Richardson Among Best Law Schools for Practical Training, Environmental Law

Interior of courtroom

The William S. Richardson School of Law earned an A- rating as one of the nation’s top law schools for practical training in the latest issue of preLaw magazine. In the same spring 2022 issue, Richardson also ranked among top law schools for environmental law.

The publication’s “Best Schools for Practical Training” ranks a total of 70 of the nation’s top law schools known for producing practice-ready attorneys. Richardson’s rating has risen to A- this year from its B+ rating a year ago.

The largest weighted metrics in ranking methodology went to clinics, along with externships and simulation courses. Remaining factors considered included moot court, pro bono hours, and additional practical training such as legal writing.

Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic Director John Egan cites the authentic experience for students in advocating for justice. He said, “Our Clinical Program provides law students with real life practice experiences, from client interviewing to brief-writing to in-court appearances representing actual clients. When we are able to succeed with a case, as some of our recent students have done with some challenging asylum cases, the feeling of accomplishment goes well beyond the grade points earned.”

Exterior of the clinical building
Clinical Building

Students at Richardson receive a variety of experiences that enrich their practical training, with externships as extensions of their law school education, and active participation with the community.

Trisha Y. Nakamura, Director of Career Services and Professional Development, said, “Practical training is abundant at Richardson. Our Clinic, Externship, and Pro Bono Programs are rich with diverse opportunities ranging from discussing a bench memo with a judge to interviewing clients on a neighbor island and representing them in court.”

She also notes the participation with the local community in Hawaii, which allows for both structured and organic relationships with downtown practitioners, judges, and legal nonprofits, offering a wealth of skills-based learning on a variety of subject areas.

Associate Dean of 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 numerous clinical and other practical experiences, we are teaching the skills that ensure our mission of community service is continuously achieved.”

Richardson also ranked among the top 56 schools in the nation for environmental law, receiving an A rating.

“Although it is gratifying to receive an A grade,” said Environmental Law Program (ELP) Director David Forman, “We are most proud of the fact that we have continued to develop critical skills for students seeking to practice environmental law in the fields of public interest, public service and private practice, including our efforts to engage students in international environmental negotiations during a critical decade of Earth’s history.”

The Environmental Law Program at Richardson celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and continues to be recognized for its diverse, rich education and international participation.

Faculty and students from Richardson and the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology traveled to Glasgow as part of an official observer delegation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) last fall. Richardson students and faculty have also partnered with local taro farmers to help secure their water access.

The environmental law program has been recognized annually by multiple publications, including U.S. News & World Report. Prelaw magazine also ranked Richardson earlier this year for its excellent diversity and international law programs.