$1 million committed to build new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center at UH Law School

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Dec 14, 2015

Mark Davis
Mark Davis
Mike Livingston
Mike Livingston
Group 70 rendering of the new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center.
Group 70 rendering of the new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center.

The William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa has received a commitment for a $1 million leadership gift from one of the state’s top law firms, Davis Levin Livingston, to launch private fundraising efforts for a new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center.

After a decade of dreaming and planning, the $7 million overall project was approved by the state Legislature and UH Board of Regents, and final design work is almost completed for the community legal outreach center.

It has already drawn intense interest from Hawai‘i’s legal community, as evidenced by today’s announcement.  This leadership gift launches private fund-raising efforts for the new facility to leverage existing state and Law School funding.

The Advocacy and Trial Practice Center will be the academic core of the UH Law School’s multiple efforts to teach trial practice and advocacy skills and to advocate for some of the state’s most vulnerable people through a rich array of clinics.

”We are incredibly grateful to Mark Davis and Mike Livingston, and the Davis Levin Livingston firm, for their support,” stated UH President David Lassner. “It is critical that we diversify and expand our funding sources, including through philanthropy. This gift is another testament to the growing confidence of the community in the excellence of Hawaiʻi’s university.”

Said Mark Davis, founding partner of Davis Levin Livingston, “Clinical and trial advocacy education is the life blood of a lawyer’s training in the adversary system. The Richardson School of Law has developed an enormous depth in the opportunities it offers to law students to develop trial skills and serve the public interest in pro bono pursuits.  Now, with the new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center, as an addition to physical plant of the Law School, UH is destined to be one of the leading centers for clinical education in the country.  Our firm is excited to be part of this effort that will preserve and improve the quality of justice our graduates will deliver to our community.”

In 2013 the state Legislature approved a $7 million package for the Center that included $3.5 million in general obligation bonds backed by the state, and authorization for $3.5 million in revenue bonds to be backed by the Law School’s own funding, through a combination of tuition and philanthropy.

The design calls for a two-story building on the Ewa side of the existing William S. Richardson School of Law on the UH Mānoa campus. It will provide dedicated professional training facilities for law students and faculty who serve, one-on-one, some of the people in Hawai’i who most need skillful legal assistance while at the same time teaching advocacy and trial practice skills.

Law School Dean Avi Soifer noted that the new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center recognizes the Law School’s longstanding excellence in clinical education and the importance of creating a center of excellence for trial advocacy education.  Said Dean Soifer, “The new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center will soon become a reality, in large measure thanks to the vision and generosity of Mark Davis and Michael Livingston and the Davis Levin Livingston Foundation. They are providing generous leadership with a catalyzing gift of $1 million. Mark and Mike recognize the importance of trial lawyer education and they taught and inspired our students directly for many years. With their help and that of many other leading lawyers and judges, the Richardson Law School is recognized as one of the leading law schools in the country for clinical and trial advocacy education and public service.”

Added Associate Law Dean Denise Antolini, “This will be a new state-of-the-art home for clinical programs and for practical legal training for our law students who are eager to contribute to the community.  We started work on the Master Plan for Law School expansion back in 2004, with the first phase of planning approved and funded by the legislature in 2006.  We are fortunate that the Legislature supported this vital part of the Master Plan and we are greatly encouraged by the generous support of the Davis Levin Livingston Foundation.  This exciting project dedicated to clinical education and trial advocacy training will be constructed in 2016-17.”

The Law School recently was singled out nationally for its high quality and innovative clinics that provide public service while offering students a chance to flex their legal muscles by working with real clients.

The new Advocacy and Trial Practice Center also supports the Law School’s ongoing commitment to pro bono activities. As part of the Law School curriculum, students are required to provide 60 pro bono (free) hours of legal service.  Richardson was one of the first law school’s in the nation to require pro bono service as a graduation requirement and it certainly was the first -- and probably still is the only law school -- to have the requirement requested by students. 

“Our school already serves many of the state’s individuals who are most in need of legal help,” said Soifer, “and this new clinic and trial practice center will help us focus our efforts and provide even greater reach while at the same time fulfilling an important academic objective as we train skilled advocates who are imbued with the vision of service to our community. That was key to the founding of our Law School by Chief Justice William S. Richardson and his allies.”

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.

The Advocacy and Trial Practice Center will include space for two large multi-purpose and flexible conference and meeting rooms, four interview rooms, three work preparation zones and a number of offices. In keeping with the overall design and ambience of the Law School, it will provide a very practical design in keeping with the open, collegial plan of the Law School.

The dedicated clinical space also will assist the Law School with maintaining national accreditation standards, which are increasingly focused on practical legal training skills.


Davis Levin Livingston was founded in 1980.  The founding partners, Mark Davis and Mike Livingston, both came from civil rights and public interest backgrounds. The firm does exclusively trial work, mostly from the Plaintiffs’ side and continues to actively handle civil rights and public interest cases.  In recent years the lawyers at the firm formed the Davis Levin Livingston Charitable Foundation which receives a portion of the firm’s profits every year to support access to justice issues and other charitable pursuits. The Foundation underwrites the Davis Levin First Amendment Conference.  Both Mr. Davis and Mr. Livingston teach at the Richardson School of Law and have been active in the law school’s development. The firm’s lawyers include Loretta Sheehan, Matthew Winter, Clare Connors, Thomas Otake, Erin Davis and Anne Williams.

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