School of Law
Admission to the law school is a highly competitive process, which is based on an applicant’s academic achievement, aptitude for the study of law, and professional promise. Included among the specific factors evaluated are undergraduate grade point average, results of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), academic work beyond the bachelor’s degree, academic rigor, writing ability, work experience, and volunteer and civic activities. The admission committee also takes into consideration the diversity of the class and unusual accomplishments or achievements. Residency in Hawai‘i or special experience relevant to Hawai‘i, the Asia Pacific region, or the law school’s specialty programs is also a significant admission criterion.
All applicants must have earned, by the entrance date, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning in the U.S. or a foreign degree that is fully equivalent. Other requirements include the LSAT results, submission of transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a completed law school application to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).
Applications for admission must be filed with the School of Law and must be submitted online. Check the law school website for up-to-date deadlines and application requirements. Incomplete applications are not considered. Applicants by the February priority deadline are usually notified of the admission decision in late March/early April for August entry.
The initiative, now known as the Ulu Lehua Scholars Program, was established in 1974, the year after the school’s founding. The program selects students from legally under-served communities who have overcome adversity and demonstrated academic potential, leadership ability, commitment to social justice, and provides an opportunity for them to obtain a legal education. Ulu Lehua Scholars are fully matriculated into the JD Program and benefit from participation in a small, supportive learning community within the law school. In their first semester, Ulu Lehua Scholars, like all first year (1L) law students, typically take Contracts, Civil Procedure, Lawyering Fundamentals, and Legal Research. In place of a doctrinal 1L class (e.g., Torts or Criminal Law), which they take later in summer or in their second year, however, Ulu Lehua 1Ls take American Legal Systems. In addition to providing participants with structured and individualized instruction in legal reasoning, legal writing, law school study techniques, and other foundational legal skills, this course introduces Lehua students to critical legal theory and to other interdisciplinary perspectives on the relationship between law and social change. Ulu Lehua 1Ls and first-semester 2Ls also benefit from a structured program of tutoring in civil procedure, contracts, torts, real property, and constitutional law, led by upper division Lehua students who excelled in those courses. Ulu Lehua Scholars participate fully in the life of the law school, assuming leadership roles in such organizations as the Hawai‘i Law Review, the ‘Ahahui o Hawai‘i, the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal, and the school’s award-winning moot court teams. Upon graduation, they become part of a large and influential Lehua alumni community, which includes many current judges, government leaders, social justice advocates, business administrators, and prominent attorneys. The Ulu Lehua Program extends the mission of its predecessor, the Pre-Admissions Program, founded to address the under-representation of disadvantaged communities.
The law school seeks candidates who will contribute to fulfilling the goals of the program, including: (1) addressing the legal and related needs of communities under-served by the legal profession in Hawai‘i and the South Pacific; (2) representing communities that are presently under-represented in the law school and the Hawai‘i Bar; (3) serving as role models for and mentors to others who are striving to overcome adversity and to reach their full potential as community leaders in Hawai‘i and the South Pacific; and (4) bringing distinctive viewpoints and life experiences to the law school community, enriching the understanding of all who work and study here.
The JD program is a 3-year, full-time course of study that begins in August with a 3-day orientation for new students. The JD degree is awarded upon completion of the satisfactory completion of 89 credit hours, including a selection of required courses. Completion of the program must be attained within seven years of the date of first registration. Full-time study is defined as registration for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester plus regular attendance at scheduled class meetings. In addition, all law students must complete 60 hours of pro bono legal service in order to graduate. Visit the law school website for a detailed description of the degree requirements.
The first-year curriculum offers a conventional format of required substantive courses and intensive small group seminars in legal writing, research, and advocacy. The program for the second and third years is primarily elective and includes writing and research seminars, clinical workshops (some of which involve students in actual litigation under the Supreme Court’s Student Practice Rule), and a variety of courses in both traditional and new areas of law.
In the fall of 2008, the law school launched a part-time evening program, leading to a JD degree. Part-time students share the same competitive qualities of the full-time student body and graduation requirements are the same for both programs.
A student in the part-time program typically takes between 8-11 course credits over 3-4 evenings per week. The first 2 years of the part-time program are structured to allow students to complete most of the required courses. Making steady part-time progress, including summers, a student should be able to graduate in 4 to 5 years. There is no separate application for admission; applicants may indicate on their application a desire to be considered for the part-time program. Students admitted to the part-time program may continue to hold a full-time job.
Advanced JD Program for Foreign Law Graduates
The Advanced JD allows graduates of foreign law schools to complete their U.S. law studies and earn a JD degree in as little as 2 years. Under this program, qualified foreign law graduates may be admitted with advanced standing and awarded up to 29 credits for their previous law study. The decision on the number of credits to be granted will be made when the application is considered, and successful applicants will be notified at the time of admission how many credits they will receive for their foreign study.
Most students admitted to this program will complete the first-year required JD curriculum in their first year of study, then take their choice of elective courses in the second year of study. We work with all students to design an individual program suited to their background and interests, including participation in our programs in environmental, international, and business law.
Our 2-year JD program provides foreign law graduates with the best preparation for bar admission and for the successful practice of law. Advanced JD students are full members of our law school community. Students admitted to the accelerated JD program receive the same degree as other JD students and are eligible to take the bar examination in all U.S. jurisdictions, if they meet the other requirements for admission. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LL.M. Program for International Students
The LL.M. program is a 1-year course of study open to foreign legal professionals and law graduates who wish to gain a broader understanding of U.S. and international legal issues. The program begins in August; no students will be admitted mid-year. To graduate, students must complete at least 24 credit hours. Students are free to design their own course of study in consultation with the LL.M. director and may select a range of courses and seminars in areas such as business and commercial law, environmental law, and international and comparative law. Their program may (but need not) include first-year courses, which serve as an introduction to U.S. law and methods of study. With the consent of the instructor and the LL.M. director, LL.M. students also may enroll in courses offered by schools or departments outside the law school or participate in legal externships.
The Introduction to American Law course is required and restricted to LL.M. students, but LL.M. students will take all other classes with American JD students and will have ample opportunity to interact with them. The small size of the LL.M. program and of most School of Law classes promotes close interaction, and LL.M. students are encouraged to participate in all aspects of law school life.
For more information on the LL.M. program, visit our website at www.law.hawaii.edu or contact the LL.M. director at email@example.com.
For complete information on admission to the law school’s degree programs, contact the Office of Admissions at 2515 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822 or online at www.law.hawaii.edu/admissions.
The Ka Huli ‘Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law was established in 2005 at the law school through a grant under the Native Hawaiian Education Act. The center focuses on education, research, community outreach, and the preservation of invaluable Hawaiian historical and legal materials. It also offers new courses and supports law students as they pursue legal careers and leadership roles in the Native Hawaiian community. Center faculty have expertise in many aspects of Native Hawaiian rights, water law, Federal Indian law, and traditional and customary rights issues. With assistance from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and other generous community supporters, the center supports a Post-JD Research Fellowship program; awards Summer Fellowships allowing law students to work for Native Hawaiian organizations over the summer; awards student scholarships; and publishes scholarship on Native Hawaiian law. Students may receive a Certificate in Native Hawaiian Law by taking a series of courses in this specialization.
Law students may integrate their law school work with other graduate work at UH Manoa and receive both the JD degree and a graduate degree. The most popular dual degree programs have been the JD–MBA, the JD–master of urban and regional planning, and the JD–MA in Asian studies, although other dual degrees may be approved in consultation with the law school. Students may also pursue graduate certificate programs including ocean policy, resource management, or gerontology.
Students interested in dual degree or certificate programs must apply separately and be admitted to both the law school and the graduate or certificate program. Admission to one program does not guarantee admission to the other.
The UH Elder Law Program (UHELP) consists of two components: the Elder Law course and the Elder Law legal services project. The course is part of the law school’s educational program for training law students in the rapidly expanding field of elder law. The Elder Law legal services project provides direct delivery of limited civil legal services to older persons who are socially and economically needy. It also provides education, training and advice to older persons, their families, and caregivers regarding the often complex legal aspects of caregiving. This direct legal services project is an important source of cases assigned to law students in the Elder Law Clinic.
Recognizing the challenges that Hawai‘i faces in developing an environmentally sustainable economy, the law school has developed a vibrant and diverse Environmental Law Program (ELP). ELP offers a significant number of exciting and varied courses in environment law and related fields. The centerpiece of ELP is the Certificate in Environmental Law. The certificate program recognizes the increased student interest in this area, the expertise of a substantial number of our faculty, and growing opportunities in the field. Students interested in the certificate might also want to consider pursuing a Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate, which is offered at UH Manoa and is part of our dual degree program. The ELP certificate is available only to UH law students. For more information on ELP, visit our website at www.law.hawaii.edu/elp.
In 2016, the law school approved a new Certificate in International Law, reflecting the extensive expertise of the faculty and strong student interest in this growing field. The certificate is available to students who pursue a focused course of study in international law. Courses available include International Business Transactions, International Criminal Law, International Economic Law and Business, International Environmental Law, International Human Rights Advocacy, International and Foreign Law Research, International Intellectual Property, International Ocean Law, International Protection of Human Rights, and Transitional Justice and War Crimes Tribunals.
In keeping with Hawai‘i’s location, culture, and history, the law school has long featured a Pacific-Asian Legal Studies Program (PALS). The law school offers an exceptional range of courses on Pacific and Asian law: students may take general Asian and comparative law courses or choose from specialized courses on China, Japan, Korea, and the Pacific. Our PALS faculty members are actively engaged in current Asian-Pacific issues and bring an unusual depth of expertise to their courses. They are recognized nationally and internationally for their scholarship, which they combine with extensive real-world experience. The law school invites distinguished visitors from Asia and the Pacific to visit and teach short-term specialized courses to supplement the regular curriculum. To recognize students who concentrate in Pacific-Asian law, the law school awards a PALS certificate. PALS actively supports student participation in externships in Asia and the Pacific as part of their law school program, which will also count toward certificate credit. Students may also benefit from some of the many exchange relationships the law school maintains with law schools throughout the Asia-Pacific. For more information, visit our website at www.law.hawaii.edu/pals.
The Pro Bono Program at the William S. Richardson School of Law was one of the first law school pro bono programs and is thought to be the first student-initiated mandatory program in the nation. Students are required to locate and to provide 60 hours of law-related pro bono work under the supervision of an attorney, law school faculty or dean or other supervisor, as approved by the law school Pro Bono Program director. The definition of law-related pro bono work includes law related work in the public interest with private practice and non-profit attorneys as well as international, federal, state, or local government agencies, courts, or legislatures. Law students are encouraged to provide a portion of their pro bono service for indigent clients. The pro bono requirement began with the entering class of August 1992 and successful completion of the pro bono service requirement is a condition for graduation.
Law student organizations include:
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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