Law School lauded for offering 'unique joint degree programs'

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Sep 9, 2014

Law Professor Melody MacKenzie
Law Professor Melody MacKenzie

The Law School on the campus of UH Mānoa has been singled out for its diversity of programming in an article about unique joint degree programs in the fall 2014 issue of Prelaw Magazine.

The William S. Richardson School of Law was among 20 U.S. law schools cited as having one of the "most unique joint degree programs," with specific reference to its focus on the study of law and Hawaiian Studies.

Richardson’s Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law is unique in the country for its focus on Hawaiian and indigenous practices through both a cultural and legal lens.

Along with a law degree, Richardson students can obtain a Native Hawaiian Law Certificate upon graduation that establishes their credentials in indigenous law.

The Center was established at the Law School in 2005 through a Native Hawaiian Education Act grant. Director Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, ’76, was in the Law School’s inaugural graduating class. She is the former executive director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, a public interest law firm advocating for the Native Hawaiian community.  Also, she is the president of the Native Hawaiian Bar Association, which she helped establish in 1992.

Describing the Law School as “groundbreaking," she added that it "provides our students with the legal principles to advance the rights of indigenous and Pacific peoples, and it also increases knowledge and protection of customary practices and values.”

Dean Avi Soifer said this new recognition for the Law School is yet another example of Richardson’s outreach into the community and its reflection of Hawaiian cultural values, as well as its well known embrace of diversity.

The Prelaw Magazine article stated, “We narrowed our list down to the programs that were the most interesting to show the breadth of joint degree offerings.” But it also noted that there is a “growing trend” to offer JD as well as LLM – Masters of Law – degree programs. At Richardson, candidates for the LLM degree program, begun in 2003, have come from more than 40 different countries.

Prelaw Magazine reaches more than 60,000 prospective law students at 350 universities across the country, and is one of the major resources used by students interested in pursuing a legal education.

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