Maui News

35,000 free legal consultations for Hawaiʻi residents since 2011

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Individual attorneys, law firms and professional legal associations have volunteered at Hawaiʻi’s courthouse self-help centers, providing more than 35,000 free legal consultations since 2011 to people seeking assistance, many of whom could not afford a lawyer.

With strong support of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi, Self-Help Centers were opened on Kauaʻi, Maui and the Big Island, and two Access to Justice Rooms on Oʻahu.

Attorneys and judiciary staff who provided operational support for the Honolulu District Court Access to Justice Room in 2022 include, front row (L-R): Judiciary Innovations Officer Angela Min, Christine Daleiden, Hawaii State Law Librarian Jenny Silbiger, and Derek Kobayashi. Middle row: Michael Goodman, Gilbert Doles, Rebecca Gardner, Deputy Chief Judge Melanie May, Jennifer Chin, Rachel Figueroa, and Alana Bryant. Top row: Sergio Alcubilla, Steven Nichols, Micah Smith, James Rooney, Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Dale Zane, Nicolas Kido, and Bill Lawson. Photo Courtesy: Hawaiʻi State Judiciary

The Self-Help Centers were established as part of the State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts. Since opening, Hawaiʻi attorneys have provided legal information and guidance on a variety of civil legal matters in district and family courts, including landlord tenant cases, collection cases, temporary restraining orders and divorce.

Early work on Hawaiʻi’s Self-Help Centers occurred in November 2010, at the Self-Help Center Conference where Kaua‘i was selected to spearhead the initiative.


Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Trudy Senda (ret.) and Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi Executive Director Nalani Fujimori Kaina played crucial roles in opening the first center, from implementing logistics, to developing a training plan for all volunteer attorneys and AmeriCorps volunteers.  

In 2022, the state commemorated the 10-year anniversaries of the Self-Help Centers in the Hilo and Maui courthouses, and the Access to Justice Rooms in the Honolulu District Court and the Ronald T.Y. Moon Judiciary Complex in Kapolei on Oʻahu.

“I am deeply grateful to all the hard-working attorneys who have given their time and expertise over the past decade to support the courthouse Self-Help Centers in our effort to provide assistance to those who need it most,” Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald said. “Attorneys who volunteered during the past two years deserve special recognition for their dedication to serving our communities through the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Over the past 10 years, hundreds of attorneys have volunteered – 230 in the last year alone – and they have helped thousands of people at almost no cost to the public. It’s no exaggeration to say that these centers have become the signature achievement of Hawaiʻi’s Access to Justice movement. In the latest survey of all 50 states as well as the territories, Hawaiʻi ranked sixth for our efforts to provide access to justice.” 

Attorneys interested in volunteering at the courthouse Self-Help Centers, or other pro bono opportunities, are invited to visit the Hawaiʻi Access to Justice Commission website, and click the menu item “How to Help”: 

Visit the Hawaii State Judiciary website for more information on the courthouse self-help centers


Free consultations at courthouse Self-Help Centers from October 2011 to November 2022. 

  • Kauaʻi Self-Help Center: 4,524 since October 2011 
  • Hilo Self-Help Center: 7,892 since July 2012 
  • Honolulu Access to Justice Room: 8,619 since August 2012 
  • Kapolei Access to Justice Room: 2,635 since September 2012 
  • Maui Self-Help Center: 7,271 since October 2012 
  • Kona Self-Help Center: 4,107 since October 2013 

Total:  35,048 


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