Student Experiences at NHLC

Part of the kuleana of all attorneys is to contribute to the development of rising lawyers, and developing the rising generation of indigenous rights advocates is one of NHLC’s strategic priorities.

NHLC hosts legal and undergraduate interns each summer, and regularly hosts students for short term service trips, pro bono projects, and externships throughout the year.

How to Apply

The application cycle for Summer 2024 is now closed.

NHLC participates in the fall and spring on campus interview processes at the University of Hawai’i Richardson School of Law.

NHLC also accepts applications from students across the country at any time for summer work, and other experience during the school year, i.e., for externships and service projects. For the summer program, NHLC recommends that students send in their application materials starting in January. Applicants should send their application materials to Applications should include a resume, most recent transcript, and a cover letter explaining:

  • why you are interested in working at NHLC,
  • relevant experiences that have lead you to an interest in NHLC,
  • the kind of work you are interested in doing at NHLC,
  • the type of experience you are seeking, e.g., summer internship, externship, short term service project, etc.,
  • your preferred dates for your work at NHLC, and
  • whether you have public interest funding support from your school or a different program to support your student experience. This is not required, but helpful to understand.


NHLC accepts applications starting in January of each year and makes offers on a rolling basis until we reach the maximum amount of students that we can accomodate. There is not a fixed number each year. Capacity depends upon financial resources, physical space, and capacity for supervision on the team. That said, in the most recent two years, NHLC has hosted classes composed of more than 10 students including law school and undergraduate students.

Due to deeply constrained resources, in most years NHLC only has funding to support 1 to 3 paid intern positions. Most frequently, if students are not receiving one of NHLC’s few paid intern roles, students who summer at NHLC receive financial support from their own law school’s public interest summer funding program. In some instances, students receive credit or work at NHLC to satisfy required volunteer hours to meet graduation requirements, and in those situations they are not usually paid.

No, interns are responsible for securing their own housing. NHLC is happy to provide interns with information regarding resources that may be helpful in securing housing.

Yes, NHLC frequently hosts students during the school year completing externships, required volunteer service hours for graduation, or participating in special service projects, e.g., spring break service experiences. Contact us to discuss options for in-school year experiences at NHLC.

No, many students travel to Hawaii for student learning and work experiences at NHLC. Though NHLC does not have the resources to fund that travel, so long as a student wants and can make the journey, primary residence in Hawai’i is not required. That said, NHLC prefers for students to have a demonstrated interest in indigenous rights, and specific experience with Native Hawaiian rights is beneficial.

Most students have at least 1 year of law school experience behind them when they come to NHLC, and they complete legal assignments appropriate for their readiness. Student assignments are kept in a database. Though urgent assignments are sometimes offered to students in person, individually or in meetings, most assignments are put into the database and students are provided the opportunity to select their projects based on their capacity and interest. All assignments are completed under the supervision of a staff attorney. Assignments vary widely from traditional research and writing, opportunities to shadow and assist with client engagement and case proceedings, and opportunities to develop and implement firm policies and processes, as examples.

An important part of NHLC’s summer program is also the opportunity for students to participate in traditional and cultural practices. Those experiences can vary from workshops to learn language, chants, crafts, farming practices, and more.