law student at a podium
William S. Richardson School of Law student Alyssa-Marie Kau participating in a moot court experience in September 2016.

In a new survey by The National Jurist, the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has been named among the top American law schools in providing practical training for its students.

The spring 2017 issue of the magazine gives the UH law school an A- for providing an array of clinics and externships that offer hands-on training to law students.

Practical training is being emphasized nationally, and increasingly has become a required part of law school curricula. In 2015 the American Bar Association added a rule for accreditation that requires all students to complete six credit hours of practical training courses in order to graduate.

“Around the country, law school students are getting experience with clients and in courtrooms,” noted the article written by Katie Thisdell, managing editor for both National Jurist and preLaw magazines. “Students may work in clinics and externships. They may compete in moot court and practice trial skills. Or, they may participate in simulation courses, where they can practice their lawyering skills in a controlled setting.”

All of those activities have long been available to UH law students. For instance, the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawaiʻi provides training for law students interested in serving low-income or immigrant families as part of Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services.

Such practical training through the law school’s 10 clinical programs as well as its 12 institutes, centers and projects offer students exceptional real world experiences, says Dean Avi Soifer.

Explained Soifer, “For many years, our students have earned more credits for practical skills than the new ABA requirements mandate. We are particularly proud of the training our clinics and practical skills courses offer as they help shape Richardson lawyers, often while also directly serving our community.”

In fall 2015 through spring 2016 out of 212 second and third-year law students, there were:

  • 134 students participating in clinical courses
  • 139 students participating in simulation courses
  • 107 students doing externships

—By Beverly Creamer