Save Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii!

Very, very sobering news this week where I learned that Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH) may be on its last financial legs.  For those unfamiliar with VLSH, it is a non-profit “formed in 1981 by members of the Young Lawyers Division of the Hawai’i State Bar Association. Volunteer Legal’s mission is to help low-income people and families achieve access to justice.”  Basically, VLSH is the main clearinghouse to place low-income people with volunteer attorneys throughout the state.  And this year, after over 30 years, it may have to close its doors.
Thousands of Hawaii residents have been helped by VLSH over the years, all of whom would not otherwise been able to afford an attorney to help them.  Residents who have needed help in the areas of family law, consumer issues, landlord-tenant, employment, and many other fields would have no one else to turn to, have been  able to utilize Volunteer Legal.  Yet at this point, it is on the brink of closure, due to lack of funding.
If VLSH is forced to close its doors, it will be a sad and shameful event for me as a Hawaii lawyer.  I still believe that it is a privilege not a right, to practice law as an attorney — and with that privilege comes a responsibility to assist those without the ability to afford an attorney.  While we cannot address all those individuals who cannot obtain a lawyer, VLSH represents our efforts and our good faith to help who we can.
Volunteer Legal need financial support from the State Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Hawaii State Bar Association.  If you believe in the efforts of VLSH, write or call to show your support:
For those people who would really like to show their support, some of us will be wearing green ribbons to raise awareness of VLSH’s current situation.  Green ribbons will be available at the VLSH office (545 Queen Street) and the Family Court 3rd floor counter, in Kapolei.
I realize that in the current economy finances are difficult for just about every non-profit organization as well as the State government, but we cannot let this invaluable organization go down with little more than a whimper.  I hope you will help.
— Gavin, 3/13/2012

(3/17/2012 UPDATE:  keep up on news about helping VLSH on the Facebook Group:  Save Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii)

About Gavin K. Doi

Gavin, a founding partner of Doi/Luke, was born and reared in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, graduating from McKinley High School, and receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in Denver, Colorado. Previously, Gavin worked with the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Clinic. An advocate of pro bono legal work, Gavin volunteers time with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and the Hawai’i State Bar Association. In 2013, Gavin co-authored the book Child Custody Litigation and Settlements (Aspatore Books/Thomson West), penning the section "Working with Your Client Towards a Successful Child Custody Case." Gavin is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association and the HSBA Family Law Section, and was presented with the 2002 Justice Award by the Hawaii State Bar Association, which honors one lawyer annually for their outstanding contribution to the ideals of justice. The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission honored Gavin in 2012 for his pro bono service to the community. Gavin has extensive experience in divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, restraining orders, and other family law matters, and has a Distinguished rating with Martindale-Hubble®/, and an Avvo rating of 10 out of 10. He can be e-mailed at: .

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