Faculty & Staff




LLM, Columbia Law School, 2023
JD, William S. Richardson School of Law, 1987


After more than three decades in private practice in Hawaii and California at Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert where he practiced appellate, takings, eminent domain, election, and land use law, in 2021 Robert joined Pacific Legal Foundation—a nationwide nonprofit law firm dedicated to liberty and property rights, as a Senior Attorney. He directs PLF’s Property Rights practice, which focuses on  Supreme Court litigation and shaping the law. 

In addition to his law practice, Robert serves as the Joseph T. Waldo Visiting Chair of Property Rights Law at the William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he teaches upper-division property courses such as Land Use, and Eminent Domain and Property Rights. He also remains Director Emeritus at Damon Key. 

An elected member of the American Law Institute, Robert received his LLM, with honors, from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his JD from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law (1987), where he served as editor of the Law Review.

He recently completed a year as the Chair of the American Bar Association Section of State & Local Government Law and was the long- time chair of the section’s Eminent Domain Law Committee. Robert also has served as editor-in-chief of the section’s scholarly legal journal on municipal and land use law issues, The Urban Lawyer. He is also the co-planning chair of the American Law Institute-CLE’s long-standing three-day national conference on property and condemnation law, Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation. 

He is a frequent speaker on property rights, takings, land use, and eminent domain issues nationwide. Robert also regularly publishes scholarly and practical articles in his area of practice, including most recently, Hoist the Yellow Flag and Spam® Up: The Separation of Powers Limitation on Hawaii’s Emergency Authority, 43 U. Haw. L. Rev. 71 (2020), and Evaluating Emergency Takings: Flattening the Economic Curve, 29 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 1145 (2021). 

Many of Robert’s most rewarding cases have been in furtherance of the cause of individual rights and freedoms. As counsel for the property owners in County of Hawaii v. C & J Coupe Family Ltd. P’ship, 119 Haw. 352, 198 P.3d 615 (2008), Robert helped establish the rule that courts are not mere “rubber stamps” when a local government is taking property by eminent domain. Another case, Hamilton ex rel. Lethem v. Lethem, 126 Haw. 294, 270 P.3d 1024 (2012), held that a parent’s liberty interest in raising and disciplining his child included a right to fair procedures, including notice and a judicial hearing before the family court could restrict parent-child contact. In another case requiring fair procedures, Kellberg v. Yuen, 131 Haw. 513, 319 P.3d 432 (2014), Robert represented the property owner who successfully challenged an agency’s deliberate failure to inform citizens when the agency had reached an appealable decision, thus depriving them of judicial review. 

When he’s not working, you might find him writing and publishing his blog on land use, property, and takings law, inversecondemnation.com, one of the most widely read blogs on those subjects.

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