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University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law
by Carina Zaragoza
The University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law distinguishes itself in several ways. The William S. Richardson School of Law, established in 1973, is one of the newer law schools in the country. Although the school is one of the smallest law schools in the country, with about 20 faculty and 320 students, this allows for close and frequent interaction among faculty and students. The school specializes in Pacific-Asian legal studies, ocean law studies, and environmental studies - areas of law that aren't developed in other schools. And lastly, it is the only law school in Hawaii. So for all you islanders who don't want to leave paradise but do want to practice law, then the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law is the place to go.
Because this is the only law school in the state of Hawaii, admission preference is given to those who are currently residents and to those non-residents who have strong ties to Hawaii or who have backgrounds and interests relevant to the ocean, the environment or the Pacific Asian region. The reason for this is the school's philosophy and focus. The area of law taught here seeks to serve the Hawaiian community, as well as Pacific-Asian interests. Therefore it stands to reason that the students are current residents or have ties to the region, as they have a higher stake and concern for their home state and region. However, students are accepted from all over the US mainland, as well as Asia and the Pacific. So if you don't want to be studying for the bar in Minnesota in the middle of a snow storm, then make Hawaii your top choice, as there's a chance you'll get in.
Tuition and fees in general are reasonable. Hawaii residents will pay approximately $5,000 per semester, while non-residents will pay about $8,000 per semester. Although the cost of living in Hawaii is high, it is generally not much higher than in such U.S. cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Washington, DC. And you don't get the lush surroundings in those congested cities.
As the school focuses on Hawaii, its communities and residents, the school's placement efforts are focused on the Hawaii legal market, where the school's graduates enjoy tremendous success. Between 90-95% of recent graduating classes found employment within six months of graduation. This figure is remarkably high when compared to national statistics.
The law library can be considered a community library, as both undergraduate and law students, faculty, members of the bar, and the public have access to the collection of 285,000 volumes and microform equivalents. The law library is supplemented by automated legal research systems that provide the latest in legal research technology to law students and faculty.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law is in a sense student and culturally oriented, meaning there are support groups and organizations that promote the native culture and interests of Hawaiians as well as those from Asia and the Pacific.
The Ahahui O Hawaii is an organization of Native Hawaiian students. Members of this organization are interested in issues affecting the Native Hawaiian community as well as graduates of the School of Law. The Hui helps members complete their legal education through academic assistance, scholarship awards and moral support. In particular, members orient new students to the law school experience, hold fund-raising and cultural events, sponsor legal forums, share study aids, and provide a link with the Native Hawaiian Bar Association. The Hui also strives to educate the law school and community about legal issues impacting Native Hawaiians and Hawaii, including traditional and customary rights, sovereignty, and current cases and legislation. In short, the Hui is a support and informational organization.
The Pacific-Asian Legal Studies Organization (PALSO) is committed to developing an understanding of Pacific-Asian legal systems. The organization sponsors a series of lectures by speakers from the local bar and academic community as well as from Pacific Rim countries and the mainland.
The Pacific Islands Legal Studies Association (PILSA) can be described as an advocacy group. PILSA aims to promote awareness and discussion of the legal aspects of political, social, environmental and economic problems of the island nations of the Pacific. It also seeks to affirm the Pacific's distinct geopolitical identity with its own unique perspectives. PILSA also aims to assist in the recruitment, admission, and retention of students of Pacific Islands descent.
When first looking at law schools, the geographic location of the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law might seem like the only thing going for it, when compared to the behemoths of law schools on the US mainland. Without a doubt, Hawaii is beautiful. But the school's particular program, one that aims to help surrounding communities and foster education of its people, is the real reason one should attend the school. Creating identity and promoting success by legal means for a distinct people is the strength of the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law.
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