Faculty & Staff




Lecturer in Law


BA, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, 1982
JD, William S. Richardson School of Law, 1985


Ronette M. Kawakami was the Associate Dean of Student Services.  She is a 1985 graduate of the WSRSL, former law clerk to the Honorable Marie N. Mills (ret.) and joined the Law School Administration in 2013 after serving 26 years with the State Office of the Public Defender.  As a Senior Deputy Public Defender, she completed approximately 100 felony jury trials in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit and she appeared in 6 oral arguments before the Hawai’i Supreme Court.  Her administrative experience included supervising the Appellate Division and the Felony Trials Division of the Public Defender’s Office.  Her duties included supervision of 35 trial attorneys and overseeing writing, researching and the preparation of oral argument.  She also served as a legislative liaison between 1997 and 2004, responsible for writing testimony and appearing before the Senate and House Judiciary committees and other legislative committees on issues relevant to criminal defense and the criminal justice system.

As a Lecturer in Law, Ronette co-taught the law School’s Defense Clinic from 2000-2012 and was recognized as Adjunct Professor of the Year in 2003 and 2010.  She also served as Director and Secretary of the Hawai’i State Bar Association (HSBA) from 2000-2013, serving on various committees related to the practice of law in Hawai’i, including the American Judicature Society (AJS) Hawaii Chapter, Special Committee on the Jury.  She was recently a member of the Hawai’i Supreme Court Committee on Equality and Access to the Courts and a frequent speaker and trainer in the schools and for lawyers and others involved in the judicial system.  While doing all of this, she has raised three children, been an active alumna of the Law School, and is a 20-year Ete Bowl veteran.

Ronette is a 1977 graduate of Leilehua high school, and she earned a B.A in English at the UH in 1982, where she served on the Board of Publications.  She also picked pineapple for Del Monte and assisted the lead English teacher in a program for underprivileged students entering UH.  Beyond her work as a Deputy Public Defender, Ronette has volunteered for varied roles within the legal community and has been invited to speak and provide training for many public and private organizations.  Outside the legal community, she volunteers at St. Elizabeth’s Saturday morning breakfast for the houseless and has coached both KAC and girls intermediate basketball team at La Pietra.

Related News

Dean Kawakami: How to Make a No-Sew Mask

portrait photo




By appointment.