More in JD (Juris Doctor) Program:
JD Full Time Program
At Richardson Law School, we are committed to learning as a collaborative enterprise. Our program challenges students to grow intellectually and professionally. Faculty members engage with students as partners as well as serve as sources of knowledge. A foremost concern of the Law School is to provide assistance in “learning how to learn.” Students prepare for a challenging and rewarding professional life equipped with skills in legal counseling, advocacy, and decision-making. Students are encouraged to study law and legal institutions as integral parts of larger social, political-economic, and ecological systems.
The Law School curriculum is rich and diverse. Classroom experiences include vigorous discussion in traditional Socratic classroom settings, as well as lectures, seminars, informal small group discussions, and individually supervised field and library research projects. Writing skills are honed in small groups and on a one-to-one basis with experienced faculty and practitioners. Students participate in experiential clinical courses that provide a wide array of opportunities including real courtroom experience, simulation clinics and externship opportunities. All students in the full-time Juris Doctor (JD) program must enroll for at least 12 credits during the three-year program. A normal semester course load is 14 to 16 credit hours. Through rigorous, stimulating, and challenging study, the Law School’s graduates are well-prepared to work in any jurisdiction in the country.
Our Juris Doctor program provides degree candidates with the opportunity to equip themselves for active and effective participation as professionals in legal counseling, advocacy and decision-making. Whether the context be in a courtroom or at a legislative hearing, attorney’s office, corporate boardroom, state agency, federal commission, community center or international conference table, our graduates are prepared. Students are encouraged to study law and legal institutions as integral parts of larger social, political-economic, and ecological systems.
Techniques of instruction include the traditional “Socratic method” (in which an instructor rigorously questions individual students in a large group setting), lectures, problem-based learning, seminars, informal small group discussions, individually supervised field and library research projects, and a variety of experiential methods. “Clinical” components, in the form of real or simulated lawyers’ tasks, are an essential part of the program. Small-group work, especially in the first year, is organized around hypothetical client problems. Second- and third-year small-group seminars and clinical workshops permit students to develop lawyering skills in areas of their practice interests.
The Law School is committed to the view that learning is an enterprise in which members of the faculty should function as facilitating participants as well as sources of knowledge. Accordingly, students are expected to develop their own legal skills and abilities and to clarify their values. Successful performance of those tasks depends on the inclination and ability to learn continuously and on one’s own. Therefore, a foremost concern of the school is to provide assistance in “learning how to learn.”
First-year students build a strong foundation of core knowledge and fundamental skills as they learn to analyze legal problems. In a typical fall semester, full-time first-year students take the following courses: LAW 516 Civil Procedure I (3 credit hours); LAW 506 Contracts (4 credit hours); LAW 522 Torts (4 credit hours); and LAW 504 Lawyering Fundamentals I (3 credit hours). In addition to the above courses, Ulu Lehua Scholars in the Fall will take LWUL 501 American Legal Systems (1 credit hour).
In the typical spring semester, full-time first-year students take the following courses: LAW 517 Civil Procedure II (3 credit hours); LAW 505 Lawyering Fundamentals II (2 credit hours); LAW 518 Real Property I (4 credit hours); LAW 513 Criminal Law (4 credit hours); and LWLR 501 Legal Research (2 credit hours).
The second and third year experience is flexible, allowing each student to design a course of study specifically tailored to her or his interests and career goals. Students may choose from a broad array of elective courses, workshops, and clinics.
Writing skills are sharpened in a required Second Year Seminar in which students engage in an in-depth exploration of a legal topic to produce a scholarly paper. Examples of seminar topics include: Family Law, Native Hawaiian Rights, Property, Labor Law, Electronic Commerce, Race, Culture and Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, and Environmental Law.
Second- and third-year students may also choose to pursue certificates within the Law School or a dual degree or graduate certificate in such areas as Business, Asian Studies, and Public Policy within the University.
By the time our students graduate, they are in demand for jobs nationally and internationally. Many of our graduates secure prestigious judicial clerkships upon graduation.
STudent learning outcomes
The Law School is accredited by the American Bar Association and a member of the Association of American Law Schools. In compliance with ABA Standard 301(a) for the Objectives of Program of Legal Education, the Law School strives to “maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares its students upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.” In accordance with ABA Standard 301(b), the Law School has established and publishes the following learning outcomes designed to achieve these objectives.
Students admitted to the J.D. program must have an undergraduate degree, among other requirements. In Hawaiʻi, and nearly every other state, a J.D. degree from an accredited school is essential to become a licensed attorney. The Law School necessarily focuses substantial attention on those learning objectives aimed at preparation to pass the bar exam and to practice law ethically and effectively. The school also emphasizes areas of law of importance to Hawaiʻi and to the school’s mission.
- Understand ethical responsibilities as representatives of clients, officers of the court, and public citizens responsible for the quality and availability of justice;
- Obtain basic education through a curriculum that develops:
- understanding of the theory, philosophy, role, and ramifications of the law and its institutions;
- proficiency in legal analysis, reasoning, problem solving; oral and written communication; legal research;
- fundamental professional practices necessary to participate effectively in the legal profession;
- mastery of substantive law regarded as necessary to effective and responsible participation in the legal profession through a completion of a curriculum of required and elective study;
- Understand the law as a public profession calling for performance of Pro Bono legal services;
- Promote the development of students’ critical thinking skills and other intellectual tools that will serve their life-long learning needs, and enable them to provide leadership in law through contributions in research and practice;
- Understand and respect law as a social institution in the context of a diverse state with a unique and important history; and
- Recognize our global connectedness, especially to the Asia and Pacific regions.
In the study of law, I will conscientiously prepare myself;
To advance the interests of those I serve before my own,
To approach my responsibilities and colleagues with integrity, professionalism, and civility,
To guard zealously legal, civil and human rights which are the birthright of all people,
And above all, to endeavor always to seek justice.
This I do pledge.
LAW STUDENT PLEDGE
The full-time JD program requires students to enroll for at least 12 credits per semester during the three-year program (a normal semester course load can range from 14 to 16 credit hours.
Each year, the Admissions Committee selects up to twelve full-time students from the entering class to join the Ulu Lehua Program. These students have overcome adversity and demonstrated their academic potential, leadership ability, and commitment to social justice.
Certificates & Concentrations
Richardson law students have the option to build subject knowledge and relevant skills through the pursuit of certificates or dual degrees during their course of study.
The school offers robust programs in the areas of Environmental Law, Native Hawaiian Law, Pacific-Asian Legal Studies, and International Law.
Dual Degree Programs
At Richardson, law students may earn another graduate degree or certificate in any degree program offered at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Some of the more popular dual degrees include JD/MBA with Shidler College of Business and the JD/MSW with Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.
Students can also choose a concentration in Business Law if this is an area that meets their interest.
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Trisha Y. Nakamura
Associate Dean for Student Services
The ratio of student to faculty members is 8:1. Faculty members engage with students as partners as well as serve as sources of knowledge. A foremost concern of the Law School is to provide assistance in “learning how to learn.”