Over 260 people attended the ninth Hawaii Access to Justice Conference on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, Manoa campus.   The conference celebrated the theme “Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Justice.”

The Cades Foundation was acknowledged for its generosity in providing a grant to assist in defraying the costs of the conference.

Governor David Ige, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, and Associate Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.) provided welcoming remarks.

Justice Acoba, Chair of the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, stated:

     Today, we see examples of public discourse across our nation that have seemingly sunk to new lows in civility and the seeming abandonment of assistance to those who are most in need.

  In this environment, what we can do through personal and collective acts of charity, of generosity, of sharing, of sacrifice becomes all the more important and valuable.

      We can stand for such virtues–by encouraging public support of assistance to others and by endorsing the valuable contributions our colleagues make in this respect– especially in our legal system.

Dean Kellye Testy of the University of Washington School of Law energized the audience with her keynote address, “Just Innovations.”  “[W]e must nurture a spirit of ‘just innovation,’ that is, a spirit of innovation whose first principle is to advance justice and human dignity.”   “We must not only tolerate risk taking, we must encourage it.”  She stated:

These collaborations within the legal system are critical. Next stage design thinking will also require collaboration across traditional lines – among judges, lawyers, academics, social justice movements, labor unions, human rights advocates and others — and now also with technologists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business leaders, and angel investors, too. Our ranks are expanding; let’s welcome these newcomers with open arms.  We need them; and frankly, they need us.

Let me close and turn to questions by quoting a lawyer who taught me more about Access to Justice than any other: Mr. Len Schroeter, a fellow Hoosier, founder of the Seattle law firm that still bears his name, architect of Washington’s Access to Justice Board, and staunch believer in each person’s fundamental right to justice. Len passed away in 2014 at age 90, and inspired generations of justice-seeking lawyers. He was a rebel and a trouble maker in all the best ways, as well as a scholar and a lawyer in all the best ways. In 2000, writing about the turn to the new century, he noted:

“As I look to the future, to me, the only reliable power is not massive wealth, nor military force, nor technology, but the power of the intellect, the compassion of the heart, and the respect for the heritage of all mankind. Hope and optimism for the future is essential. It is the existential necessity for commitment and thoughtful action. It is the best we can offer in a world of rapid change.”   Well said Len.  Here is to hope and to optimism for a spirit of just innovation that is now growing by leaps and bounds (yottabytes?).   Let us nurture it well; I am confident it will help us realize the promise of equal justice under law.


Concurrent workshops in the morning and afternoon presented further opportunities for attendees to discuss innovations and ideas.

The full text of Justice Acoba’s remarks, Chief Justice Recktenwald’s remarks, and Dean Testy’s keynote address are noted below.

Justice Simeon Acoba’s opening remarks (2017 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference)

Remarks of Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald

Dean Kellye Testy’s Address for the 2017 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference

2017 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference Agenda

“Challenging Issues for the Low-Income Client in Family Court” – workshop summary

“Overcoming Barriers to Access to Justice” – workshop summary