UH Law School continues to garner national recognition

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Apr 1, 2015

The Richardson Law School's Environmental Law Moot Court team.
The Richardson Law School's Environmental Law Moot Court team.

There’s more good news for the UH Law School. The William S. Richardson School of Law at the UH Mānoa campus has been ranked fifth in the nation for the amount and quality of the practical skills training it offers students during their three years of legal study.

In the latest issue of The National Jurist magazine, the UH Law School earned an “A+” among the 86 American Bar Association-accredited law schools evaluated in terms of practical training.

Practical skills training

Explained Dean Avi Soifer, “Our Law School has been a national leader in teaching practical professional skills for many years. There is now increased national emphasis on this important element of legal education, and it is certainly rewarding to be recognized as among the top five law schools for doing the important things so well that we have long been doing.”

The latest issue of National Jurist evaluated 86 ABA-accredited law schools to compute its new practical skills rankings. Elements measured included clinical programs, simulation courses, externships and additional programs such as pro bono service to the community.

“It is very nice to finish in the top five schools and to get this national recognition," said Soifer.  “Those who know our school, however, will not be at all surprised due to the depth of our practical skills offerings, talent of our faculty, and deep commitment of our students.”

In ranking the practical training offered by the nation’s top law schools, National Jurist looked at the number of opportunities that full-time students have to work in the field during their legal training. At Richardson, which has 10 clinics offering hands-on practical training and assists real clients under expert supervision, students are able to try out legal work long before they graduate.

“Many law schools continue to increase offerings, making practical training an integral part of the law school experience,” National Jurist stated. “While a lot talk about practical training, we honor the schools that deliver the goods.”

The rankings graded schools according to the percentage of full-time students in clinics, externships and simulation courses. They also added points for student participation in interscholastic skills competitions such as moot court tournaments, and for the amount of free legal assistance students provide to their communities.

Richardson was one of the first law schools in the nation to make pro bono service a graduation requirement. In fact, law students themselves asked for the requirement back in 1992, and the school set a minimum of 60 pro bono hours, yet students continue to provide far more hours of free legal service.

Low law school student debt

Another recent survey disclosed that the UH Law School has the third lowest level of student law school indebtedness at graduation among all top tier law schools.

According to this analysis of recent U.S. News & World Report data, 2014 Richardson graduates carried an average debt from law school of  $56,266. This relatively low debt was only higher than the debt borne by graduates of Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, with average debt of $54,203 and Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., with average debt of  $24,021. (The school with the highest debt among its graduates -- Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego -- had an average of $172,445 in student debt.)

Over the last few years, the high levels of debt incurred by students at all professional schools have been a persistent national concern.

Explained Cyrelle White, Richardson’s financial aid manager and counselor, “Our students are attracted by the great bargain we offer compared to other schools. They get an extremely high quality legal education at one of the lowest costs anywhere in the United States.”

High yield rate among accepted students

In another significant new ranking, Richardson Law School had the 7th highest “yield rate” among the nation’s Top Tier law schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. The yield rate is the percentage of accepted students who enroll in a particular school.

Dean Soifer pointed out that the warmth and camaraderie among students and faculty at Richardson make visiting students and new enrollees feel welcome immediately.

“We are very pleased that so many of our offers are accepted,” Soifer said. “Unlike some of our peers in legal education, Richardson has not had to lower our standards to fill the entering class.  We continue to be able to enroll very highly qualified students with great potential to be leaders in many different realms.”

The Law School now has a rolling admissions policy.  Applicants who take the June LSAT may still apply for admission for the entering class this coming Fall.

(Full caption) The Richardson Law School's Environmental Law Moot Court team did well at a recent competition at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.  From left are members Joanna Zeigler '15 and Lida Angier '15, Environmental Law Program Director David Forman, team member Derek Brow '16 and team assistant Emily Baskin '17.

For more information, visit: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/