Hawaii State Judiciary Celebrates Pro Bono Week

The National Pro Bono Week Celebration, from October 23- 29,  focuses attention on the legal work that lawyers do free of charge to increase access to justice for all.  The Hawaii State Judiciary has been ranked among the top three states in the country for access to justice initiatives and volunteer attorneys play a critical role by assisting individuals who cannot afford an attorney.

judiciaryOne way that attorneys volunteer is through the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Access to Justice Rooms and Self-Help centers in courthouses statewide.  Since January of this year, more than 2,600 people have been assisted with civil legal issues thanks to the work of these volunteer attorneys.

“Many individuals in our community have critical questions about how to better navigate the legal system,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “For example, how to request a temporary restraining order, address landlord-tenant disputes, or handle issues impacting their family like adoption, child custody, and divorce.  These volunteer attorneys provide Hawaii residents with a great service by sharing their time, expertise, and professionalism.”

To thank the volunteer attorneys, the Hawaii State Judiciary will be participating in series of events planned during National Pro Bono Week and through the duration of the year:

Monday, October 24, 2016- Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH) launched a new service called “Hawaii Online Pro bono,” and is part of the American Bar Association Free Legal Answers national project.  Hawaii Online Pro bono (HOP) allows income-qualifying residents to simply register and post a question on a secured website (Hawaii.Freelegalanswers.org) where it will be reviewed and responded to by a volunteer attorney who is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association.

“The goal of HOP is to provide an additional tool for individuals who cannot afford an attorney,” said Michelle Acosta, Executive Director of VLSH. “This free service enhances options for rural residents to ‘HOP’ on to the website anytime to seek answers to basic legal questions and get high quality responses that will help them better understand their situation and assess their options.”

VLSH hopes that the public will take advantage of this free service and is also encouraging more local lawyers to volunteer.  All interested attorneys should contact VLSH.  Once registered, attorneys can “HOP” on anytime, login from anywhere, choose a question to respond to, and then research and write the answer.

“We applaud Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii for its efforts on making this service available at our fingertips, for lawyers and the public alike,” said Justice Simeon R. Acoba, Access to Justice Commission Chair.  “The practice of law is a magnificent privilege, one that is meant to be rendered for the betterment of all – especially the needy and disadvantaged who are often the most underrepresented.  We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our civil legal service providers and volunteer attorneys and are grateful for this week to recognize their contributions to our community.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 (MAUI) – Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald attended a Maui County Bar Association Luncheon to thank the attorneys who volunteer at the Self-Help Center at Hoapili Hale.

Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 4:00pm- The Hawaii State Judiciary will be honoring volunteer attorneys at the 2016 Pro Bono Celebration at the Hawaii Supreme Court Courtroom.  The Pro Bono Celebration is sponsored by the Hawai‘i Access to Justice Commission with the support of the Hawai‘i State Bar Association and the Hawai‘i State Bar Foundation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 (KAUAI) – Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will be attending a Kauai Bar Association Coffee Hour to thank the attorneys who volunteer at the Self Help Center at the Puuhonua Kaulike Building (the Kauai Judiciary Complex).

Friday, December 2, 2016 (HILO, HAWAII ISLAND) – Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will be attending a Hawaii County Bar Association Luncheon to thank the attorneys who volunteer at the Self-Help Center at Hale Kaulike (Hilo Circuit Court).

Friday, December 9, 2016 (KONA, HAWAII ISLAND) – Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will be attending a West Hawaii Bar Association Luncheon to thank the volunteer attorneys who volunteer at the Self-Help Center at the Keakealani Building (Kona Circuit Court).

For more information about the Self-Help Centers and Access to Justice Rooms, please visit the Hawaii State Judiciary’s website at www.courts.state.hi.us.  To request photos or more information on any of these scheduled events, please contact the Communications & Community Relations Office at 539-4909.

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