Incubator project will help attorneys who offer legal services to clients with limited resources

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Jan 19, 2016

A new “legal incubator” has been launched by the UH Law School, in partnership with the Legal Aid Society and Volunteer Legal Services Hawai’i, to help recent graduates and other lawyers who seek to support themselves while they offer low-cost or free legal services to clients with limited resources.

The legal incubator project – tentatively named Hawai‘i Emerging Legal Practitioners or HELP – began training this month with the first cohort of lawyers interested in developing solo or small-firm practices who also are committed to providing access to legal services for low- and moderate-income residents.

HELP will provide stipends and mentoring to speed the development of startup firms for the many people with legal needs who otherwise would not have access to justice, but who need assistance with reduced fees in areas such as family law, trusts and estates, bankruptcy, and veterans’ assistance.

Six lawyers began the program with a “boot camp” at the Law School the weekend of January 16-17.

Participants will receive:

  • A stipend.
  • Practical skills training in legal areas of high client need.
  • Mentoring from experienced attorneys.
  • Reimbursement for reasonable malpractice insurance coverage costs.
  • Possible access to meeting room space for client meetings.
  • A referral network upon completion of the six-month training program.

“A key component in creating a viable law practice that will increase access to justice is understanding how to build a business that is successful and, at the same time, helps others,” said HELP leader Richardson Law Professor Daniel Barnett, who is also the Director of Legal Writing at the Law School. “To develop that understanding, HELP participants will provide low-cost and pro bono legal services to those in need. Through serving these clients, the participants will gain valuable experience to help develop their practices.”

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald shared ideas with the group over the weekend, as did the following individuals: Michelle Acosta, Executive Director of Volunteer Legal Services Hawai‘i; Nalani Fujimori Kaina, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i; Judge Jeff Crabtree, Court of the First Circuit; Diane Haar of Hawai‘i Disability Legal Services; Gregory R. Kim of Convergent Law Group; Howard K.K. Luke of the Law Office of Howard K.K. Luke; Professor Wayne Tanna of Chaminade University; and Bradley R. Tamm of Shults & Tamm.

Said Law School Dean Avi Soifer, “It was inspirational to meet with this diverse group of pioneers for the program. Professor Barnett and District Court Judge (ret.) Leslie Hayashi deserve a great deal of credit for leading the way and getting this program off to a rousing start.”

Further information about the next cohort is available by contacting the HELP coordinator at 

Applicants and interested people may also go to the HELP website at:

For more information, visit: