Jonathan W.Y. Lai

Awards and Recognition
  • Advisory Board of LEGUS, international network of law firms (2016-present)
  • Co-Chair of the Business Law Section of the HSBA (2019-present)
  • Vice Chair of Legal Development & Training Committee of the Inter Pacific Bar Association (2019-present)
  • Former Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawaii Foundation (2016-2017), director (2014-2019)
  • Former Chair of the Hawaii Community Development Authority (2007-2009), member from 2004-2012
  • Former Chair of the Bankruptcy Section of the HSBA
  • Former Director of the Collection Law Section of HSBA
  • Beta Gamma Sigma, international business honor society (lifetime member)
  • National Eagle Scout Association (Eagle Scout recipient)
Representative Clients
Download Bio

After joining Watanabe Ing LLP in 1995, Jonathan Lai became a partner in 2003. He became the firm’s Managing Partner in 2020. Jonathan also co-manages the Creditors’ Rights practice area and co-manages the Business Law and Governance practice area. His legal practice focuses on creditors’ rights, business law, foreclosure, bankruptcy, collections and loan workouts.  Jonathan also practices in the area of real estate and commercial litigation. Through his leadership, the Creditors’ Rights practice area has represented the seven largest banks in Hawaii, six of the eight largest Oahu-based federal credit unions and a number of other financial institutions throughout the country. His diverse client base also includes non-profit organizations and businesses ranging from single member LLCs to foreign corporations. Jonathan represented an international syndicate of lenders in the $300+ million foreclosure of the former Ritz Carlton Residences at Kapalua Bay. He has also represented other lenders in shopping center, commercial and hotel foreclosures and bankruptcies throughout the state.

  • University of Southern California, J.D./M.B.A., 1995
  • Claremont McKenna College, B.A. in Economics & Government, 1991
  • University of Hawaiʻi-Manoa, Pacific Asian Management Institute Certificate, 1989
  • Punahou School, 1988
Community Involvement
  • Member of Inter Pacific Bar Association; attended meetings in Hong Kong, Auckland and Manila
  • Volunteer speaker at events for various professional organizations in Hawaii, other states and internationally
  • Former volunteer educator at Punahou School
  • Former volunteer coach in basketball, flag football and other sports
Notable Cases
  • International syndicate of lenders in $300+ million foreclosure of former Ritz Carlton Residences at Kapalua Bay
  • Various banks in a number of commercial real estate workouts and contested foreclosures
  • Hawaii companies in the acquisitions of competing businesses in the service and retail industries
  • Shopping centers in commercial lessor-lessee disputes
  • Start-up LLCs, joint ventures and other business entities in transactions
  • Hawaii lender in receivership of shopping center
  • Business entities in wind down of operations in Hawaii
  • Creditors in the exemplification and collection of out-of-state judgments