Construction work on new Clinical Building at UH Law School will begin in October

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Denise Antolini, (808) 554-7215
Associate Dean, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Aug 5, 2016

A Group 70 International rendering of the new Clinical Building at the UH Law School.
A Group 70 International rendering of the new Clinical Building at the UH Law School.

F&H Construction has been awarded the building contract for the William S. Richardson School of Law’s new Clinical Building at UH Mānoa. Construction will begin approximately October 1, 2016, on the $7.372 million Clinical Building that will provide essential new space for programs that train law students who serve real community clients.

“We are extremely pleased that this much-needed and long-awaited project is actually under way," said Dean Avi Soifer. "Our Law School is uniquely involved with, and committed to, the community. This Clinical Building gives us vital professional space for our students to be prepared for trial practice and advocacy.  Additionally, it is significant for reaccreditation and also helps us remain on par with other law schools around the country that have recently upgraded their facilities.”

F&H Construction, a Maui company that is part of a California firm, offered the winning bid. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place in late September, and construction is expected to be completed by July 2017.  The building design has already qualified at the LEED Silver level as a green building and may attain Gold status. 

“We’re really excited about this project going forward,” said Associate Dean Denise Antolini, who has headed the project for the Law School since 2003.  “The design process with Group 70 International, led by architects Charles Kaneshiro and Chris Hong, has been very successful.

“Adding space to the already cramped Law School buildings built in 1982 is long overdue, and has been a dream for more than a decade,” added Antolini. “It will enable student clinics to serve an even broader segment of at-risk populations in the community.  Already our Law School’s clinical programs have provided thousands of free hours of legal assistance to people most in need.”

The William S. Richardson School of Law has undertaken a major fund-raising campaign to supplement the legislative appropriation of $3.5 million in General Obligation bonds, matched by the Law School financing $3.5 million in Revenue Bonds.  The additional funding will provide teaching and conference spaces, as well as modern furnishings and audio-visual equipment.

A leadership gift of $1 million has already been committed by the Davis Levin Livingston Law Firm and Foundation.  Additional private funds offer opportunities to name special areas in the new building.

The building will be built in a portion of the existing Law School parking lot, an area designated in 2008 for expansion in the UH Mānoa Long-Range Development Plan, and will be attached to the current Law School building by a second-floor bridge. 

The Law School has long needed additional space for its clinical programs that offer hands-on training for law students working with real clients. The Richardson programs are popular with students, and have been singled out nationally for their high quality and innovation. Accreditation standards for law schools nationally are increasingly focusing on practical legal training skills.

Those who already receive law student help include the elderly, veterans, troubled and incarcerated youth, and families living at or near poverty levels. The Elder Law Clinic alone has provided more than 10,000 hours of free legal help to seniors in the more than 25 years since it moved from the Legal Aid Society to the Law School under the leadership of Professor James Pietsch. Recently the Law School has increased its focus on directly serving the legal needs of veterans.

The multitude of clinical courses also includes new programs in areas such as Family Law, Immigration Law and Small Business Assistance.  And while the Law School offers an unusually broad array of “experiential” or “practice ready” courses, including simulation, skills training, alternative dispute resolution, externships and pro bono opportunities, there has been no dedicated space for this practical learning, and no collaborative  spaces for practicing interviewing, preparing cases, learning how to manage a law office, and meeting with clients. 

The Law School also hosts innovative projects such as the Hawai‘i Innocence Project, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, Energy Justice Program, Culture & Jury Project, Jon Van Dyke Institute and Pacific-Asia Institute of Business Law.  All of these are still run out of faculty offices.

“Our school already serves many of the state’s individuals who are most in need of legal help,” notes Dean Soifer. “This new addition will help us focus and expand these efforts while fulfilling our crucial commitment to training skilled advocates imbued with our founding vision of service to our community.”

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