Richardson worthy of new honor
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Today, William S. Richardson will be among only seven lawyers nationwide who will be honored with the American Bar Association's Spirit of Excellence Award in Florida. Established by the ABA's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the profession, the award recognizes the achievments of lawyers who contribute to the profession and society.
As the namesake of Hawai'i's own Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, Richardson's resume reads like a law student's wish list: accomplished in private practice, lieutenant governor, Democratic chairman, president of the Hawai'i State Bar.
But it was in his role as the first Native Hawaiian chief justice of the Hawai'i Supreme Court, serving from 1966 to 1982, that he made an impact on the state's legal system and established what will surely be his legacy.
The self-proclaimed "local boy" played a major role in incorporating Hawai'i's unique culture with the law. Under his leadership, the court expanded Native Hawaiian rights.
Richardson also paved the way for the thousands of minorities and the disadvantaged who otherwise might not have sought careers in law. He fought to create educational and professional opportunities for these underrepresented groups. At age 87, he still mentors students while keeping an office at the law school.
His efforts have rightly earned him praise at home. And it's good to see his work garner the national attention it deserves.