Who wouldn't want to study law in Hawaii? The state is a bustling center of tourism and international trade with a legal environment nearly as lively and diverse as the natural environment that draws tourists from the mainland and countries around the world.
Given the state's relatively small size, it is perhaps not surprising that Hawaii has only a single American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school. The following article looks at the advantages and disadvantages of attending law school in Hawaii.
Hawaiian Bar Association Requirements
The Hawaiian Bar Association requires the completion of a Juris doctorate at an ABA-approved law school. Since the University of Hawai'i Manoa-William S. Richardson School of Law (U.H.) is the sole ABA-accredited law school in the state, it is the only local program that will qualify you to sit for the bar. However, there are advantages to attending Hawaii's accredited law school rather than studying on the mainland.
University of Hawai'i Manoa-William S. Richardson School of Law
Named for a former Hawaii State Supreme Court Chief Justice, the William S. Richardson School of Law is a public law school located in Honolulu, Hawaii. The vast majority of practicing attorneys in Hawaii are based out of Honolulu, the state's largest urban center. Studying in Honolulu provides opportunities to learn about the local legal profession and may produce internship and employment opportunities post-graduation.
Hawaii also has a somewhat unique view of state jurisprudence, including the concept of Kanawai Mamalahoe, the "Law of the Splintered Paddle." Established by King Kamehameha in 1797, this rule provided for the basic rights of existence and personal security of "people both great and humble" and has been incorporated into the Hawaiian State Constitution. This concept continues to impact the interpretation of many Hawaiian rights.
Post-graduation employment rates are somewhat low compared to many mainland law schools, but fortunately, tuition is also significantly lower (for residents) than many comparable schools. The lower employment rates are perhaps to be expected, given that the little island state naturally has fewer opportunities than many other locations.
Whether it takes time to find work because jobs are few or graduating students are taking time to "hang loose" and surf is unclear. But one reassuring fact is the U.S. World and News Report's finding that graduates of U.H. have less debt than alumni of any other law school in the country.
Not only is U.H.'s law program affordable, but its jurist-in-residence programs also attract some of the most respected legal thinkers in the world. The U.S. Supreme Court Jurists-in-Residence Program hosts a visiting U.S. Supreme Court Justice roughly every other year. It provides unique opportunities for its students to hear seminars and take courses with these giants of American jurisprudence.
The school also hosts the Bright International Jurist-in-Residence Program, which brings prominent international jurists to lecture and teach. Former Bright Jurists-in-Residence include judges from foreign Supreme Courts and the President of the International Court of Justice.
More Tips for Law School and Beyond
Your journey through law school and into legal practice involves a number of important decisions. The more you know about your options, the more profitable and satisfying the results will be. Peruse FindLaw for Law Students to find articles covering topics ranging from succeeding at law school, to passing the bar and finding your first job.