The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Law School and its Dean have been featured in two stories in the latest Prelawmagazine – with one story exploring the importance of diversity in education, and the other stressing the value of experiential learning through clinics.
The William S. Richardson School of Law earned high marks in each category – coming in 6th in the nation for its clinical programs, in which students get hands-on experience dealing with clients.
And, with the inclusion of an interview with Dean Avi Soifer, the article on diversity – titled “Should Law Schools Be Colorblind?’- points out that UH Mānoa Law School has earned top rankings in the area of diversity over the last two years.
The story notes that affirmative action has been under attack, and asks the question “What is diversity, particularly today?” Then it offers some new definitions, pondering whether in addition to racial, cultural, and gender diversity, the definition should be expanded to include such values as socio-economic and life experience diversity.
In highlighting UH Mānoa Law School as one of America’s “Success Stories,” the article notes that UH has managed to fine-tune the definitions, but also has the good fortune of being located in the state with the most diverse population in the country. Year after year the School’s Admissions team brings together unique entering classes with students who truly reflect what diversity means in today’s world.
“The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa – William S. Richardson School of Law – has been lauded as being one of the nation’s more diverse law schools,” the story notes. “In 2012, it finished fifth in The National Jurist ranking, and it finished first in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report’s tally.”
The article goes on to quote Dean Soifer: “Our students graduate with many cultural influences. In the world, wherever they may end up, they can adjust more easily.”
Soifer also noted that Richardson Law School provides significant outreach to the state’s Native Hawaiian population to offer opportunities for legal education to those whose roots are deep in Hawai‘i.
When the Law School was founded 40 years ago, this was one of the goals envisioned by Chief Justice Richardson – to provide a first-rate legal education to Hawai’i residents who often before had been passed over by law schools on the continent, or who found it impossible to afford the cost. Richardson Law School remains one of the most reasonably priced in the nation.
As the state’s only law school, the majority of its enrollees continue to come from the Islands. In 2012, for instance, more than 75 percent of the students in the fall class were from Hawai‘i, and that cohort included more than a dozen different racial backgrounds.
In its story on clinical programs, the magazine established a “Top 20” list by dividing the total number of full-time law students into the number of clinics available. Using that rubric, Richardson ranked just a few notches behind Yale Law School, which ranked first, but significantly above such well-known law schools as Cornell, Berkeley, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago.
The article pointed out that UH Mānoa Law School had 130 clinical course openings in 2013, and a fulltime enrollment of 261 students. The article calculated that this gave Richardson students a 49.8 percent opportunity to participate in a clinic.
According to Prelaw Magazine, clinics “allow students to get practical experience, which helps make them more practice-ready upon graduation.”
The article also noted that while clinical opportunities are costly for law schools to provide, especially in this time of falling enrollments, “The value they bring continues to make them popular.”