Pro Bono Opportunities
As the Hawaii State Bar Association, part of our stated Mission is to unite and inspire Hawaii's lawyers to serve the public. Supreme Court Rule 6.1 states that providing pro bono service is the individual ethical commitment of each member of the HSBA and encourages all members of the bar to aspire to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono services annually.
Where to Volunteer:
Contact any of the below organizations and you will be welcomed and assisted with pro bono and community service activities.
Access to Justice Room / Self-Help Centers
The Court Self-Help Centers are a collaborative effort of the Judiciary, the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Kauai County Bar Association, the Maui County Bar Association, the Hawaii County Bar Association, West Hawaii Bar Association, AmeriCorps, and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii to increase access to justice for self-represented litigants. Over 27,000 visitors have received legal help and nearly 700 attorneys have volunteered since the first Court Self-Help Center opened on Kauai in 2011.
Volunteer attorneys are providing legal help to the community remotely through the statewide Court Self-Help Centers. Attorneys will provide limited legal help by telephone in areas such as landlord-tenant, family, and other district court matters. Calls will be answered by an AmeriCorps Advocate who will connect you with the attorney. Please call the Court Self-Help Center in your community during the following days and times.
Honolulu Access to Justice Room:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Callers will be referred by the Honolulu District Court Service Center. Phone: (808) 538-5629
Kauai Court Self-Help Center:
Monday and Thursday from 10:00 am – Noon. Phone: (808) 698-7552
Maui Court Self-Help Center:
Monday and Thursday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Phone: (808) 707-7153
Hilo Court Self-Help Center:
Tuesday and Friday 11:15 am – 12:45 pm. Phone: (808) 746-5363
Kona Court Self-Help Center:
Wednesday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Phone: (808) 437-7557
Short term limited legal services to include legal information and/or legal advice.
Training is required for all volunteers.
Maya Scimeca at email@example.com
American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the only national organization dedicated to defending and expanding the civil liberties of all people. The ACLU of Hawaii has a variety of pro bono opportunities for individuals seeking to defend civil liberties an the fundamental principles of our Constitution, including opportunities for cooperating attorneys and individuals seeking to volunteer on various legislation and litigation projects.
Phone: (808) 522-5900
Fax: (808) 522-5909
Appellate Pro Bono Program
The Hawaii State Bar Association Appellate Division, working in coordination with the Hawaii State Judiciary and Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, have formed the Appellate Pro Bono Program for atorneys seeking valuable appellate experience through the representation of pro se litigants with civil appeals before the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the Hawaii Supreme Court.
The subject mater for eligible cases includes foreclosures, summary possession, employment discrimination, worker’s compensation, state tax appeals, wrongful termination, unemployment beneﬁt denials, probate and family law areas of divorce, child custody, child support, and paternity. This program is expected to expand to other areas of law in the future.
Individuals seeking assistance through this program are pre-screened for subject matter and income qualifications. As volunteers, you will be provided case information for conflict checking and assessment. You will then have the opportunity to accept or decline a pro bono opportunity. Periodic trainings will be available as well as mentoring by experienced appellate attorneys on the procedural aspects of the assigned pro bono case. Volunteer Attorneys are not required nor expected to pay court costs or any other out-of-pocket costs associated with the pro bono case.
Benefits include providing greater access to justice for those in need, gain valuable experience in appellate briefing and oral argument before the Appellate or Supreme Court.
Briefing and oral argument at Appellate or Supreme Court
Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Law Corps (BLC)
The BLC provides free pro bono corporate legal services to Hawaii’s small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Weekly one-on-one 30-minute client consultations; seminars; direct provision of legal services
Cat Taschner, email@example.com
Community Mediation Centers
There are five Community mediation centers under contract to the State of Hawaii to provide volunteer mediators and affordable mediation services to the public. Contact the center nearest you for more information:
The Mediation Center of the Pacific
The Mediation Center of the Pacific, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, Aloha United Way Agency that has assisted thousands of people in Hawaii's communities to prevent and resolve disputes since 1979.
Phone: (808) 521-6767
Fax: (808) 538-1454
Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc.
KEO is a non-profit agency founded in 1965. Dedicated to serving people in need, KEO has assisted thousands of individuals and families through an array of programs and services. They are committed to promoting grassroots participation and self-sufficiency.
Phone: (808) 245-4077
Fax: (808) 245-7476
Maui Mediation Services
Maui Mediation Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1982. MMS provides alternative dispute resolution, facilitation and training to Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Trained volunteer mediators from MMS work to promote better understanding and communication by offering high quality mediation services to those in conflict.
Phone: (808) 244-5744
Kuikahi Mediation Center
Since 1983, Kuikahi Mediation Center has helped to bring about peaceful resolutions to conflicts in the community—first as a program of the YMCA of Hawaii Island, and from 2006 as an independent non-profit organization.
Kuikahi Mediation Center provides a variety of dispute prevention and resolution services to our East Hawaii community. They help individuals, families, organizations, businesses, schools, and others to find creative solutions to challenging situations.
Phone: (808) 935-7844
Fax: (808) 961-9727
West Hawaii Mediation Center
Founded in 1988, West Hawaii Mediation Center (WHMC) strives to provide an array of high quality conflict resolution services to community members and organizations throughout West Hawaii. WHMC provides a neutral setting for parties in conflict to have a confidential dialogue.
Phone: (808) 885-5525
Fax: (808) 887-0525
Domestic Violence Action Center
The Domestic Violence Action Center and Legal Hotline is committed to ending domestic violence and other forms of abuse through leadership, prevention, legal service, individual and systemic advocacy and social change work.
Varies as DVAC services offer wide range therefore it is recommended to reach out to Contacts for further inquiry
DVAC offers opportunities for volunteers to shadow the process from intake until the disposition of the survivor’s case.
Tiara Nakata or Nanci Kriedman, (808) 534-0040
Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice (LEJ)
The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice is working to build a Hawaii where everyone has genuine opportunities to achieve economic security and fulfill their potential. They change systems that perpetuate inequality through research, policy development, education, coalition building, and advocacy.
Phone: (808) 587–7605
Hawaii Disability Rights Center
The Hawaii Disability Rights Center is Hawaii’s designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System for people with disabilities and Hawaii’s designated Client Assistance Program (CAP) for applicants and clients of programs funded under the federal Rehabilitation Act. The sole mission of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center is to protect and promote the human, civil and legal rights of individuals with disabilities, as established in the constitutions and laws of the State of Hawaii and the United States, through information, outreach, education, and advocacy.
Phone: (808) 949-2922
Fax: (808) 949-2928
Hawaii Innocence Project
The Hawaii Innocence Project, founded in 2005 at the William S. Richardson School of Law, fights for the freedom of those who have been wrongfully convicted and advocates for the prevention of future injustice. The Hawaii Innocence Project is a member of the Innocence Network, a collection of organizations across the nation who have joined the movement for justice and freedom.
Phone: (808) 956-6547
Hawaii Online Pro Bono (HOP)
Hawaii Online Pro Bono (HOP) is an online service for low to moderate income Hawaii residents. HOP is a web based legal clinic that allows users to get their civil legal questions answered 24/7 by Hawaii licensed volunteer attorneys. Help answer Hawaii residents questions in: family law, estate planning, bankruptcy, landlord-tenant, small claims, veteran benefits and immigration.
Answer legal questions at your leisure, anywhere you have internet access. Clients do not know you by name, only as Attorney ID#.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://hawaii.freelegalanswers.org/
Kapolei Access to Justice Room
Free limited legal assistance on family court civil issues (i.e. divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, adoptions, guardianships of a minor) is available to unrepresented/pro se parties at the Kapolei Access to Justice Room (KAJR) at the Ronald T. Y. Moon Courthouse in Kapolei and the Supreme Court Law Library satellite KAJR location in Honolulu. The service is provided by a partnership between the Hawaii State Judiciary and volunteer attorneys with the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Since KAJR opened in September 2012, more than 2100 clients have been served. Due to the pandemic, KAJR is now being held remotely through videoconferencing and is open on the first and third Thursdays of each month from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A person interested in receiving services can sign up by calling (808) 954-8290
Short term limited legal services to include legal information and/or legal advice.
Training is required for all volunteers
Contact: Dyan Mitsuyama at email@example.com
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (LASH) - Immigration and Disaster Assistance
Established in 1950 with 10 offices statewide, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is a nonprofit, public interest law firm dedicated to increasing access to justice for the state’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
Volunteer attorneys can accept or assist with cases related to immigration through Legal Aid's Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center or providing disaster related legal assistance as part of the recovery efforts after a natural disaster.
Scope: Full representation or short-term limited services through disaster related legal clinics.
Mentorship: Yes, available for immigration cases. Training provided.
Contact: Maya Scimeca at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every Wednesday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. attorneys are available via telephone to provide legal information. The volunteer licensed pro bono attorneys identify the issue(s) or concern(s) and refer the callers to the appropriate HSBA staff, legal service provider or government agency, which may be contacted for assistance. The Legal Line phone number in Honolulu is (808) 537-1868. Neighbor island constituents may call toll-free 1-888-609-5463. Legal advice is not provided, and an attorney-client relationship is not formed.
Scope: Legal information given by phone.
Contact: Christilei Hessler, email@example.com
Maui Mediation Services (MMS)
Maui Mediation Services (MMS), a community mediation center serving Maui County since 1982, has volunteer opportunities available for attorneys interested in alternative dispute resolution. Mediation services are provided for cases referred from the Wailuku, Lahaina, Hana and Molokai Courthouses. Subject matter for referred cases include residential landlord/tenant, small claims, and child custody disputes. Cases are also referred from other sources including but not limited to social services agencies, friends/friends and attorneys.
Those seeking mediations all volunteer to participate and are screened for appropriateness. As a volunteer mediator, you will be provided case information for conflict checking and assessment. You will then have the opportunity to accept or decline a pro bono opportunity. Periodic trainings are required and mentoring is provided by experienced mediators on the procedural aspects of the assigned pro bono case.
Benefits include providing greater access to justice for those in need, helping to decrease already overcrowded court dockets, and empowering the parties to develop their own best solution in a process that promotes respect, communication, and peace.
Scope: Providing mediation services at Maui County Courthouses or at Maui Mediation Services offices in Wailuku.
Mentorship: Yes; Available.
Contact: Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mediation Center of the Pacific (MCP)
The Mediation Center of the Pacific (MCP) provides mediation and dispute resolution services that are affordable and accessible for all. MCP is able to offer these services for a nominal or no fee by using mediators who provide the services pro bono. MCP’s mediation and dispute resolution services address a broad variety of issues from divorce, paternity, landlord tenant, civil rights, condominium, special education, elder, family and more. A preponderance of the cases mediated at MCP’s office are domestic (divorce, post- divorce and custody) that are ordered or referred from Family Court.
All cases are scheduled for three-hour sessions Monday through Friday, at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and occasional Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. The Client Services Specialists who schedule the cases, assign the mediators to cases based on the mediator’s experience, subject matter expertise and availability. The Client Services Specialists provide the case information for conflict checking and assessment. MCP generally adheres to a co-mediation model pairing new mediators with experienced mentor mediators and non-lawyer mediators with lawyer mediators.
Benefits include increasing access to justice by helping people negotiate and resolve their disputes creatively in a safe, confidential setting. Mediators hone their negotiation and conflict resolution skills and learn effective advocacy approaches in mediation
Requirements: Family law attorneys may complete the Accelerated Divorce Mediation Training. Volunteers are required to mediate a minimum of 5 cases annually. A three-year commitment is required. All volunteers must complete a 24-hour Basic Mediation Training (MCP’s or a comparable training).
Mentorship: Yes. All new mediators are required to complete an Apprenticeship, including co-mediating 10 cases with mentor mediators. Additional training and workshops are provided by MCP throughout the year.
Contact: Mediator Manager – email@example.com
Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawaii
The Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i (MLPC) is a collaboration between the William S. Richardson School of Law (University of Hawai‘i) and the Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV), a community health center. MLPC provides free legal services, on-site at KKV for low-income families. MPC also engages in community education and systemic advocacy to promote legal knowledge, equity, and civic engagement.
Scope: The MLPC prioritizes law students and recent graduates for pro bono and fellowship opportunities. MLPC also partners with licensed attorneys who can provide particular needs, such as civil rights, disability access, family law, personal injury, and policy advocacy.
Mentorship: As a project of the William S. Richardson School of Law, MLPC Hawai‘i provides extensive mentorship for law students and recent graduates selected to work with MLPC. MLPC also engages in collaboration with partnering attorneys through “warm hand-offs,” supportive client communications, and other facilitated transactions. Attorneys must be flexible and willing to work outside of traditional office spaces and to serve clients with unique needs (e.g., unstable housing, limited English).
Contact: Dina Shek, Legal Director firstname.lastname@example.org; (808) 371-2698
Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation
The mission of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation ("NHLC") is to perpetuate the rights, customs, and practices which strengthen Native Hawaiian identity and culture. NHLC carries out its mission by integrating native values into the practice of Western law and jurisprudence. Most of NHLC's clients are indigent Native Hawaiians who would not otherwise be able to afford legal representation for their civil and/or administrative matters.
Scope: The practice areas for volunteer attorneys include quiet title/partition defense, family/land trust creation, simple probate and estate planning, non-profit legal advise and counsel, eviction/foreclosure/Department of Hawaiian Homes lease cancellation, burial protection, natural resource protection, access rights, historic and cultural protection, administrative law, land use law, and family law.
Contact: Summer Sylva, Esq. (808) 521-2302, email@example.com, www.nativehawaiianlegalcorp.org .
University of Hawaii Elder Law Program (UHELP)
UHELP has an attorney/professor, a program administrator/legal assistant and several student law clerks. UHELP operates throughout the calendar year and provides basic legal assistance, advice and information. UHELP is not permitted to assist with business or criminal law matters or with personal injury or other fee-generating cases. You may qualify for services if you are 60 years or older and are socially or economically needy or if you are a caregiver of an older person and need legal assistance on behalf of the older person. (Each case is evaluated according to its own merits and in accordance with staff capabilities).
Contact: (808) 956-6544, http://www.hawaii.edu/uhelp/
Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH)
Since 1981, Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii has helped the community and the Hawaii State Bar by matching private practice Hawaii attorneys with pro bono opportunities. Volunteer attorneys are the backbone of the organization, without whom access to justice could not be achieved. In 2019, over 3,200 hours were donated by pro bono attorneys through VLSH. The organization’s pool of volunteer attorneys includes those specializing in family law, guardianship, wills and probate, collections, landlord-tenant, small claims, veteran benefits, and bankruptcy. Services include legal education classes, legal advice, telephone consultations, document drafting, self-help workshops and full representation. VLSH staff screens and conducts a full intake on clients including requesting important documents for his/her case and provides the same with conflicts checks to volunteer attorney prior to scheduled clinic appointment. Neighborhood Advice and Counsel clinics occur on Thursdays 5p-8p and Saturdays 9a-12p (a volunteer attorney will have 2-4 scheduled clients per clinic); other events vary throughout the year. Due to the pandemic, currently all clinics are being held “virtually” over the telephone until further notice.
Scope: Advice & Counsel clinics, Brief Services, and Full Representation cases
Mentorship: Yes, available.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vlsh.org