Artist rendering of the new law school Clinical Building

The construction contract for the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law’s new Clinical Building was awarded to F&H Construction on August 4, 2016. The award will enable construction to begin approximately October 1, 2016 on the $7.372 million Clinical Building that will provide essential new space for programs that train law students who serve real community clients.

“We are extremely pleased that this much-needed and long-awaited project is actually underway,” said Dean Avi Soifer. “Our law school is uniquely involved with, and committed to, the community. This Clinical Building gives us vital professional space for our students to be prepared for trial practice and advocacy. Additionally, it is significant for reaccreditation and also helps us remain on par with other law schools around the country that have recently upgraded their facilities.”

The law school has long needed additional space for its clinical programs that offer hands-on training for law students working with real clients. The programs are popular with students, and have been singled out nationally for their high quality and innovation. Accreditation standards for law schools nationally are increasingly focusing on practical legal training skills.

Those who already receive law student help include the elderly, veterans, troubled and incarcerated youth, and families living at or near poverty levels. The Elder Law Clinic alone has provided more than 10,000 hours of free legal help to seniors in the more than 25 years since it moved from the Legal Aid Society to the law school under the leadership of Professor James Pietsch. Recently the law school has increased its focus on directly serving the legal needs of veterans.

New building, high standards

The building will be built in a portion of the existing law school parking lot, an area designated in 2008 for expansion in the UH Mānoa Long-Range Development Plan, and will be attached to the current law school building by a second-floor bridge. 

F&H Construction, a Maui company that is part of a California firm, offered the winning bid. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place in late September, and construction is expected to be completed by July 2017. The building design has already qualified at the LEED Silver level as a green building and may attain Gold status. 

“We’re really excited about this project going forward,” said Associate Dean Denise Antolini, who has headed the project for the law school since 2003. “The design process with Group 70 International, led by architects Charles Kaneshiro and Chris Hong, has been very successful.

“Adding space to the already cramped law school buildings built in 1982 is long overdue, and has been a dream for more than a decade,” added Antolini. “It will enable student clinics to serve an even broader segment of at-risk populations in the community. Already our law school’s clinical programs have provided thousands of free hours of legal assistance to people most in need.”

Read more about the new Clinical Building at the law school website.

—By Beverly Creamer