The Two Sides of Koji Fukumura

The Two Sides of Koji Fukumura

“i used to be getting my butt kicked.” that’s koji fukumura speakme approximately his first deposition. It became 1994, he was sparkling out of temple law college, and he became dealing with a trio of attorneys from prestigious companies in ny, washington and philadelphia in a big rico case. One of these lawyers, who had a background with the securities and exchange commission, saved interrupting him with “speakme objections,” wherein he basically furnished the answer he wanted his patron to offer. “this went on all day,” fukumura says. “i knew something changed into incorrect, and kept objecting, however it was painful and embarrassing.” that pain become matched by way of the ache in his returned, which he had strained after lugging a trio of banker bins from the teach terminal to the deposition room. The following day began the identical way. The identical attorney started with another speaking objection, and fukumura waited thru the oratory earlier than flippantly asking, “are you achieved?” then he pulled out a judicial opinion, hall v. Clifton precision, about the conduct of depositions that decried such speakme objections, which he’d remembered analyzing about and had pulled up the previous night on the computer within the commercial enterprise middle of his motel. Magic bullet? No. The other attorney’s horrific conduct stopped most effective whilst fukumura picked up the phone and commenced dialing the magistrate decide. In the end, the case settled to the benefit of fukumura’s customer. Fukumura, now a associate at cooley llp, who has defended approximately forty m&a category actions and in excess of 50 securities elegance movements and derivative suits, generally speaks of his adversaries with super recognize, and this example is not any different. “i was in awe of those humans. My combatants are brilliant attorneys and that they’re also remarkable instructors—i think about myself as a sponge that takes absolutely everyone in and uses what works. It changed into such exquisite education to get my butt kicked but then to even have a plan to prevent this disaster from happening.” the story demonstrates a lot approximately fukumura. “he’s a very good balance between a laid-lower back hawaiian and a avenue fighter from philadelphia,” says brian robbins, co-founder and the handling partner of robbins arroyo, who has faced off against fukumura in complicated security litigation instances. “and he constantly indicates properly judgment on how to balance those aspects.” he was born in japan, raised in hawaii, and describes himself as an “oahu boy at heart,” who, for huge swaths of his existence, surfed five days per week. Simply as the sport is the closing exercising in balance, the hawaiian subculture turned into countered by means of fukumura’s extreme father, a japanese-born medical doctor. “my father become a remarkable achiever who made me spend as a minimum at some point each weekend doing chores at domestic,” fukumura says. “he changed into pushing me. … and he was inspiring to me.” from an early age, fukumura appeared destined to observe in his father’s footsteps. He earned a degree in molecular, cell and developmental biology from the university of colorado boulder in 1989, then spent a yr as a clinical researcher. It wasn’t supposed to be. “at the moment, there was something bordering hysteria approximately managed care,” fukumura recalls. “nearly everyone i talked to became terrible approximately what this transition might imply to medical doctors—that they’d must paintings two times as long at the same time as presenting less care. … i additionally got here to the opinion that my feisty nature was better desirable to being an ordeal attorney.” after law school, fukumura become hired by way of bochetto & lentz, a small philadelphia regulation company that dealt with both crook and civil instances, which lured him in part by telling him he’d take 30 depositions in his first 12 months. He handed that range. He become given dui instances, irritated attacks and an tried homicide, but basically he did industrial paintings, inclusive of massive sec enforcement movement and rico cases. “that’s what simply shaped the inspiration of my [current] exercise,” he says. On the face of it, fukumura’s first big securities case, the one with the speaking objections, turned into a loser. The financial institution charged that his client had borrowed 1/2 1,000,000 dollars and by no means paid it lower back. “there aren’t many defenses to that,” he says, however he remained undaunted and taught himself federal securities regulation. After hours, he study the securities alternate act of 1934 starting to end; and it become there that he came across a section that made an exciting factor: any contract whose motive is to violate federal securities law is voidable. Since it became alleged that fukumura’s customer was the usage of the cash the bank loaned him to make unlawful trades, fukumura filed a motion contending the financial institution knew it was lending money that might allegedly violate federal securities regulation; and this, he argued, voided the contract. It changed into an unique defense. “there wasn’t a unmarried case determined in any courtroom speakme approximately this statute in this manner,” he says. And it labored. When the choose denied the bank’s request for summary judgment, the financial institution agreed to accept less than the loan precept, as well as to waive the widespread hobby that turned into due—a clean victory for his customer. This enjoy helped forge components of the simple foundation fukumura operates under as a attorney, and which he constantly preaches to young friends. First, every attorney is responsible for his or her very own development. “maximum lawyers get a case and studies all of the related instances, looking on the hassle as a self-contained world,” he says. “i tell young legal professionals if i hand them a case: they could take that technique, or they are able to study that [larger] place of regulation on their personal—gaining a larger knowledge of safety or corporate governance to get the large photo.” and this leads to fukumura’s 2nd core principle: “you may’t just appearance where anybody else is asking,” he says. “you want to assume out of doors the field, and to do that you need to be rounded on your understanding.” as co-chair of the securities litigation practice group at cooley, which he joined in 2002, fukumura has helped construct the branch into one of the strongest in the united states. In line with display suite, cooley is considered one of two firms most customarily retained via companies in securities litigation over the past years. His existence is a whirlwind of plane flights across the u . S .. In a single case, fukumura is representing peregrine prescribed drugs, which is developing therapeutics to stimulate the body’s immune machine to fight most cancers, towards a shareholder fit. “he turned into constantly in control of the situation,” says mark ziebell, fashionable counsel for peregrine. “i don’t want to be guessing what’s going on or constantly having to check with my attorney to recognize what’s occurring, due to the fact i've a board of administrators trying to me to tell them what’s happening.” that brings up some other of fukumura’s middle principles: there are no small topics. One among his cases underlines that concept inside the terrible. Fukumura represented a business enterprise towards a former government who, upon leaving, hadn’t exercised his stock options in the proscribed duration. He stated he had relied upon recommendation from a business enterprise consultant that he purported to be incorrect. Fukumura filed a sturdy movement for summary judgment, however the choose denied the movement due to a apparently insignificant errors: a rule on the time required the separate declaration to be underlined, and it was now not. “it wasn’t truthful, however it’s like a boxing match,” fukumura says. “in case you don’t knock someone out and go away it to the judges, unfair choices manifest all of the time.” fukumura, who will chair the litigation phase of the american bar affiliation starting in august 2017, recollects a case he handled early in his career. It concerned three docs dissolving their scientific exercise. The arbitration went on for months, to a few days according to week. “in a deposition if so, while there was approximately 10 attorneys in the room, a lot of whom were bickering, a lawyer i didn’t recognise walked into the room and anybody sat up immediately and behaved,” fukumura says. “i questioned: what kind of man or woman do you have to be to stroll right into a room and other attorneys behave because they don’t need to disappoint you?” he adds, “there are times on your career while you meet sure people that have an effect on others. Due to their recognition, due to their command of a state of affairs, they could simply take manipulate of a scenario. My old mentor chuck dick, my companions steve neal and mike rhodes and mike attanasio, are those sorts of men. They have got that gravitas. And actually i aspire to have that, too.” a few colleagues experience he has succeeded. “he doesn’t become distracted and doesn’t lose his cool,” robbins says. “a few lawyers might be adverse from starting to end and try to overwhelm their opponent. … he’ll be firm in his position, however honest and simple in his dealings.” fukumura still surfs once in a while, on the whole whilst he returns to hawaii for an annual go to. He and his wife have 3 kids and none have expressed an interest in following in his footsteps until these days. “inside the nick of time,” he writes, “my youngest, nine, informed me the day gone by that he desires to be a legal professional due to the fact he desires to be someone humans name once they’re in problem. Absolutely unprompted statement at the way home from basketball practice.” even as fukumura in no way observed his personal father’s footsteps into medicinal drug, he does find himself operating with life sciences corporations who're searching for compounds or therapies to combat sicknesses. “my customers are the maximum respected scientists and medical specialists inside the world,” he says. “maximum of the time, a scientific trial fails or capsules aren't authorised, however 100 percentage of the time investors understand that hazard after they sold a stock. And ninety eight percent of the time, my client hasn’t accomplished whatever wrong. “i am a guard for my customer.”