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High school students participating in the Discover Law program at the William S. Richardson School of Law

Fifty-two local high school students took part in a special Discover Law program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law on Friday, learning about the possibility of careers in law and the broad scope of justice in their own community.

Students from Waipahu and Roosevelt High Schools, along with teachers and counselors, spent the morning at the William S. Richardson School of Law learning about trial procedures; doing legal exercises, including one involving the delicate art of negotiation; and hearing from law students.

For Brent Micua, a 16-year-old junior from Waipahu High, which has a law and justice academy, it was a chance “to learn about the law and justice” from people who are teaching and practicing it every day.

“I watch a lot of cop shows like Criminal Minds and I think it’s pretty cool,” he said. He also thinks that someday—after he graduates and finishes college—he just might consider law school.

Those are the kinds of ideas Roosevelt teacher Ryan Darnell hopes are being fostered with this UH partnership. “By giving them a taste of law school it could help them decide what their major might be,” he said.

Learning about law first hand

James Diehl, a third-year law student graduating this coming May, is the president of SPOCE, Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education, an organization of Richardson law students that planned the program. Diehl said that simply having the opportunity to visit the UH law school and to hear from professors is a unique chance to explore potential careers as well as to be introduced to the only law school in the Pacific.

“For a lot of students this is the only way they’re going to be exposed to law at an early age,” said Diehl. “For a lot of students it’s an eye-opening experience.”

It’s also an experience that many of the UH law students wished they had had.

“I grew up in the public school system and I never learned even the most basic things about law that a citizen should understand,” said Lucy Brown. “From a civics standpoint, it should be taught and a face put to it. These students are intrigued, they’re figuring it out and problem-solving and it’s exciting to see them engaged and interested. That’s what we’re doing every day in law school.”

“No students at any other law school are as involved in the community as are Richardson students,” said law school dean Avi Soifer. “This program is just one good example of their willingness to commit time and effort to others, no matter how busy they are.”

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