Celebrating 35,000 Free Legal Consultations for Hawaii ResidentsPosted on Feb 2, 2023 in Featured News, News & Reports, Press Releases
HONOLULU – Since 2011, individual attorneys, law firms, and professional legal associations have volunteered at Hawaii’s courthouse Self-Help Centers, providing more than 35,000 free legal consultations to people seeking assistance, many of whom could not afford a lawyer. In 2022, the state commemorated the 10-year anniversaries of the Self-Help Centers in the Hilo and Maui courthouses, and the Access to Justice Rooms in the Honolulu District Court and the Ronald T.Y. Moon Judiciary Complex in Kapolei. Volunteer attorneys were honored for their service at special recognition ceremonies celebrating the anniversaries of each center.
“I am deeply grateful to all the hard-working attorneys who have given their time and expertise over the past decade to support the courthouse Self-Help Centers in our effort to provide assistance to those who need it most,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “Attorneys who volunteered during the past two years deserve special recognition for their dedication to serving our communities through the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Thanks in large part to the strong support of the Hawaii State Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, we opened Self-Help Centers on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island, along with two Access to Justice Rooms on Oahu. Over the past 10 years, hundreds of attorneys have volunteered – 230 in the last year alone – and they have helped thousands of people at almost no cost to the public. It’s no exaggeration to say that these centers have become the signature achievement of Hawaii’s Access to Justice movement. In the latest survey of all 50 states as well as the territories, Hawaii ranked sixth for our efforts to provide access to justice.”
The Self-Help Centers were established as part of the State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts. Since opening, Hawaii attorneys have provided legal information and guidance on a variety of civil legal matters in district and family courts, including landlord tenant cases, collection cases, temporary restraining orders, and divorce.
Early work on Hawaii’s self-help centers occurred in November 2010, at the Self-Help Center Conference where Kaua‘i was selected to spearhead the initiative. Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Trudy Senda (ret.) and Legal Aid Society of Hawaii Executive Director Nalani Fujimori Kaina played crucial roles in opening the first center, from implementing logistics, to developing a training plan for all volunteer attorneys and AmeriCorps volunteers.
Attorneys interested in volunteering at the courthouse Self-Help Centers, or other pro bono opportunities, are invited to visit the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission website, and click the menu item “How to Help”:
Visit the Hawaii State Judiciary website for more information on the courthouse self-help centers.
Free Consultations at Courthouse Self-Help Centers October 2011 – November 2022
• Kauai Self-Help Center: 4,524 since October 2011
• Hilo Self-Help Center: 7,892 since July 2012
• Honolulu Access to Justice Room: 8,619 since August 2012
• Kapolei Access to Justice Room: 2,635 since September 2012
• Maui Self-Help Center: 7,271 since October 2012
• Kona Self-Help Center: 4,107 since October 2013