Life at the University of Hawaii – Manoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law is not as carefree and relaxing as its gorgeous island setting might make you imagine. The course load is “demanding,” but since there is a “tremendous feeling of support from both peers and administration” the school has managed to develop “a proud and loyal student body.” The “amazingly accessible” staff at Manoa are “here to make sure that we succeed and that we enjoy this process.” Richardson may be small, but “the faculty is a distinguished group with diverse backgrounds and experience.”
Some have had a “mixed” experience, with some courses offering “a lot about topics relevant to my career interests” and other courses taught by replacement teachers who “had no experience in teaching the topic.” Overall, however, students feel they have “received a great legal education” by being “challenged academically” at Richardson. Key is the idea that professors “encourage discussion and questions,” with a hands-on process that “allows students to play with the hypotheticals” rather than simply absorb lectures.
Students here do not feel cut off from the administration of the school, either. Faculty are supportive of all, even “talented students who may not aspire to law review but will still serve as assets to the profession. “ “When we feel that any part of the school’s facilities is lacking, there are avenues we can take to express our concerns, and there is often action taken to address our problems.” The administration is even “willing to work with students in order to adjust finals and class schedules.” While some complain “there is a lot of red tape to go through if you want to accomplish anything,” results are the bottom line, and most students agree that the administration is “eager to help students” and “take the time to get to know us.” Students have even “had discussions with the various deans passing in the courtyard.”
“Antiquated” facilities vex some students, however, with “unreliable” Internet access and classrooms “not all equipped for the mandatory use of laptops.” The IT staff at Richardson completed a wireless expansion in April 2013. This is balanced by “some of the most competent and experienced professors ever,” an “amazing” group of educators who display “passion for teaching” and a “willingness to personally engage with their students.” As one student notes, these traits “add value to my education and growth.”
While Richardson does boast more diversity than many other law schools—“women and minorities are well represented”—that diversity can be a little misleading because “they largely come from privileged backgrounds.” Without great access to scholarship money for the financially disadvantaged, the school may “increasingly be reserved for rich kids.” The fact that “we do not have large endowments or a wealthy alumni base” does not help in this regard. But for those who can attend, opportunities outside the classroom are unlike those anywhere else in the nation thanks to the stunning tropical setting.