney Michael Soong, he didn’t have a high regard for those he was prosecuting on drug charges, and likely could not transform himself to defend them.

Kakinami said service is the key

“But what is service?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall,” he said.

“Listen to your client. Understand the situation, and then you understand why it’s important,” he said.

Kakinami and his wife Bonnie live in Koloa. The couple have two college-age sons.

Kakinami’s law office is located at 2976 Kress St., Suite 1 in Lihu’e. He may be reached at 246-2555.


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