University of Hawaii at Manoa-William S. Richardson School of Law

2515 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822-2350 | Google Map

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Founded 1973 | ABA Accredited 1982

The William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai'i is located at the foot of beautiful Manoa Valley, minutes from sandy beaches and lush rain forests, as well as from the economic and legal center of urban Honolulu. We offer an excellent academic program with professors committed to outstanding teaching, scholarship, and community service. Our school is particularly noted for its collegial atmosphere, accessible faculty, and extraordinary cultural and ethnic diversity.

Placement after graduation is consistently very high. Our distinguished alumni serve as leaders in Hawai'i, as well as in national and international arenas. We are recognized particularly for our programs in environmental law, Native Hawaiian law, and international law with an Asian and Pacific focus. The William S. Richardson School of Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the American Association of Law Schools.

We offer a three-year, full-time JD program and an evening, part-time JD program. Law students may earn certificates in Environmental Law, Pacific-Asian Legal Studies, and Native Hawaiian Law. Summer courses are available as well as specialized short courses with distinguished visiting faculty in January (J Term). Admission is determined by an applicant's academic achievement, aptitude for the study of law, and professional promise. Preference is given to residents of Hawai'i and to nonresidents with strong ties to, or special interest in, Hawai'i, the Asia/Pacific region, environmental law, or other programs in the Law School. In addition to the LSAT and undergraduate GPA, factors considered for admission include academic work beyond the bachelor's degree, work experience, writing ability, community service, diversity, overcoming adversity, and unusual accomplishments.


Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Representative Lea Hong, Environmentalist Mari Matsuda, Activist Scholar Sabrina McKenna , Hawai’i Supreme Court Justice John D. Waihee III, Former Governor of Hawaii

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Elisabeth Steele Hutchison


"Deciding when to apply to law school is a little like deciding when to show up at a ‘party.’" - Elisabeth Steele Hutchison - Director of Admissions & Special Projects, U Hawai'i Law School

November 04, 2015 \ Elisabeth Steele Hutchison is the Director of Admissions at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and law degree from the Yale Law School. Before moving to Hawai’i, Elisabeth was Special Assistant to Director James Lee Witt of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She held several positions in the Clinton-Gore White House, including Director of Special Projects in the Office of Cabinet Affairs and Legislative Assistant to the Vice President. In addition to her responsibilities at the William S. Richardson School of Law, Elisabeth teaches courses about gender and law in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

AD Thanks so much for your time, Elisabeth. Before we begin, though, I have to ask you: is that really a wave I hear breaking in the background? Wait a minute, are you at the beach right now?!?!? I must say that I find those seagulls to be very distracting!
EH Ha, I wish! That’s just my Brookstone white noise maker. It’s set to “Ocean Surf.” Sometimes I forget it’s on in my office when I put my phone on speaker. Sorry about that!
AD Thank goodness. I was starting to get a little depressed as my seasonal effective disorder kicks in! I’m actually staring out my window into a gray fall day in New England, I can’t imagine what the weather is like in Hawai’i right now. Make me jealous: what do you see when you look out your window right now?
EH Sure. I’ll email you a picture. Here you go:

University of Hawaii School of Law
AD Seriously!?!? C’mon! What are you trying to do to me!
EH I'm sorry -- I know how you feel. I used to live in Connecticut.
AD I noticed. According to your bio, you graduated from Yale Law School in 2003 so you know how hard law school can be. The nice thing about the dreary New Haven winters is that the weather is very conducive to studying. I would imagine that going to law school in Hawai’i can be difficult given all of the distractions. How do your students maintain their focus? Is the library a windowless, cinder block structure?
EH [Laughing] Not at all! Law school is challenging. And our law students are not so different than those on the Mainland in this respect. They have tons to do and just as many distractions – they may just be a bit different. Instead of completing their Legal Research and Writing memo, our students have to deal with the temptation of the surf and the sand.

The clear benefit of the weather in Hawai’i is that despite the urge to be outside, because it is nice every day, you don’t feel like you are missing something by staying inside to finish a memo or prepare for class. I can almost guarantee that the day after the brief is due is going to be just as beautiful as the day before it is due. We’re very lucky that way.

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