Committed To Legal Ideals

By Richard Turbin
Wednesday - March 23, 2005
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Hard at work are Paulette Suwa, Richard Turbin,
Wayne Parsons and Lyn Flanigan

When I started practicing law back in the late 1960s, I was energized with idealism and thoughts of changing the world to make it better place for everyone.

That’s why I joined the Peace Corps and worked as a lawyer in Western Samoa in 1969. I was young and wanted the adventure of serving people in a positive, important way. I lived with a Samoan family in a two-story hut called a fale, and worked as a deputy attorney general. It was truly an exciting and interesting experience for this young Harvard Law School graduate, who just left the bustling city life of the Northeast.

As Hawaii State Bar Association’s (HSBA) 2005 president, I am committed to rekindle the spirit of idealism and public service in the hearts and minds of Hawaii’s lawyers. My hope is to establish a legacy of commitment to pro bono law to benefit the people of Hawaii. Our lawyers have been very generous with their time, donating free legal services to the people of Hawaii who cannot afford lawyers. But we can do more!

The globalization of the practice of law is upon us, and I am committed to help make Hawaii the legal nucleus of Asia and the Pacific. Our main objective of promoting Hawaii as the legal nucleus and “the gathering place” for lawyers East and West will be initiated by creating an international component for this year’s state bar convention scheduled for Oct. 20 and 21 at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort.

The Mongolian Bar Association, the China Normal Law School of Beijing, the William S. Richardson School of Law and the Inter Pacific Bar Association will participate in the convention. Cutting-edge issues in Asia/Pacific law practice such as international arbitration and mediation, immigration, trade and business and human rights will be discussed.

By networking more with other Asia Pacific Bar leaders, we can foresee exciting opportunities for Hawaii’s lawyers. The goal is to bring more international legal work to Hawaii and to create opportunities to practice or teach law in Asia.

Eventually, I would like to see the HSBA become a clearing house for international legal matters and opportunities. Schools teaching American legal principles are spreading like wildfire in Japan, and catching on in China as well. This could be a wonderful opportunity for Hawaii lawyers to practice and teach law in Asia for many years into the future.

Public service is one of the greatest things people can do to improve the world we share. It’s that ideal that inspired me to study and practice law — and the guiding principle behind my practice.

To promote more pro bono work among HSBA members, we are creating better ties and coordination between the HSBA and organizations like Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii, Legal Aid of Hawaii and Na Loio, which helps indigent immigrants. We will inspire lawyers to join these groups to help people in need of legal services. We are also working with the state Legislature to raise the rate of compensation for court-appointed criminal defense lawyers who represent indigent defendants.

Additionally, the HSBA would like to continue giving recognition
to Hawaii lawyers who are already doing wonderful pro bono work. This month, the HSBA and I established a Pro Bono Volunteer Lawyer Award. The idea is meant to inspire other lawyers to step forward and look for ways to give back to their community.

I can tell you from personal experience the feeling you get after helping people is always good. It really re-energizes you, and that’s what I want for the Hawaii State Bar Association — a big dose of idealistic energy that will last for many years to come. Next: Tanya Schwartz, president of the Hawaii Pyschological Association


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