February 2014


Aloha,

It is February, one of, if not my favorite month of each year, since just about everyone in my family has a birthday in the month of hearts and valentines. The first month of the year zipped by and I want to tell you about a lot of interesting happenings and issues that you should be aware of.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald addressed your HSBA Officers and Board of Directors a few weeks ago and told us that the Judiciary’s number one construction budget priority is a new courthouse in Kona. The site has been selected and the project appears ready to move forward if Hawaii’s legislature will appropriate the needed funding.

I attended the Hawaii County Bar Association’s January meeting and listened to Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra inform the roughly 70 members in the audience how a new courthouse in Kona would not only provide the first real court building on the western side of the Big Island, but present a critically needed resource for our entire State and the citizens of Hawaii.

These viewpoints provided the framework for testimony that your HSBA Officers and Directors approved sending to our Legislature in full support of the Judiciary’s funding request. Citing the need for security and safety for all, including lawyers, court staff, parties, jurors and witnesses, our testimony noted how patient the people of Kona have been while other courtrooms have been erected around our State. It is now Kona’s turn and I ask each of you to take a few moments to write to your State Representative and State Senator to support the Judiciary’s funding request to build this courthouse.

We live in paradise with beautiful trade wind weather and none of us have to deal with ice, sleet, snow and freezing temperatures. My furry PA ‘twin from a different mother’, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted six more weeks of winter and along with a large contingent of Hawaii lawyers, I braved the Chicago weather last week (the thermometer never reached 20 degrees) and attended the American Bar Association Midyear meetings.

Attending the national meetings gives us an opportunity to see up close what issues are affecting our profession. One of the key take-away messages I brought back with me from Chicago is the double barreled threat facing the future of lawyers and legal services in Hawaii and across our nation. The cost of obtaining a legal education is rising faster than the rate of inflation. The availability of legal related employment for new law school graduates is shrinking. On the other hand, HSBA authorized a study of our membership and while subject to many variables, it appears likely that the growing number of lawyers in Hawaii will peak in a few years and then slowly begin to decline.

How will these parallel tracks affect the legal profession in Hawaii? Will the delivery of legal services, already demonstrably poor for many in dire need of help, be available and if so, how?

It is clear that every State and Bar Association across the country is facing similar concerns and addressing similar questions. HSBA is studying these issues in conjunction with other legal organizations including the Court.

Rather than watch and see how these issues play out, I urge each and every one of you to share any ideas you may have with an officer, director, committee member or staff member of HSBA. Please consider volunteering for the Self Help Centers or Access to Justice Rooms. Please let the HSBA staff know if you attended a Hawaii public high school for involvement in our upcoming Civics Education initiative. Finally, please answer the call when we ask for volunteers for Bar projects and functions, including this year’s dinner.

Every little bit makes a difference. So send that note, that letter, that email. Call your Representative and your Senator. Please step up and be heard, you will feel better having done so.

- Calvin Young, HSBA President


 

Your Young Lawyers Division Board is hard at work planning a variety of projects that I will be introducing you to over the next few months. This month I would like to highlight our big event of the first half of the year which is Law Week. Law Week is held in conjunction with the ABA's Law Day during the first week in May. During the week we will be doing legal information clinics at various locations around the island plus other activities. Stay tuned over the next couple of months for more details and information on how you can get involved.

- Malcolm Barcarse Jr. - Young Lawyers Division President


 
 

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