Richardson School of Law

WILLIAM SHAW RICHARDSON (1919- ), for whom the William S. Richardson School of Law is named, was chairman of the Hawai'i Democratic Party from 1956-1962, lieutenant governor of the state of Hawai'i under John A. Burns, and Chief Justice of the Hawai'i State Supreme Court from 1966-1882. Naming the law school in his honor is a recognition of decades of hard work on the part of Richardson in getting the school started.


Richardson grew up in Kaimuki. He graduated from Roosevelt High School, the University of Hawai'i, and the University of Cincinnati law school. During World War II he served with the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment. He is of Hawaiian, Chinese, and Caucasian ancestry and many of his key rulings reflect his identification with the cultural ways of his ancestors. As he put it, "The Western concept of exclusivity is not universally applicable in Hawai'i." His court declared that surface waters belongs to the public, expanded the public's access to beaches and recognized that new land created by lava flows belong to the state and not the nearest property owner.

The law school he helped bring into existence incorporates many of Richardson's values. It has provided Native Hawaiian and other under-represented groups a means to work within the legal system to bring about positive change. Fifteen percent of the law school students are Native Hawaiians and Pacific-Asian Islanders and it is the only law school in the country to offer a course on Native Hawaiian Law.

MacKenzie, Melody Kapilialoha. "Honoring Chief Justice William S. Richardson." Ka He'e. []


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