The affiliate firm of Pacific Lawyers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the “CNMI”) is O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes. Established in 1985, O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes now has seven lawyers and two paralegals, and is the largest law firm in the CNMI. O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes has become the largest law firm in the CNMI because of the quality of the legal work its lawyers provide, and the success of its lawyers on behalf of its clients. O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes has an office on the island Saipan, the capital of the CNMI and the island in the CNMI with the largest population, in the Marianas Business Plaza.
The History of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes and of the Lawyers with the Firm
O’Connor: Robert O’Connor is the founding lawyer of the firm O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes. Robert began as a lawyer with the Riverside and Ventura County District Attorney Consumer Fraud Division before coming to Saipan in 1983 to help establish the new Office of the Attorney General for the CNMI. Robert then opened his own private practice in 1985. Robert argued the first case before the CNMI’s Supreme Court and has been involved to some degree in every major lawsuit filed in the CNMI since 1985, including as Class Counsel for the Garment Manufactures in a class action brought against garment factories and their buyers alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act that was originally touted by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to be a billion dollar case (it wasn’t). Robert was involved with the enactment of gaming on Tinian and has, in the past, represented the Tinian Gaming Control Commission. Today, Robert focuses his practice advising on Gaming Law, and assisting construction companies, architects and engineers navigate the CNMI’s rules and regulations that apply to Construction Industry.
Berman: Michael Berman (the “Berman” in O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes) is a lawyer who has was admitted to practice in the CNMI in 1977 and has remained active in the CNMI, but who primarily practices on Guam with Berman O’Connor & Mann (Robert O’Connor is the “O’Connor” in Berman O’Connor & Mann and Robert is a member of the Guam Bar as well as the CNMI Bar). In 1996, Pacific Lawyers was formed by the CNMI and Guam firms and Michael Berman then joined the CNMI firm and Robert O’Connor joined the Guam firm. Michael has a long history of practice in Micronesia. As a lawyer practicing in Guam, Michael focuses his practice primarily on representing financial institutions.
Dotts: Michael Dotts joined Robert O’Connor as a lawyer in 1990, and together with Robert found O’Connor & Dotts, that grew to be the law firm of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes. Before founding the firm with Robert, Michael was in a law partnership with the late Larry Hillblom (the “H” in DHL). When Mr. Hillbom became a Special Judge with the newly formed CNMI Supreme Court, Michael and Robert formed O’Connor & Dotts. As a lawyer on Saipan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Michael was deeply involved in both real estate development and litigation involving land alienation restrictions in the CNMI (popularly known as “Article XII”). Michael later focused on the litigation over the estate of Larry Hillblom on behalf of Mr. Hillblom’s life partner, Josephine Nocasa. Also, Michael was involved as a lawyer in various litigation, including representing public employee retiree plaintiffs in an action brought against Merrill Lynch arising out of the collapse of the stock market in late 2008. Michael has extensive litigation experience involving Title VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other aspects of labor and employment law. Today, Michael, as a lawyer practicing on Saipan, focuses his practice on assisting clients with real estate transactions, zoning issues, corporate formation and governance, and employment matters. But Michael remains active in civil litigation.
Banes: David Banes joined O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes in 1992 as an associate attorney and became a partner in 1996. As a lawyer, David focuses his practice on insurance defense and criminal defense. David has obtained not guilty jury verdicts in cases brought by the United States Attorney in Federal District Court, including in a case that charged a police detective with extortion. David has settled numerous personal injury cases on behalf of insurance companies, including cases involving drowned scuba divers.
The other lawyers at O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes (Gregory Koebel, Joseph Horey, Denny Nie, and Claire Kelleher-Smith) each have a different area of emphasis or work with a partner as part of a team of lawyers. You can read about all of the lawyers of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes on their profile pages linked to this page.
The Practice of the Lawyers with O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes
Each lawyer with O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes is able to appear in all of the CNMI courts on Saipan, Rota and Tinian, including the Federal District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, located on Saipan. The lawyers with O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes assist clients with litigation, business transactions, and in governmental relations.
The lawyers of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes have represented a wide variety of clients, large and small, including airlines, banks, hotels, tour agencies, insurance companies, construction companies, architects and engineers, and individuals in personal injury actions as well as in criminal proceedings, and have actively lobbied the government and legislature on behalf of their clients on a host of issues. Some of the clients of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes have included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries; Philip Morris; Philippine Airlines; Liz Claiborne; Sears & Roebuck; Levi Strauss; The Limited; Lufthansa Airlines; The Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission; the Municipality of Rota; the Municipality of Tinian; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company; Brown & Williamson; Tokio Marine Insurance; PADI; Vanderpool Engineering & Pipeline Co.; United Micronesian Development Association (“UMDA”); TASI Tours; KSPN-TV; Leo Daly Engineers; Winzler & Kelley Engineers & Architects (now part of GHD); Japan Consulate to Northern Mariana Islands; Coldwell Solar, Inc.; Fairtex, Inc; and JoeTen Enterprise.
Each lawyer at O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes works independently for the benefit of the client, as well and with the other lawyers of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes, and with the other lawyers working with Pacific Lawyers. The lawyers take a “team approach,” staffing a client’s matter to the full extent needed and as only a large firm can, under the supervision of one partner. The lawyers of O’Connor Berman Dotts & Banes believes this approach provides their clients with the best legal representation possible.