Faculty & Staff




Emeritus Professor of Law
Regents’ Medalist for Excellence in Teaching
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (2011-2019)


AB, Princeton University, 1982
MPP, University of California, Berkeley, 1985
JD, University of California, Berkeley, 1986


Denise Antolini is an emeritus professor and served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from August 2011 to December 2019.  She joined the Law School faculty in 1996 and directed the nationally recognized Environmental Law Program for several years.  Since 2006, she spearheaded the Law School Building Excellence Project that led to completion of the construction project for the $9.3 million Clinical Building in 2019.

She served as a State Water Commissioner and on the Nominating Committee, the inaugural Chair of the Honolulu City Council’s Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission, Chair of the State Environmental Council, and Chair of the Hawai`i State Bar Association’s Natural Resources Section.  Her courses have included torts, environmental law, environmental litigation, domestic ocean and coastal law, IUCN motions seminars, and legal writing.

She received the 2006 University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents’ Excellence in Teaching Medal.  She served as Chair of the American Association of Law School’s Environmental Law Section and, from 2005 until 2008, was on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Environmental Law.  Dean Antolini was selected by Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers as the 2002 recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award.  In 2003-2004, she served as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Environmental Studies at the Politecnico in Torino, Italy.

In 2016, she was appointed as Deputy Chair of the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  She was elected to the inaugural Executive Committee of the IUCN U.S. National Committee in 2017 and co-coordinates the Hawaiʻi Hui of IUCN members.  She was appointed as the Elections Officer for the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France (June 2020).

Dean Antolini graduated from Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, California in 1978; Princeton University in 1982; obtained a Masters in Public Policy at UC Berkeley (1985) and concurrently a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley in 1986, where she was editor-in-chief of Ecology Law Quarterly. After a two-year federal district court clerkship in Washington, D.C., she spent eight years practicing public interest law with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice) in Seattle and Honolulu, serving as Managing Attorney of the Honolulu office from 1994 until 1996.  Dean Antolini litigated several major citizen suit environmental cases involving coastal pollution, water rights, endangered species, environmental impact statements, and Native Hawaiian rights.

Dean Antolini lives on Oʻahu’s rural North Shore in the ahupuaʻa of Pūpūkea.  She is a founding and current member of the North Shore Community Land Trust (advisory board), Save Waimea Valley Coalition, Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea (President, 2005-present), and the Save Sharks Cove Alliance.


  • The Moon Court’s Environmental Review Jurisprudence: Throwing Open the Courthouse Doors for Beneficial Public Participation, 33 Haw. L. Rev. 581 (2011). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Drowning Hawai`i: Island Resiliency and Climate Changein Bill Rodgers & Michael Robinson-Dorn, Climate Change Reader (Carolina Academic Press 2011).
  • Karl Kim, Denise Antolini, Peter Rappa, Scott Glenn & Nicole Lowen, Final Report to the Legislature on Hawai‘i’s Environmental Review System (Oct. 2010). maui-tomorrow.org | ScholarSpace
  • National Park Law in the U.S.: Conservation and Conflict, 33 Wm & Mary Envt’l L. Pol’y Rev. 851 (2009). HeinOnlineScholarSpace
  • Attacking Bananas and Defending Environmental Common Law, 58 Case Western L. Rev.  663  (2008). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Creative Common Law Strategies for Protecting the Environment (Environmental Law Institute 2007) (Cliff Rechtschaffen & Denise Antolini, Eds.). SSRN
  • Marine Reserves in Hawai‘i: A New Call for Community Stewardship, 19 Nat. Res. & Envt.  36 (Summer 2004). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Punitive Damages in Rhetoric and Reality: An Integrated Empirical Analysis of Punitive Damages Judgments in Hawaii, 1985-2001, 20 U. Va. J. Law & Pol.143 (2004). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Modernizing Public Nuisance: Solving the Paradox of the Special Injury Rule, 28 Ecology L. Q. 755 (2001). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Water Rights and Responsibilities in the 21st Century:  A Foreword to the Proceedings of the 2001 Symposium on Managing Hawai‘i’s Public Trust Doctrine, 24 Haw. L. Rev. 1 (2001). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Editor, Proceedings of the 2001 Symposium on Managing Hawai‘i’s Public Trust Doctrine, 24 Haw. L. Rev. 21 (2001). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Finding an Environmental Lawyer and Forming a Non-Profit Organization, in From the Ground Up: A Handbook for Community-Based Land Use Planning, American Planning Association Hawai`i Chapter, Honolulu, Hawai`i (Fall 1999).
  • A Tribute to Richard S. Miller: Hawai‘i’s Kahuna of Torts, 19 Haw. L. Rev. ix (1997). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
portrait photo


Phone: (808) 956-0624
Fax: (808) 956-5569



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