School of Law Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Anniversary celebration at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to feature class reunions, former deans, and welcome of new dean Avi Soifer

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Sep 10, 2003

More than 800 people are expected to attend the 30th anniversary celebration for the University of Hawaiʻi‘s William S. Richardson School of Law on Saturday, September 13, 2003, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. In addition, Dean Emeritus Lawrence Foster (1995-2003) will be honored with a special award and new Dean Aviam Soifer will be welcomed as students, faculty, staff and the community gather to celebrate.

The dinner will be held in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Ballroom with cocktails beginning at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., and the formal program at 8:30 p.m.

Honorary co-chairs for the event are Chief Justice William S. Richardson, for whom the school is named; retired international lawyer Frank Boas; and Beadie Dawson (‘81), current chair of the Friends of the Law School‘s board and active community leader. Shawn Ching (‘03) and Marilyn Moniz Kahoʻohanohano (‘79) will serve as the emcees for the evening.

Former deans of the law school expected to attend and traveling from out of state are Cliff Thompson (1977-1978) from Indonesia and Jeremy Harrison (1985-1994) from Detroit. Alumni from around the world are also expected with representatives from every class in attendance.

History of the UH William S. Richardson School of Law

The William S. Richardson School of Law is dedicated to providing excellence in legal education and scholarship and to promoting justice, ethical responsibility and public service. Special emphasis is placed on fields of law of particular importance to Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region, such as environmental law, Native Hawaiian rights, ocean law, and Pacific and Asian Legal Studies.

Formal study on the idea of establishing a law school for the state of Hawaiʻi began in 1968. Five years later, the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law admitted its first class. Fifty-three students comprised that first entering class in 1973 and they were greeted by a faculty of six members. One of those students was a young man named John Waiheʻe, who in 1986 was elected Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi and served until 1994.

Provisional accreditation was granted by the American Bar Association (ABA) in the spring of 1974 with full accreditation earned in August 1982. The culmination of the early years‘ efforts came with the opening of the school‘s new facilities in 1983.

Today, the School of Law seats approximately 100 students in each entering class. Total student enrollment is approximately 300 and permanent faculty now numbers 20.

Special mention is due former Chief Justice of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court, William S. Richardson. His patient counsel, steady effort and unwavering commitment to the establishment and development of a high quality law school buttressed all other efforts and served as an example for those who played a role in its history. In recognition of his contribution, the UH Board of Regents in 1983 named the school the William S. Richardson School of Law. Today, the former Chief Justice continues to play an active role in community affairs and remains a key supporter of the law school‘s mission and objectives.