Tidbits and Thoughts . . .  Legal Aid's Online  News
March 16, 2017

In honor of Prince Kuhio Day
King Kamehameha Day and  Prince Kuhio Day are the only two holidays 
in the United States dedicated to royalty.
As a delegate to the U.S. Congress, Prince Kuhio is also the only person 
ever elected who had been born into royalty.

"Building a Just Society"
Now on to Tidbits!
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Legal Aid launches the Hawaii Legal Services Portal 

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii together with the Hawaii Consortium of Legal Service Providers recently launched the state's first comprehensive legal services portal to direct people needing civil legal help to the most appropriate organizations and resources.  Operating as an automated online triage tool, the Hawaii Legal Services Portal ("Portal") provides legal information and referrals in a simple-to-use, accessible, and efficient way.  

Funding was provided by the Legal Services Corporation's Technology Initiative Grant, a competitive grant to explore new ways to effectively meet the legal needs of low income individuals and families through the use of technology. The Portal has been a year-long project of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, Domestic Violence Action Center, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, The Mediation Center of the Pacific, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, University of Hawaii Elder Law Program of the William S. Richardson School of Law, Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and with support from the Hawaii State Bar Association and the Hawaii State Judiciary.

"I hope that people who use the portal will find the legal system a little easier to access and navigate, gain more confidence through the process, and reach the right places for help from the beginning of their search," states Kara Doles, Portal Project Coordinator for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.  The Portal can be accessed by visiting   www.lawhelp.org/hi/portal  and will also be made available on the Hawaii State Bar Association and Hawaii State Judiciary websites.
Legal Aid on Olelo's Island Focus
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii was part of 'Ōlelo Community Media's new show, Island Focus  hosted by Lyla Berg. The show focuses on the many organizations and people that drive our community forward. Island Focus premieres on 'Ōlelo Channel 53, first Wednesday of every month at 6:30pm, and Sundays at 4:30pm. You can also find Island Focus on 'Ōlelo VOD Channel 52, 'ŌleloNet and 'Ōlelo YouTube.

Learn more about Legal Aid's Wage Theft Program 
The Legal Aid Society of Hawai'i's  Hanahana Justice Project aims to empower  low-wage workers, address wage theft and  labor exploitation, and advance worker  justice through education, outreach,  advocacy, and community lawyering.  Click here to learn more about wage theft or watch the video below.

Legal Aid in the News

Legal Aid on Wheels: A Legal Aid Society of Hawaii Initiative Helps Hawaii's Homeless Population (featured on LSC.gov)

Serving a service area with one of the highest per capita rates of homelessness-paired with the highest per capita living costs-in the country, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii's (LASH's) homeless outreach program fills a critical need.

The program provides holistic civil legal services to Hawaii's homeless population, which totaled 7,921 people in 2015. Its services address family, consumer, housing, immigration, and public benefits concerns, but most of the cases focus on Social Security benefits and identification documentation.

The homeless outreach program team includes one managing attorney, one senior attorney, two paralegals, and one AmeriCorps volunteer. What's unique about the team is how they work and assist clients-on wheels. All of the staff are fully remote-though they might come into one of LASH's offices once a week-and drive mostly around Oahu, stopping at various locations such as homeless shelters, health centers, recovery centers, and veteran services sites.

At these sites, the outreach team conducts intake and completes brief services, such as Social Security applications and appeals. By meeting potential clients at these common points of contact, the outreach team fosters trust and accessibility for individuals who may have barriers to visit LASH's main offices. If the team doesn't come to them, it's possible the client would never or would put off getting the help they need to confront their legal situation.

According to a LASH senior attorney in a Honolulu Star Adviser article, "Typically [homeless people] are not able to show up for a court hearing. They don't have the money to get there. They often don't have identification to get into the building if they need that. And sometimes, the reality is they don't remember what day or time their hearing is. They are just trying to focus on basic needs-how they are going to eat today and to keep their stuff safe when they go to the bathroom."

While the staff's method of transportation is their own vehicles, LASH pays for access to hot spots, their phones, computers, and other necessary technology. Sometimes they are assisted by staff from community health centers, who join for ride-alongs and provide medical assistance while the LASH staff member provides legal assistance. This partnership has been in place since the beginning of the program, acting as an effective, mobile alternative to the more common medical-legal partnerships, which are set up across the country.

Homelessness in Hawaii is a persistent issue, but with efforts such as LASH's homeless outreach program that meet clients where they are, the cycle of homelessness can be broken for many.
Thank you for your support!

Thank you to the Central Pacific Bank Foundation for providing a grant to help Legal Aid improve the delivery of legal services by facilitating communications within its 11 statewide offices.

Dennis Isono (Executive Vice President, Central Pacific Bank), M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina (Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii), Christine Daleiden (Senior Vice President, Senior Legal Counsel & Assistant Corporate Secretary, Central Pacific Bank)

Thank you to the following individuals, law firms, and organizations for their continued support of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and its vision of "Building a Just Society."

Yamamoto & Caliboso
King, Nakamura & Chun-Hoon
Hawaii Community Foundation
David Sgan
Joanne Badua
Peter C.K. Fong
Thank you to Windward Legal Aid managing attorney Stacia Silva

Thank you to outgoing Windward Legal Aid managing attorney Stacia Silva for her 20 years of service at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. Stacia started as a contract paralegal in Kaneohe in 1995, was hired as a staff attorney in 1997, and would eventually become the managing attorney at the Windward office.

Legal Aid's executive director M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina presents outgoing Windward Legal Aid managing attorney Stacia Silva a plaque recognizing her 20 years of service at the organization.
In the Community

Leeward Managing Attorney Russ Awakuni and AmeriCorps Advocate Robert Topenio were part of the Nanakuli High & Intermediate School Pathways to Success Transitional Program event. The program helps introduce families and students in the community to resources to help them overcome challenges they may face outside of school.


Christy Peace, from the Hilo Legal Aid office, was part of an outreach presentation at the Aging and Disability Resource Center. Christy worked with Karyn Clay of Ho'o Nani Place, an adult day center in Waimea, on a presentation centered on the theme,"What a Difference a Document Makes."

AmeriCorps Advocates Robert Topenio and Sophia Henager provide legal information at the Wahiawa Community Fun Fair. 

Honolulu Family unit AmeriCorps Advocate Emily Rivera at the HSTA VEBA Trust Oahu Teachers Institute Day. Organizers of the event thanked Legal Aid for participating, "The teachers that attended our Benefits Fair found the information you provided very interesting." Emily also joined Intake managing attorney, Rob Palin for an informational presentation to seniors at the Senior Residences at Maluhia about legal issues that may affect them.

Welcome new staff 

Legal Aid welcomes Susan Gim Tanaka as its newest staff attorney in the Leeward Legal Aid office.  Susan is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings and was a visiting student at the William S. Richardson School of Law during her last year of law school. She served as a summer law clerk and volunteer at the Leeward Legal Aid office. 

Tatjana Johnson is the new managing attorney of the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center and the Public Benefits unit. Tatjana is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law and served as an AmeriCorps Advocate in the Honolulu office prior to attending law school.
Emil Ryan Romolor  is joining the Honolulu Homeless project as the new Outreach Specialist and brings a wealth of experience to the team.
Legal Aid employment opportunities

For employment opportunities, please visit  www.legalaidhawaii.org  for more information. 
Legal Aid is currently hiring for the following positions:

Family Law Attorney, Honolulu
Paralegal-Seniors, Kauai
Paralegal-Immigrant Victims
Director of Grants Management