Partner / Honolulu
Joanne Lo Grimes
Joanne Grimes is a Partner in the firm’s Honolulu Office and is licensed to practice law in Hawaii and Guam. She has over two decades of experience in representing institutional businesses, nonprofit organizations, and private and charitable trusts in matters involving governance, employment & employee benefits, procurement, contracts, proprietary rights protection, fiduciary duties and trust administration. Ms. Grimes is actively involved in civic and community service, with past leadership roles as President of Hawaii Women Lawyers, President of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and Chair of Board of PBS Hawai'i.
Ms. Grimes has over two decades of experience in representing and advising trustees in connection with the administration of their trusts and the assets under their management, including legacy and inception assets. Ms. Grimes has worked on complex termination planning matters for large centuries-old Hawaii trusts distributing assets, pro rata and non-pro rata, to multi-generational beneficiaries. Ms. Grimes advises fiduciaries in the area of trust accounting (principal and income), trust administration, diversification and prudent investment, and fiduciary responsibilities. Ms. Grimes also represents parties in trust-related disputes over valuation and distribution of trust assets.
Ms. Grimes advises nonprofit organizations on structure, governance, and compliance issues applicable to exempt organizations, including investments under management. She served as primary legal counsel to the Hawaii Host Committee for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation held in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2011, and the National Host Committee for the IUCN World Conservation Congress held in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2016. For over a decade, she has represented a large charitable trust in its support of four charitable organizations serving health care, educational, and charitable purposes in the Kamuela area of the Big Island of Hawaii.
For over two decades, Ms. Grimes has served as primary outside counsel to a government retirement fund with more than 20,000 participants and retirees enrolled in defined benefit, defined contribution, deferred compensation, and welfare benefit plans. Ms. Grimes has advised in the areas of procurement of investment consultants, investment managers, actuaries, custodians, and third party administrators; and has represented the plans in administrative appeals and litigation by plan participants involving disability and retirement eligibility and benefits, domestic relations orders, and assists in the drafting of legislation, rules, and regulations affecting the plans.
Ms. Grimes advises employers on personnel and benefits matters, employment agreements, handbooks, workplace issues, equal employment opportunity issues, wage and hour compliance, confidentiality and non-competition agreements, work-for-hire arrangements, trade secret and trademark protection, and trade symbol registration.
In a prior career, Ms. Grimes worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith in New York City; for a Merrill Lynch – Sun Hung Kai (overseas securities) joint venture in Hong Kong; and then as Operations Manager for Merrill Lynch International (Asia) & Co. Ltd.’s Asia-Pacific Institutional Office in Hong Kong. During law school, Ms. Grimes externed as a student law clerk for the Administrative Judge for the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, whose calendar included motions and probate proceedings. After law school, Ms. Grimes worked as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Ronald T.Y. Moon, Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
- Named in The Best Lawyers in America 2023 Honolulu "Lawyer of the Year" for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law; and for Nonprofit/Charities Law
- Selected by attorney peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2023 for Administrative/Regulatory Law, Corporate Governance Law, Employee Benefits (ERISA) law, and Nonprofits/Charities Law; listed since 2010
- Pacific Business News 2019 Women Who Mean Business Honoree
- Ranked in Chambers USA, Hawaii: Labor & Employment since 2018
- Ranked in Chambers High Net Worth (HNW) “The World’s Leading High Net Worth Advisers" since 2018
- 2016 Outstanding Women Lawyer Award, Hawaii Women Lawyers
- Highest “AV” Professional Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
- HONOLULU Magazine’s 2016 Lawyer of the Year distinction for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
- Rhoda V. Lewis Award for Public Service
- Outstanding Law Student, National Association of Women Lawyers
- West Publishing Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
- Carl K. Mirikitani Scholarship Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
- American Jurisprudence Awards for Advanced Legal Writing and Constitutional Law II
- Access to Justice Commission HRPC Rule 6.1 Task Force
- CFP Board Emeritus®
- City & County of Honolulu Ethics Board of Appeals
- Daughters of Hawaii
- Guam Bar Association
- Hawaii Justice Foundation (former Secretary and Director)
- Hawaii State Bar Association
- Hawaii Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
- Hawaii Women Lawyers (former President and Director)
- Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (former President and Director)
- PBS Hawai'i (former Chair and Director)