According to a source close to the deal, Jossem will join Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson Hand.
The 160-attorney firm has approached several other high-profile local lawyers in a push to expand its Hawaii operations, the source said.
Besides Jossem and Waihee, the firm's big-name recruits include former Land Use Commissioner Renton Nip and Norma Wong, former Office of State Planning deputy director in the Waihee administration.
"We see enormous potential in Hawaii and we will be expanding the areas of practice in that office," said Rosemary Freeman, the firm's director of public affairs. She declined to confirm Jossem's hiring.
Jossem, a longtime partner in the firm of Torkildson Katz Jossem Fonseca Jaffe Moore & Hetherington, declined comment on the matter. He took over as GOP chairman in 1991 and stepped down in 1994.
Waihee did not return calls.
Current Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Tatibouet said she was unaware of Jossem's move.
"I see it more as a professional move rather than as a politi cal move," said Tatibouet, who said she has known Jossem since their college days at Cornell.
Besides Honolulu, Verner Liipfert has offices in Houston and Austin, Texas. Locally, the firm has represented Bishop Estate in its lobbying efforts in Washington. The firm lobbied under contract for the state Department of Transportation on aviation, highway and mass transit funding issues.
Last year, Gov. Ben Cayetano canceled that nonbid contract, saying the circumstances surrounding it created the appearance of impropriety.
Waihee and the law firm, which earned some $1 million in fees from the contract, insisted the contract was proper.