How to Become a Lawyer in Hawaii: Education Requirements, Admission Laws, and Salary

Have you ever dreamt of becoming a lawyer in paradise? Hawaii, with its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, offers a unique opportunity for those seeking a fulfilling legal career. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of how to become a lawyer in Hawaii, from obtaining your undergraduate degree to passing the bar exam. We will also provide insights into job opportunities, networking, and continuing legal education requirements. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey to becoming a lawyer in the Aloha State!

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Become a lawyer in Hawaii by obtaining an undergraduate degree, passing the LSAT and MPRE exams, and being admitted to the Bar.

  • Explore financial aid options for law school tuition such as grants, work-study programs, loans & scholarships.

  • Enjoy high salaries with potential bonuses & commissions working in Pearl City, Kahului, Kaneohe or within corporate law, litigation, and real estate fields.

Path to Becoming a Lawyer in Hawaii

Initiating your journey to become a lawyer in Hawaii, you must first secure a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners mandates an applicant to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school. Additionally, passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), with a minimum scaled score of 85, is a prerequisite.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is responsible for granting the admission of attorneys to the Hawaii Bar. The court sets standards and evaluates applications for admission. Graduates from non-ABA-accredited law schools can still take the Hawaii bar exam if they have passed the bar exam in another state and fulfill the years-of-practice rule.

Becoming a lawyer in Hawaii involves several steps such as earning an undergraduate degree, graduating from law school, and clearing the bar exam. Subsequent sections will offer a more thorough exploration of these steps, providing useful insights for those yearning to join the legal profession.

Obtain Your Undergraduate Degree

Prior to pursuing a legal career in Hawaii, it’s necessary to secure a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution. The accreditation should be from a regional or national agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Although the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners does not specify a particular pre-law school education, aspiring attorneys often major in subjects like:

  • history

  • English

  • psychology

  • political science

  • sociology

  • communications

Having a solid foundation in your undergraduate studies will not only prepare you for the rigors of law school but also provide essential skills for a successful legal career. It is important to maintain a strong academic record, as law schools place significant emphasis on applicants’ undergraduate performance.

Choose a Law School in Hawaii

After securing your undergraduate degree, you should then choose an ABA-approved law school, either in Hawaii or at another location. The William S. is located at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It is renowned for its educational excellence. Richardson School of Law is one reputable option for those seeking a legal education in the Aloha State. The average LSAT score for students admitted to this institution is 151.

As part of your law school application, you will need to use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS), which helps organize your academic records, LSAT scores, and letters of recommendation. Carefully research each law school’s specific requirements, as admission criteria may vary.

Selecting the right law school is an important decision that will shape your legal career, so take the time to find the best fit for your personal and professional goals.

Complete Law School

Following your admission to law school, you are required to complete specific coursework to receive a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is home to William S. This institution serves as an important hub for education and research in the region. Richardson School of Law, for example, students must complete 89 semester hours of credit. Additionally, students are required to complete a minimum of 60 hours of pro-bono legal work and a legal clinical experience for a minimum of two credit hours.

Upon completing law school, you will have the necessary knowledge and skills to embark on a legal career in Hawaii. However, before practicing law, you must pass the Hawaii bar exam, which we will discuss in the following sections.

Preparing for the LSAT

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test used for admission to law school. It assesses reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills of attorney hopefuls. The LSAT comprises four sections of questions and is mandatory for admission to the majority of law schools.

Hawaii’s aspiring attorneys can take the LSAT on Mondays and Saturdays during June, July, September, October, November, January, February, March, and April. To prepare for the exam, you can utilize complimentary study resources provided by the LSAT website, as well as official LSAT preparation courses available in Hawaii.

LSAT Test Dates and Locations

The LSAT, administered seven times per year, is offered on various dates throughout the year in Hawaii. Some upcoming test dates that may be of interest include October 13-16, 2023 and November 8-9, 2023. The test is also administered globally on a variety of dates, following the rules set by the Law School Admission Council.

To ensure you are well-prepared for the LSAT, it is important to plan ahead and register for a test date that allows ample time for study and preparation. Keep in mind that law schools will consider your LSAT score as a critical element in their evaluation process.

LSAT Scoring and Results

The LSAT is scored on a scale that ranges from 120 to 180, with raw scores based on the number of correct answers. These raw scores are converted into scaled scores to determine an individual’s score within the 120-180 range. Law schools use LSAT scores to evaluate an applicant’s aptitude for success in law school.

Achieving a competitive LSAT score is vital to enhance your chances of acceptance at your preferred law school. Invest time and effort in preparing for the exam, utilizing available resources and practice materials to hone your skills and build confidence for test day.

Applying to Law School

After successfully completing the LSAT, you must apply to law school. The application process generally includes submitting an application, taking the LSAT, and providing transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. A strong personal statement should encompass information regarding your academic and professional objectives, as well as pertinent experiences or achievements.

Exploring financial aid and scholarship options may also be necessary to fund your legal education. In the following sections, we will provide more information on crafting a compelling personal statement, obtaining strong letters of recommendation, and securing financial aid for your law school journey.

Personal Statement and Letters of Recommendation

A well-crafted personal statement can make a significant impact on your law school application. It allows you to showcase your interests, objectives, accomplishments, and individual qualities. To write an effective personal statement, focus on your passion for the law, your unique experiences, and what sets you apart from other applicants.

In addition to your personal statement, strong letters of recommendation are crucial for your law school application. These letters provide insight into your personality, work ethic, and academic abilities, offering a more intimate view of your qualifications. Cultivate relationships with professors, supervisors, or mentors who can attest to your potential for success in law school and beyond.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Pursuing a legal education can be costly, but financial aid and scholarships can help alleviate the financial burden. Grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships are available for attorney hopefuls studying law in Hawaii. To apply for financial aid and scholarships, you can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or contact the Hawaii Department of Education.

Additional resources for financial aid and scholarships for law students in Hawaii include the Hawaii Bar Association and the Hawaii State Bar Foundation. Taking the time to research and apply for financial assistance can significantly reduce the cost of your legal education and help make your dream of becoming a lawyer in Hawaii a reality.

Taking the Hawaii Bar Exam

Passing the Hawaii bar exam is a requirement for becoming a practicing attorney in the state. The exam consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT) components, and is conducted at the Hawaii Convention Center in downtown Honolulu. Applicants must also secure a scaled score of 85 on the MPRE to take the exam.

The Hawaii bar exam is administered in February and July, following the rules set by the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners. In the next sections, we will provide more information on:

  • The application process

  • Deadlines

  • Study strategies

  • Resources for the Hawaii bar exam

Application Process and Deadlines

You can submit your Hawaii bar exam application online through the Hawaii State Judiciary’s eBar App System or via a traditional paper application. You must follow the Hawaii Bar Application Instructions, including downloading and printing any necessary forms, and return them as soon as possible. The exam fee can also be paid online.

For any inquiries regarding the Hawaii bar exam application process, you may contact or call (808) 539-4977 for further information. Begin the application process early to ensure that you meet all deadlines and requirements.

Study Strategies and Resources

Preparing for the Hawaii bar exam requires dedication and effective study strategies. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  1. Enroll in a comprehensive bar review course to get an overview of exam topics and strategies for studying and taking the exam.

  2. Concentrate on vital legal concepts and make sure you understand them thoroughly.

  3. Practice essay writing to improve your writing skills and ability to analyze legal issues.

  4. Utilize practice questions to familiarize yourself with the format and content of the exam. By following these tips, you can significantly improve your performance on the exam.

In addition to a bar review course, you can access resources such as past exam questions, sample answers, and study guides to supplement your study efforts. Consistent practice and focused study will increase your chances of passing the Hawaii bar exam and becoming a licensed attorney in the state.

Post-Bar Admission

Upon successfully clearing the Hawaii bar exam, you’re all set to commence your legal career in the Aloha State. Job opportunities for newly admitted lawyers in Hawaii include:

  • Private law firms

  • Government agencies

  • Corporate legal departments

  • Public interest law

  • Legal education

  • And more

Networking with other professionals in the legal sector, attending events, and joining professional organizations can help you find employment opportunities and stay informed about the latest developments in the legal field.

Maintaining your law license in Hawaii requires ongoing legal education (CLE). You must complete three hours of mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) annually. In the following sections, we will provide more information on job opportunities, networking, and continuing legal education requirements for lawyers in Hawaii.

Job Opportunities and Networking

As a newly licensed lawyer in Hawaii, a variety of employment opportunities await you in:

  • Private law firms

  • Government agencies

  • Corporate legal departments

  • Public interest law

  • Legal education

  • Other related fields

Networking opportunities are available through local bar associations, networking events, and professional organizations.

Online networking platforms such as LinkedIn and other social media platforms offer additional avenues to connect with legal professionals and potential employers. By actively participating in networking events and engaging with other professionals in the legal sector, you can increase your chances of finding a fulfilling legal career in Hawaii.

Maintaining your law license in Hawaii necessitates continuous legal education (CLE). Lawyers in the state must complete three hours of mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) annually. Nine additional hours of voluntary continuing legal education (VCLE) are encouraged, though not required, on an annual basis.

In addition to meeting CLE requirements, staying current with legal developments and trends will help you better serve your clients and maintain a successful legal practice. Participate in CLE courses, seminars, and workshops to stay informed and enhance your legal knowledge and skills throughout your career.

Salaries and Career Growth for Lawyers in Hawaii

With an average annual salary of $106,520, lawyers in Hawaii can anticipate competitive remuneration. The minimum salary for a lawyer in Hawaii is $113,730 per annum, while the average remuneration for a lawyer in Hawaii is $151,639 per year.

In the following sections, we will provide more information on salary ranges by experience level and the highest paying cities and industries for lawyers in Hawaii.

Salary Ranges by Experience Level

In Hawaii, a lawyer’s salary typically falls within the $114K – $208K per year range. Entry-level salaries for lawyers in Hawaii range from $97,500 to $123,026 annually, with an average salary of $112,875 annually. As you gain experience and develop expertise in your chosen practice area, your earning potential will likely increase.

Beyond your base salary, you could also earn additional income from bonuses and commissions. The estimated additional remuneration for a lawyer in Hawaii is $14,832 per annum.

Highest Paying Cities and Industries

Some of the most lucrative cities for lawyers in Hawaii include Pearl City, Kahului, and Kaneohe. In terms of industries, corporate law, litigation, and real estate law offer the greatest remuneration for lawyers in Hawaii.

When starting your legal career in Hawaii, it’s important to keep in mind your long-term aspirations and preferred practice area. Pursuing a specialization in a high-demand or high-paying area can lead to increased earning potential and career growth.


In conclusion, becoming a lawyer in Hawaii requires a dedicated approach to education, preparation, and networking. From obtaining your undergraduate degree to passing the bar exam and securing a fulfilling legal career, this blog post has provided valuable insights into each step of the process. With the beautiful backdrop of the Aloha State, embarking on a legal career in Hawaii offers a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. So, dive into the exciting world of law and make your dream of becoming a lawyer in paradise a reality!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I become a lawyer in Hawaii?

With a college degree, passing the LSAT, and graduating from an ABA accredited law school, you can become a lawyer in Hawaii by taking the bar exam.

Do you have to go to law school to take the bar in Hawaii?

Yes, you must have a J.D. or L.L.B. from an ABA approved law school, pass the Hawaii Professionalism course, score 85 or higher on the MPRE, and obtain a Certificate of Character & Fitness to be eligible to take the bar in Hawaii.

Does Hawaii have a law school?

Yes, Hawaii has a law school in the form of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. It is ABA-accredited and located in Honolulu.

Does Hawaii accept the Universal Bar exam?

Hawaii does not accept the Universal Bar Exam, as it has jurisdiction-specific components that must also be completed for the Hawaii Bar Exam.

In order to pursue a legal career as an attorney in Hawaii, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution is required.

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