Law School ranks high across the country in value and clinical education

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cynthia D. Quinn, (808) 956-7966
Associate Dean for Student Services, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Sep 12, 2011

The William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa has just ranked high nationally among the country’s law schools in two important realms.

The Law School has been named one of the “60 Best Value Law Schools” for 2011 by PreLaw Magazine, and it is 16th in National Jurist Magazine’s ranking of the top 20 law schools that offer exceptional clinical training opportunities. The sister magazines track values, trends, and issues in American law education and are viewed as important sources of information for students applying to law schools, those immersed in legal education, and law school graduates.

“It is always nice to be recognized,” noted Law School Dean Avi Soifer. “And it’s certainly accurate to say that we stand out for providing tremendous value in the education we offer our students, and the clinical component of our curriculum is one of our many unusually strong programs.”

In choosing the 60 best value law schools, PreLaw evaluates the bar pass rate, along with the percentage of students employed nine months after graduation and student indebtedness. The magazine also includes the cost of tuition into its algorithm. This year the magazine changed its standards slightly – to enhance fairness – by evaluating the bar pass rate and employment rate over the last two years rather than just the most recent.

“In past years a school could be included one year and excluded the next year due to slight fluctuations in their bar pass rate,” said Jack Crittenden, editor of both magazines, in announcing the new 2011 rankings on the PreLaw website. “This year’s changes are designed to penalize a school for poor bar exam performance, but not to exclude them outright.”

In National Jurist’s evaluation of schools with the best clinical program opportunities, the magazine points out that today’s difficult job market includes law firms who want new associates “who can hit the ground running.”  Experience during law school in working with real clients on real problems helps to produce such a lawyer.

At Richardson Law School, students receive credits for their experience in real-life client clinics including those in criminal law, family law, environmental law, elder law, child welfare law, Native Hawaiian rights law, and small business law.

The programs integrate theory and practice and prepare students to practice law by developing practical skills, values, and knowledge. At Richardson, every student must take at least one clinical course before graduating as well as doing at least 60 hours of pro bono work under legal supervision.

Dean Soifer noted, “We are fortunate to have remarkable clinical teachers who offer a broad array of courses that involve one-on-one supervision. Our clinic students thus get to learn and work directly to provide access to justice for some of those who are most vulnerable in our community.”

In preparing its rankings, National Jurist divided the total number of full-time clinical course positions offered by each school into its total number of full-time students. The average school has about one clinical position for every five full-time students, but the top schools score much higher.

The University of Hawai’i scored at 41.4 percent in 16th position among the top 20 schools. Yale University scored highest at 100.2 percent while Harvard University was 20th at 35.7 percent.