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Hiro N. Aragaki, Esq., C.Arb

Hiro N. Aragaki, Esq., C.Arb

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business & Commercial
Financial Markets
International & Cross-Border
Personal Injury/Torts
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hiro N. Aragaki, Esq., C.Arb is a distinguished neutral with more than 20 years of experience, including almost a decade of full-time law practice at global law firms and service as a neutral since 2001.  Recognized internationally for his experience in arbitration and mediation, he has trained judges and lawyers and is frequently called upon to consult on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) reform projects around the world. He brings energy, sharp analytic skills and a talent for thinking outside the box. He is particularly well known for shrewd case management, something he credits to the influence of the Hon. Fern M. Smith (Ret.), for whom he served as a law clerk.

As an arbitrator, Mr. Aragaki strives to design and manage the optimal procedure for a particular dispute. He believes in getting to a hearing on the merits as efficiently as possible and without over-lawyering or relying on technicalities, while remaining open to a variety of process enhancements aimed at achieving accurate results, such as tentative rulings and draft awards. He is familiar with civil and common law adjudicative approaches. 

As a mediator, Mr. Aragaki is known for investing extra work prior to the mediation to narrow the issues and ensure that parties and counsel come fully prepared. He sees his role as helping parties make the best-possible decision about settlement based on careful case evaluation, reality-testing about litigation risks and transaction costs, and creative problem-solving. He is accustomed to using a wide range of directive and facilitative interventions, as appropriate.  

Mr. Aragaki is a dual-qualified (U.S. and U.K.) lawyer, Faculty Director of the Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at U.C. Hastings, and a Professorial Research Associate at SOAS School of Law, London.  He is citizen of the U.S. and Japan, and an overseas citizen of India. He has lived in the U.K., Germany and France.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

As Arbitrator and Mediator

  • Arbitrated and mediated hundreds of disputes since 2001
  • Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators (2020 – present; invitation-only fellowship of nationally and internationally recognized commercial arbitrators)
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (2016 – present; recognition of outstanding commitment to international arbitration, requiring successful completion of intensive training course and award-writing examination)
  • Admitted to the neutral panel or database of the LCIA, ICC (U.S. & U.K. lists), HKIAC (Panel), CRCICA, WIPO, IACT (Tokyo), BIMAC (Dhaka), CPR (Distinguished Neutral Panel), FINRA
  • Representative sectors: banking and financial institutions, franchising, agency and distributorships, hotels/hospitality, energy (incl. renewables, LNG), technology and software, and telecommunications
  • Featured in The Changing Face of Arbitration, in The Daily Journal – Dispute Resolution Issue, Jan. 2020 (article on new, diverse arbitrators and mediators)

As Lawyer

  • Approximately 10 years of law firm practice experience, primarily in complex commercial litigation and arbitration, as well as in securities transactions and general corporate matters
  • Represented clients in large, multi-million-dollar disputes before state and federal trial courts, courts of appeal and supreme courts, as well as in commercial arbitrations before the AAA, LCIA, ICC, and ICDR
  • Admitted to practice in New York, California, Washington, D.C., as well as to the Roll of Solicitors (non- practising) in England and Wales
  • Extensive experience in the negotiation of consulting, credit, employment, financing, indemnification, licensing and purchase/sale contracts, as well as in drafting disclosures, corporate bylaws, board resolutions and SEC filings

As Law Professor 

  • Professor of contract law with a deep understanding of specialized issues relating to interpretation/construction, best efforts and the duty of good faith, material/total breach and equitable remedies
  • Taught or teaching the following courses in law and business schools since 2003: Contracts, International Business Transactions, Alternative Dispute Resolution, International Commercial Arbitration, Mediation, Negotiation, Cross-Border/Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution, Comparative & International Law
  • Advisor to Expert Committee on Mediation, Supreme Court of India (committee formed to draft a new national mediation law for India)
  • Convenor, Africa Mediation Network (in conjunction with SOAS Arbitration in Africa Conference Series)

Representative Matters

  • Business & Commercial
      • Bifurcated, multi-year dispute seeking declaration of ownership interests in a credit card processing company, interpretation of the scope and validity of a release of claims, and determination of residuals-based compensation under National Sales Master Agreements; claims alleged included claims of breach of contract and promissory estoppel 
      • Dispute between a packaging company and an auto dealership involving claims of breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of warranty, rescission, and negligence; case raised threshold jurisdictional and third-party joinder issues 
      • Commercial dispute between manufacturer and retailer of vapor and e-liquid products 
      • Dispute between a wellness provider and a uniform rental/supply company involving breach of a services agreement; case raised third-party joinder issues 
      • Breach of contract dispute between major, publicly traded uniform services corporation and food service provider involving breach of a facility services agreement 
      • Commercial dispute between a domestic linen supply company and an automotive company
      • Breach of contract dispute involving a major credit card company
      • Commercial dispute against one of the nation’s fastest-growing tech companies, involving claims of breach of contract and counterclaims of trade disparagement and unfair competition under Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.
      • LLC dissolution involving claims of constructive fraud, breach of an oral loan agreement and guaranty, and promissory estoppel; case raised jurisdictional and third-party joinder issues 
      • Dispute between a television development/distribution company and a production company involving claims and counterclaims of breach of contract, intentional and negligent interference with contractual relations/economic relations, and conversion 
      • Breach of contract dispute between a car rental software app and a service provider
      • Commercial dispute involving a peer-to-peer online car-sharing platform
      • Dispute between a mobile app/software development company and a health care services company involving claims and counterclaims for breach of a master services agreement, account stated, fraud/misrepresentation, and conversion 
      • Commercial dispute between a shareholder and a publicly traded cloud-based education management service company 
      • Commercial dispute between a multinational publicly traded motorsports promotion company and a soil-stabilization company
      • Commercial dispute involving one of the world’s largest online ticket marketplaces
      • Dispute between a mobile banking app and a financial products nonprofit involving breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing 
      • Commercial dispute between an online networking platform and a technology PR firm over a public relations agreement, raising alter ego claims
      • Dispute between a national time management software/hardware company and a software company involving claims of libel, slander and unfair competition (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.), and allegations of trade secret misappropriation
      • Dispute between nationwide food service franchisor and a franchisee involving claims of breach of a franchise agreement, indemnity, and failure to accept a tender of defense 
      • Breach of contract dispute between a hospital and a provider of temporary medical staff
  • Civil Rights
      • Dispute between a global internet dating app and a consumer involving claims of age-based discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act; case involved motion practice over choice of law and attorney disqualification for the unauthorized practice of law in California
      • Dispute involving a global ride-sharing app over claims of sexual orientation-based discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, violations of the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.) and breach of contract 
  • Employment
      • Disability discrimination dispute under FEHA for punitive damages, declaratory relief and an injunction; case raised complex, unsettled questions regarding the employer’s duty to engage in the interactive process
      • Age discrimination case involving a prominent insurance company, raising claims of wrongful termination and infliction of emotional distress, as well as violations of FEHA (failure to prevent, retaliation), Labor Code §§ 203, 226.4, 1194 and 2802, and Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.  
      • Civil rights case involving a major school district, raising claims under state and federal constitutions and under the Americans with Disabilities Act, among others
  • Financial Markets
      • Two-week, eight-figure dispute between a health care services company and a major multinational financial institution in connection with a variety of auction rate securities products and involving claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud/misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of SEC Rule 10b-5 and Cal. Corp. Code § 25401 et seq. (as co-arbitrator)
      • Multi-million-dollar dispute between an investor and a major broker-dealer involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, constructive fraud, fraud/misrepresentation, and violations of SEC Rule 10b-5 and California blue sky laws, among others
      • Dispute involving investment management firm in connection with complex private placement products and receivables-backed securities, raising claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and punitive damages
  • International & Cross-Border
      • Six figure ICDR arbitration seated in Los Angeles between a U.S.-based eSports website and a U.K.-based media and broadcasting company, involving claims and counterclaims for defamation and breach of a content provider agreement (as sole arbitrator)
      • Six figure ICDR arbitration seated in Los Angeles between a consortium of investors based in China and a U.S.-based aviation school involving claims of breach of contract, fraud/misrepresentation, concealment, unfair competition, alter ego liability, unjust enrichment and declaratory relief (as sole arbitrator)
      • Seven figure JAMS arbitration seated in Los Angeles between a National Basketball Association athlete and a Chinese manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods and related products (as sole arbitrator)
      • Six figure AAA arbitration between a U.S. credit facility and a Russian investor involving breach of a bilingual Russian/English loan agreement (as sole arbitrator)
  • Personal Injury/Torts
      • Personal injury dispute involving a national furniture and electronics company over claims of strict products liability and negligence 
      • Complex dispute involving an automobile dealership and a finance company over claims under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (including § 1782(b) offer issues), the California Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200), the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Automobile Sales Finance Act, as well as claims of fraud/misrepresentation, breach of contract, rescission of contract, seeking damages, declaratory relief and a public injunction
      • Dispute involving an automobile finance company over claims under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the California Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200), and claims for fraud/misrepresentation and concealment
      • Dispute involving the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and a leading airline for negligence
      • Numerous disputes involving claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA)
      • Chair of tripartite panel reviewing arbitration award rendered against a publicly traded education loan management and business processing company, involving claims under the TCPA and the RFDCPA; case raised issues regarding the applicable standard of review, a circuit split in the definition of “automated telephone dialing system” and gaps in the record
  • Professional Liability
      • Attorney fee dispute between a law firm and a construction company
      • Attorney fee dispute between a law firm and a dental practice 
      • Attorney fee dispute between a law firm and an individual
      • Attorney fee dispute raising complex issues regarding whether law firm retained on contingency may recover in quantum meruit after withdrawing for good cause; proceeding bifurcated with motion practice 
      • Numerous forensic accounting fee disputes 

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

Selected Publications

  • A Snapshot of National Legislation on Same Neutral Med-Arb and Arb-Med Around the Globe, in Multitier Approaches to the Resolution of International Disputes: A Global and Comparative Study (Anselmo Reyes & Weixia Gu, forthcoming)
  • The African Promise, ADR Prof Blog: Indisputably (2019)
  • An Outsider’s View of Mediation Law Reform in Africa, Newsletter of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Zambia Branch (July – Sep. 2019)
  • SOAS Arbitration in Africa Survey, ADR Prof Blog: Indisputably (2018)
  • Arbitration Reform in India: Challenges and Opportunities, in The Developing World of Arbitration (Weixia Gu and Anselmo Reyes eds., 2018)
  • Reflections on Epic Systems v. Lewis, Nos. 16–285, 16–300, 16–307, 584 U.S. (2018); Summary Judgments (LLS Faculty Blog May 25, 2018)
  • Things We Know and Think We Know About BATNA and WATNA, ADR Prof Blog: Indisputably (Jan. 4, 2018)
  • Aragaki on DirecTV v. Imburgia, ADR Prof Blog: Indisputably (Dec. 21, 2015)
  • The Federal Arbitration Act as Procedural Reform, 89 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1939 (2014)
  • AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and the Antidiscrimination Theory of Federal Arbitration Act Preemption, 4 Penn. St. Y.B. Arb. & Med. 39 (2013)
  • Status and Contract in AT&T v. Concepcion, SCOTUSBlog symposium on arbitration and the U.S. Supreme Court (2011)
  • The Mess of Manifest Disregard, 119 Yale L.J. Online 1 (2009)
  • Hall Street Associates v. Mattel: The Right Result The Wrong Way?, JAMS Dispute Resolution Alert, Vol. 8, No. 3 (2008)
  • The Negotiation Process, in A Litigator’s Guide to Effective Use of ADR in California (CEB Press 2007)

Selected Presentations

  • International Developments in Mediation and their Implications for the Continent, SOAS Sixth Arbitration in Africa Conference, in partnership with the Centre de Médiation et d’Arbitrage de GICAM, Douala, Cameroon (2020)
  • Litertainment: Discussions on Contractual Pitfalls, Contours of Investigations, Enforcement of US Judgments & Awards in India, Inaugural Seminar on Navigating Disputes in India sponsored by Nishith Desai Associates, at JAMS Century City (2020)
  • Pathways to Sustainable Mediation – Mediation Legislation in Comparative Perspective, JAMS Weinstein Fellows’ Week, San Francisco & Napa (2019)
  • From A(fghanistan) to V(ietnam): Mediation Law in Comparative Perspective, The Mediation Society of San Francisco (2019)
  • What Commercial Mediation Legislation from Around the Globe Tells Us About How Mediation is Developing Internationally, Los Angeles ADR Study Group (2019)
  • Ad hoc Arbitration in the United States, Ethics in Arbitration Symposium sponsored by the Civil Justice Research Initiative, UC Irvine School of Law (with Richard Chernick, Donna Melby, and Carrie Menkel-Meadow, et al., 2019)
  • “Minds Meeting” Across Borders: Can’t We All Just Mediate Our International Dispute?, ABA Section of International Law Conference, Washington, D.C. (2019)
  • A Primer on Mediation Law in Africa, SOAS Fifth Arbitration in Africa Conference in partnership  with Bannaga & Fadlabi LLP and the African Institute of International Law, Arusha, Tanzania (2019)
  • The Legal Framework of Arb-Med and Med-Arb: Lessons From Around the Globe, Conference on Multi-tier Approaches to the Resolution of International Disputes: A Global and Comparative Study, Hong Kong University (with Anselmo Reyes, Thomas Stipanowich, and Weixia Gu, 2018)
  • Pursuing FLSA and Employment Discrimination Claims in the Wake of Epic Systems, ABA Section of Employment and Labor Law Webinar (2018)
  • The Role of Counsel in Mediation, Advocacy in Mediation: The U.S. Experience, Workshop organized by WBG and VBLC on Outlook for Commercial Mediation, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2018)
  • Lessons Learnt From Implementing Commercial Mediation in the U.S. and the U.K., Workshop organized by WBG, VBLC and VIAC, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2018)
  • What Mediation Legislation From Around the Globe Tells Us About How Mediation Is Developing Internationally, Yale-Quinnipiac Dispute Resolution Workshop, Yale Law School (2018)
  • Some Challenges of Promoting Commercial Mediation in the Developing World, public lecture delivered at SOAS School of Law, University of London (2018)
  • The Benefits of ADR for Commerce and Investment in Liberia, formal launch of Liberia’s commercial mediation program organized by the World Bank Group and the Commercial Court of Montserrado County, Monrovia, Liberia (2017)
  • Arbitration in India, AALS Comparative Arbitration Panel, San Francisco (with Shahla Ali, Manuel Gomez, and Jill Gross, 2017)
  • Can Dispute Resolution Be Improved?, Global Pound Conference, USC Gould School of Law, Los Angeles (2017)
  • ADR Around the World: Country Developments, Global Trends, ABA Dispute Resolution Annual Meeting, San Francisco (2017)
  • Reevaluating the Role of Autonomy in ADR, ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Meeting, New York (with Claudia Bernard, Michael Lewis and Stephen Ware, 2016)
  • Holistic Approach to Dispute Management—Interplay of Arbitration and Mediation, Private Commercial Mediation Conclave, Bangalore, India (with K.G. Raghavan, Shreyas Jayasimha, and Jay Folberg, 2016)
  • Negotiation & Beyond, Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore, India (with Hon. Rebecca Westerfield, Jay Folberg, and Victor Schachter, 2016)
  • Shifting Conceptions of Freedom in U.S. Arbitration Jurisprudence, Mandatory Arbitration and Justice Group, SEALS Conference (2014)
  • The Federal Arbitration Act as Procedural Reform, Vanderbilt Law School and UCLA Law School (2014)
  • “Contract” or “Procedure”? Reinterpreting the Federal Arbitration Act, Michigan Law School Symposium on The Future of Class Actions, Ann Arbor (2013)
  • ADR Initiatives in the Developing World: Lessons From the Field, ABA Dispute Resolution Section Annual Meeting, Chicago (2013)
  • Making Sense of FAA Preemption After AT&T v. Concepcion, ABA Annual Meeting, Chicago (with Eric Tuchmann and Terry Moritz, 2012)
  • Tales of Success and Failure in Mediation: An Evening With Hon. Daniel Weinstein, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (2012)
  • The Future of Arbitration and the World of Class Action Litigation, Federalist Society Podcast (with Chris Drahozal, Brian Fitzpatrick, Michael Greve, and Bo Rutledge, 2012)
  • AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion and the Antidiscrimination Model of FAA Preemption, Symposium on U.S. Arbitration Law in the Wake of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, State College, Pennsylvania (with John Feerick, Sandra Partridge, Art Rovine et al., 2012)
  • The Supreme Court and Recent Arbitration Jurisprudence: Where Are We Headed?, Fordham Law School (with Edna Sussman, Eric Tuchmann, Thomas Stipanowich, et al., 2011)
  • Is the Class Mechanism Fundamentally Incompatible With Arbitration? Quinnipiac/Yale Dispute Resolution Workshop, Yale Law School (2011)
  • Is “Manifest Disregard” Dead After Hall Street?, ABA Annual Meeting, Chicago (2009)

Selected Trainings and Teaching

  • Co-Instructor, Commercial Mediation Training, Monrovia, Liberia (with Magistrate Judge Robert Levy, EDNY, and Caroline Etuk, 2017): Provided dispute systems design advice and delivered two mediation trainings for lawyers and judges as part of World Bank Group-funded project to establish a court-annexed mediation program at the Commercial Court of Montserrado County
  • Co-Trainer, Advanced Mediation Training, Centre for Advanced Mediation Practice, Bangalore, India (2016)
  • Co-Instructor, Mediation Training Course for District Judges, Advocates and Educators, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2011): Delivered 35-hour mediation training and dispute system design advice for the Judicial Administration Training Institute of Bangladesh and the South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies
  • Instructor and Head Coach, Loyola Law School ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition Team, Paris (2018, 2019)
  • Instructor and Head Coach, Loyola Law School Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court Team, Hong Kong (2019)
  • Taught courses on ADR and international business law at Nagoya University Graduate Faculty of Law, Institut Supérieur Européen de Gestion/International School of Management (Paris), SOAS School of Law (London) and UC Hastings College of the Law 

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • Roll of Solicitors (non-practising), England and Wales

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators (2020-present)
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (2016–present)
  • Board Member, California Dispute Resolution Council (2018–2020)
  • Standing Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, California State Bar (2013–2016) Executive Committee, AALS Section on Dispute Resolution (2015–present)
  • International Bar Association (2017–present); Arbitration and Mediation Committees (2017– present)
  • American Society of International Law (2017–present); Africa Interest Group, (2017–present) ABA International Law Section (2018–present); International Mediation and Arbitration Committees (2018–present)
  • ABA Dispute Resolution Section (2007–present); International Committee (2011–present) Board Member, Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives (2015–present; international foundation to promote sustainable mediation programs, especially in countries with overburdened and backlogged court systems)
  • ABA ROLI Africa Law Initiative Council (2018–2020)
  • ABA ROLI Central European & Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI) Council (2020- present)
  • Blogger, (2018–present)
  • Senior Fellow, UCLA Law School Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program (2012–present)

Honors and Awards

  • Higginbotham Fellow, American Arbitration Association (2013–2014)
  • Sloan Fellow, Center for Understanding in Conflict, Mill Valley, CA (2002–2005)
  • Benefactors Scholar, St. John’s College, Cambridge, U.K. (1992–1994)

Background and Education

  • Faculty Director, Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, Hastings Law, University of California (2022-present)
  • Professorial Research Associate, SOAS Law School, London (2018–present)
  • Professor (with tenure), Loyola Law School (2011–2022)
  • Assistant Professor, Fordham Graduate School of Business (2007–2011)
  • Associate, Davis Polk & Wardwell (2005–2007)
  • Associate/Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers (1998–2003)
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Fern M. Smith, N.D. Cal. (1998–1999)
  • Associate, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe (1997–1998)
  • J.D., with Distinction, Stanford University (1997)
    • Editor, Stanford Law Review
  • M.Phil. and doctoral studies, Cambridge University (1990–1994)
    • Benefactor’s Scholar, St. John’s College
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Yale University (1990)


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