Law School Breaks Ground For Legal Assistance Building

The William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa began a new chapter in its history of service to students and the community with a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Clinical Building on September 30.

Nearly 200 celebrants gathered under a white tent next to the law school to celebrate the start of construction for the new $7.2 million Clinical Building. Attending the ceremony was Governor David Ige, UH President David Lassner, several Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justices, a number of state legislators, Board of Regents Chair Jan Sullivan and other members of the UH governing Board of Regents, as well as members of the law school community.

Providing free assistance to people in need

Architectural rendering of the Clinical Building.

More than a decade in the planning, the Clinical Building will provide space for training in trial skills and advocacy, as well as expanding the law school’s community outreach work through clinics and pro bono service by students.

As part of their graduation requirement, students must give 60 hours of free legal assistance in areas of their interest, with many students providing far more. Since this pro bono requirement began in the early 1990s—inspired by law students themselves—the school has provided more than 100,000 hours of free assistance to people in need, including the elderly, juvenile offenders, immigrants, veterans and families living in poverty.

“This is about real world practical training, which will make our students the best in the world,” said Gov. Ige. “I’m certain that CJ Richardson would be proud this space will be dedicated to programs to serve the most at-risk populations.”

Nearly 200 celebrants gathered to celebrate the start of construction for the William S. Richardson School of Law Clinical Building.

Rallying community support

Funding for the building was approved in 2013 by the State Legislature for a $7 million package of bonds that includes $3.5 million in general obligation bonds backed by the state, and authorization for $3.5 million in revenue bonds backed by the law school’s own funding, through a combination of tuition and philanthropy. Additional costs cover building contingencies, furniture and technology.

The law school has already raised more than $2 million in gifts as part of that commitment, with the Davis Levin Livingston law firm and its foundation committing a $1 million leadership gift.

“This building couldn’t be more important to the services we provide,” said Dean Avi Soifer. “We see this building as a building of people who help others and we train our students for that.”

For more on the groundbreaking, read the full story on the William S. Richardson School of Law website.