Capt. Michael A. Lilly, USN (Ret.) graduated with honors from McGeorge School of Law (JD, 1974) and from UC Santa Cruz (BA, 1968). He had a distinguished career as Hawaii’s Attorney General and as a successful trial attorney for 45 years. He was licensed in Hawaii and California, appeared twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and specialized in commercial, wrongful termination, and personal injury litigation. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As Attorney General, he was the State’s Chief Law Enforcement and Legal Officer. He was Chairman of the Governor’s Crime Committee, President of the Hawaii Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Director of the Western States Drug Information Network, and founder and member of the Vice President’s National Narcotics Border Interdiction System office in Hawaii.
After returning to private practice, he won the largest wrongful termination jury verdict in State history ($2.1 Million). He also won Hawaii Supreme Court cases on wrongful termination, the right to campaign for political office, land reform, and open government. After protracted class action litigation, he obtained an exemption for vaccinated guide dogs from Hawaii’s animal rabies quarantine, for which he was awarded the National Access Partners Award from Guide Dog Users, Inc., the Helen Kinau Wilder Friendship Award from the Hawaiian Humane Society, and the Eye of the Pacific Guide Dog Foundation’s Mirikitani Recognition Award. He also was awarded the National Society of the DAR’s 1999 Outstanding Community Service Award. He represented the trustee in the James Lull Bankruptcy, the largest Ponzi scheme in state history, recovering tens of millions of dollars of hidden assets for Lull’s victims.
Lilly is a Founding Director Emeritus of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc. which operates the battleship as a memorial and tourist attraction. He is on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Veterans Affairs, the Maui County Ethics Board, the Fundraising Chair of Guide Dogs of Hawaii, Inc., and a member of the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus Network. For nine years he served on the Honolulu Ethics Commission. He is a past member of the Secretary of the Navy’s Retiree Council (2009-2012), Trustee of Menlo College, President of the Navy League’s Pacific Region and Honolulu Council, Chairman and President of Diamond Head Theatre, President of the Association of the United States Navy’s Pearl Harbor Chapter, and member of the McGeorge Law School Alumni Board. He authored Nimitz at Ease, a book on how Admiral Nimitz’s relationship with his grandparents helped Nimitz win the Pacific War. He also authored If You Die Tomorrow, a layman’s book on estate planning, and is a frequent speaker on legal topics.
Lilly is a Vietnam War combat veteran. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and two Meritorious Service Medals. Lilly retired as a surface warfare Navy Captain after 30 years of service, active and reserve, including five commands. He is married to Cindy Walter and has four children. They reside in Kula, Maui.
Throughout 2024, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law will celebrate members of its vast alumni network in honor of the school’s 100-year anniversary. This post is the first in a series highlighting 100 exceptional McGeorge School of Law alumni.
Stay tuned for more blog posts as we celebrate the law school’s centennial anniversary.