The William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is internationally known for environmental law and Pacific and Asian legal studies, to name a few. Fully accredited by the American Bar Association since 1982, the UH law school is now a highly coveted destination for foreign lawyers interested in a masters of laws, or LLM program.
“We thought it would primarily be Asia and Pacific, which are great strengths of this law school, probably more than any other law school,” said UH law school dean Avi Soifer. “But it turns out that sometimes because of that Asian Pacific strength, we get people from Europe, a lot of people from Europe, from South America, really from all over the world.”
The one-year program provides foreign law graduates with a broad understanding of U.S. and international legal issues and features several areas of focus ranging from environmental to criminal to international business law.
With the assistance of experienced advisors, students design their curriculum and course load.
“For me it’s to explore environmental law in Hawaiʻi and the U.S,” said LLM student Julie Suen, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada. “I have courses this semester like domestic ocean law and international ocean law, administrative law.”
The law professors and instructors at UH Mānoa are well regarded in their respective areas of expertise.
“All the teachers are highly motivated and very specialized in their own fields,” said LLM student Katharina Hohmann of Germany. “There is always an open door if we have any problems.”
“The faculty members are so knowledgeable,” added Suen. “They’re very approachable.”
Unlike many law schools in the United States, LLM students take the same classes as the rest of the UH law school students.
“This law school is known to be one of the most diverse in the U.S. and it is great to be surrounded by so many people from different backgrounds,” remarked Suen. “I feel like I can really belong and be accepted in a place like this.”
“It’s awesome,” said Hohmann. “It’s totally different than in Germany. All the people here are so open minded.”
LLM students are more than just accepted. They’re valued because of the different perspectives they bring to the classrooms.
“There is nothing like having the comparative insight of it doesn’t have to be the way we do it,” said Soifer. “So you learn that by having LLM students in your classes.”
Then there is the fact that LLM students get to go to school in Hawaiʻi.
“The people here are so friendly,” said Suen. “It’s got a really good culture here and look at our surroundings. You know, the campus is beautiful, the law school is beautiful, we had a class outside last semester.”
“You have the beaches, the mountains, on the other hand you have downtown where also is the financial district,” said Hohmann.
An LLM degree from UH can be a great foundation for students who want to pursue a degree in law or go ahead and take the bar exam in the states in the U.S. where it is allowed, such as New York, where a number of UH LLM students have taken and passed the bar.
Students from 49 different countries have earned their LLM certificate from UH since the program started in 2004.
“It has enriched it us as well as being a wonderful opportunity for students who are trained abroad to come here, learn about the American legal system and to be fully integrated into our law school,” said Soifer.
For more information, go to law.hawaii.edu.