For more information about this program, contact David M. Forman at (808) 956-5298 or by email.
Recognizing the challenges that Hawai‘i and the world face in maintaining an environmentally sustainable economy, the William S. Richardson School of Law has developed a vibrant and diverse Environmental Law Program (ELP). Since its inception in 1988, the ELP has been a leading specialty program at the Law School, and Richardson Law School is ranked among the top 25 schools in the nation for studying environmental law. In training future environmental lawyers, the ELP contributes to the advancement of environmental law doctrine and scholarship, and practice locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. For more detailed information visit the ELP website.
Education, Research, and Scholarship
The ELP offers a significant number of exciting and varied courses in environmental law and related fields. The cornerstone of the program, the Certificate in Environmental Law, recognizes the strong student interest in this area, the expertise of our faculty, and the diverse job opportunities in this dynamic field of law. In addition to coursework, opportunities for students to develop their real-world legal skills include our environmental law moot court teams, a wide variety of environmental law externships, pro bono projects, the Environmental Law Clinic, and summer jobs. The ELP’s core and adjunct faculty, students, alumni, and friends publish scholarship, deliver papers, and issue reports on a diverse range of Hawai’i’s environmental law, land use, Indigenous peoples, and other related law issues.
Excellence in Environmental Law
The ELP is nationally recognized and has over 195 graduates with certificates in environmental law; graduates are contributing to environmental law and policy in Hawai‘i and throughout the world. ELP students have worked for private law firms both in Hawai‘i and on the mainland, Hawai‘i government offices (such as the Office of the Attorney General and the Legislature), public interest law firms and organizations (ranging from Earthjustice to the Pacific Legal Foundation), federal agencies (including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard), Native Hawaiian interests (from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to an indigenous resource management organization on the mainland), and at all levels of the judiciary.
“The Environmental Law Program is a gem in our community. The talented faculty, staff, students, and alumni enrich our entire school and set a high bar for excellence.”
Camille A. Nelson, Dean and Professor of Law
Scholarship & Legal Resources
The Environmental Law Program’s core and adjunct faculty, students, alumni, and friends publish scholarship, deliver papers, and issue reports on a diverse range of Hawai’i’s environmental law, land use, indigenous peoples, and other related law issues.
‘OHELO is a project of ELP provided as a community service to the legal profession and the general public interested in Hawai‘i environmental law issues. The immediate goal of the site is to provide online “one stop shopping” for researchers, practitioners, the regulated community, and advocates, and to provide access to materials that are otherwise unavailable or difficult to locate. The long-term goal of this project is to enhance the quality of decision-making and participation in environmental law and policy in Hawai‘i by increasing and equalizing access to precedent and research tools for all sectors of our island community. Visit the ‘OHELO website for additional information.
Located in Room 207 on the second floor of the William S. Richardson School of Law, the ELP Library is a small but ever-growing collection of environment-related resources, ranging from textbooks, scholarly and practitioner publications to magazines and popular reading materials. Subjects include general environmental law, international environmental law, land, air, and water use, as well as Hawai‘i-specific issues.
The Environmental Law Clinic is a non-litigation, live-client clinic that provides direct legal services to rural and underserved communities in Hawai’i that focuses on environmental issues. Over the course of the semester, students work with clients to develop and implement legal strategies on actual legal issues relating to Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources with an emphasis on community involvement.
The ELP proudly sponsors colloquia that feature experts who speak on a variety of topics that relate to their work in the environment and natural resource fields. The ELP hopes to organize colloquia that touch on a variety of pertinent topics to inform students, faculty, and the wider community in order to facilitate informed discussion and conversation.
Certificates & Requirements
Environmental Law Certificate
Environmental Law certificate candidates must fulfill course and procedural requirements before being awarded a Certificate upon graduation. The students are advised to consult with the ELP director and faculty during their 2L and 3L years to ensure they are on track to complete the certificate requirements. Certificate candidates need to submit the completed certificate form to the ELP director no later than 30 days before graduation.
ELP student Naima Fifita ’23 recently co-moderated a panel as part of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 24-hour worldwide celebration.
A Pre-Commencement Reception honored certificate recipients for both KHA and ELP as well as LLM graduates with Specializations in Environmental Law.
After four years of recovery, Ka Huli Ao and the Environmental and Native Hawaiian Law Clinics help secure water for kalo farmers in Waiʻoli.
ELP continued its semester-long series on emerging climate justice and resiliency issues.
The University of Hawaiʻi Office of Sustainability hosted “Student Perspectives on The Climate Crisis,” to kick off its Earth Month 2022 series of events.
The Law School’s Evening Part Time (EPT) Program invited the Environmental Law Program (ELP) to speak about efforts to prepare students for the practice of environmental law in Hawai‘i and beyond.