U of Hawaii adds new advanced legal studies programs

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law is now offering two new programs in advanced legal studies, establishing the school as a desirable destination for attorneys seeking global credentials in Asia-Pacific law, indigenous rights, environmental law, international law and business law.

The programs are primarily for foreign-trained attorneys, but the doctoral program is also open to U.S. attorneys.

The AJD, or Advanced or Accelerated Juris Doctor, lets foreign-trained lawyers earn a J.D. degree in as little as two years of study, rather than three. They have the option of taking a bar exam and then being admitted to practice in the U.S.

The SJD, or Doctor of Juridical Science, is primarily intended for those who have already earned a J.D. or an LL.M., and who teach or are preparing to teach law outside the U.S. It is also designed for those involved in policy work in research institutes and government organizations. It requires one year in residence at the law school.

“We are confident that the SJD program will provide a great opportunity for international legal practitioners who want to deepen their knowledge to pursue a teaching career in their home countries,” said Professor Tae-Ung Baik, director of the new SJD program. "The program will also contribute to the already high quality of legal scholarship at the Law School.”

Being in Hawaii offers a tremendous opportunity because it’s an intersection of cultures.

“These programs allow attorneys from all over the world to continue their legal training in Hawai‘i, and give them the flexibility to remain here or go back to practice law in their own countries,” said Minara Mordecai, director of Special Projects.

The school had heard from its LL.M.s that they wanted to do a research degree, but it wasn’t available at the school previously. The University of Hawaii Board of Regents also agreed to reduce the LL.M. tuition by one-third, making it more affordable. 

Key points about the SJD:

  • Students who have completed either a J.D. or LL.M. may apply.
  • Offers the time for advanced legal research or research on policy issues.
  • Cost is $1,200 per credit, with 16 credits the first year and 1 credit per semester in subsequent years.
  • Offers an important credential for those who hope to teach law outside the U.S. for both foreign-trained attorneys and American citizens.
  • Requires one year in residence at Richardson, with the expectation that the dissertation will be completed in three years.

Key points about the AJD:

  • Provides another option for foreign-trained attorneys who want to get a grounding in American law, and then have the option of practicing law in the United States.
  • Foreign-trained attorneys may receive up to a year’s credit toward a J.D. for their foreign law training.
  • The degree enables foreign attorneys to write a U.S. bar exam and practice anywhere in the U.S.
  • Applications are being accepted for both the SJD and the AJD programs, as well as for the LL.M. program.
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