UH Law School among the best for environmental law, hands-on training

The University of Hawaii in Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law was ranked among the nation’s top law schools, earning an A grade for environmental law and an A- grade for practical training in the latest issue of prelaw magazine.

the uh law school ranked among the top 56 schools in the nation for environmental law. the uh Environmental Law Program (ELP) celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and continues to be recognized for its diverse and rich education and international participation.

“While it is gratifying to receive an A grade, we take great pride in the fact that we have continued to develop essential skills for students seeking to practice environmental law in areas of public interest, of public service and private practice, including our efforts to engage students in international environmental negotiations during a critical decade in Earth’s history,” said ELP Director David Forman.

ELP has been recognized annually by numerous publications, including US News and World Report. Prelaw magazine also ranked the uh law school earlier this year to its excellent diversity and international law programs.

Train ready-to-practice lawyers

The magazine’s “Best Law Schools” ranks 70 of the nation’s top law schools known for producing practice-ready lawyers. the uh The law school’s grade rose to A- this year, compared to B+ a year ago for practical training.

The largest weighted measures in the ranking methodology went to clinics, along with internships and simulation courses. Other factors considered included the mock trial, pro bono hours, and additional hands-on training such as legal writing.

Director of the Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic John Egan cited the authentic experience of the students in the defense of justice. “Our clinical program provides law students with real-world, hands-on experiences, from client interviews to brief writing to court appearances representing real clients,” he said. “When we are able to succeed with a case, as some of our recent students have done with difficult asylum cases, the sense of accomplishment goes far beyond the grades earned.”

By providing our students with many clinical and practical experiences, we teach the skills that ensure our mission of community service is continually fulfilled.
—Nicolas Mirkay

uh Law students receive a variety of experiences that enrich their practical training, with internships as an extension of their legal education and active involvement with the community.

Trisha Y. Nakamura, Director of Career Services and Professional Development, said, “Hands-on training is abundant at Richardson. Our clinical, clerkship and pro bono programs are rich in diverse opportunities ranging from discussing a memorandum with a judge to interviewing clients on a nearby island and representing them in court.

Nakamura also noted involvement with the local community in Hawaii, which enables both structured and organic relationships with inner-city practitioners, judges, and nonprofit legal organizations, providing a wealth of skills-based learning in a variety of fields.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Nicholas Mirkay said, “Since its inception, the William S. Richardson School of Law has been dedicated to the service and betterment of the community. By providing our students with many clinical and other hands-on experiences, we teach the skills that ensure our mission of community service is continually fulfilled.

This ranking is an example of uh Mānoa’s goal of Improve student success (PDF), one of the four objectives identified in the Strategic Plan 2015-2025 (PDF), updated December 2020.

For more information, see the uh law school website.

Jon J. Epps