Island People Moving to Hawaii for Law Careers

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Lava field on Big Island, Hawaii.

Lava field on Big Island, Hawaii.

This email was interesting. I’ll respond below her email.

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Hi Vern,

I’ve been reading your blog recently and decided I’d email you and see if you responded. My husband and I just recently started thinking about making the move to Hawaii!!!! Oahu to be exact! What’s weird is that we have never been there! However, we are island people! We’ve been pretty lucky in the travel area and have ventured to Antigua (he’s gone every summer for the past 8 or 9 years and I went three years out of the last 5), Puerto Rico (where my family is from), St. Maarten, and even Bali. We’re big island people and we love the atmosphere and the idea of living in Hawaii. We currently live in Connecticut and are in need of some change. We are getting a bit tired of the cold weather and the fast paced lifestyle. Like I said, we really have always been island people at heart and we’re ready for the adventure. I know we would probably visit before making the final decision, but I wanted your input on something I’ve been having trouble researching.

The both of us are 26 years old and just graduated from Law School in May 2012 and thankfully passed the bar exam back in September 2012. We are now able to practice law in the state of CT. Ideally we would love to land a job as paralegals or legal assistants in Hawaii until we are able to take the bar exam in Hawaii. The plan then would be to pass the bar exam and then be able to practice law in Hawaii. I have been looking on career type websites for attorney positions and have been lucky to find a few but I’m just not sure what the “market” is like for attorneys in Hawaii. Does it sound plausible that we could land a job as paralegals and then rise as attorneys?

We have talked it over and thought we would rent out our condo back home for a couple $100 profit. This would help us to pay for our rent in Hawaii. We would like to rent something in Oahu, not purchase. We do have one car that we would probably ship with us. As far as savings goes, by the time we move we would probably have at least $5,000 – $8,000 but we’re hoping to be able to save a little more than that by moving day.

With all of your knowledge and experience, what’s your opinion of two young lawyers making the move from the Northeast to the beautiful island of Hawaii?!?

Thanks so much for your advice!


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Hmm, lawyers huh? I hope you both signed an extensive pre-nup before you got married!

The first thing I’d better say is that Bali, Antigua, Puerto Rico, though I’ve been to none of them – are likely not much like Hawaii. Well, Oahu is likely not much like them. Oahu is more like New York City on a Beach. You can get away to the Hamptons (North Shore) or relax upstate, but Oahu is not really the laid back place that everyone thinks it is.

Now, if you’re talking about one of the other islands – yes, it’s island life at its best. And it’s expensive… but, who cares, you’re in the best place on the planet. What’s $3,000 rent for a decent 3 bedroom house? You said “Hawaii” a couple times as if you were talking about the island – Big Island, which is known as Hawaii. Is that where you want to move? If yes, I’d say you must go there first to see if there are even any paralegal jobs. I think you must be thinking of moving to Oahu, otherwise, the population on Big Island just couldn’t support many lawyers. There would be very few job openings there.

I have to tell you that I know absolutely nothing about the opportunities that exist in Hawaii for Lawyers. Nothing. I couldn’t even guess. That said, I’ll have a look at Craigslist and see what they think…

A search for “lawyer” found 2 ads on all islands over the last 6 weeks. Paralegal found 23. So yeah, there are paralegal jobs there, but whether or not you’ll both be able to transition right into lawyer jobs after you pass the bar – is anyone’s guess, just from looking at Craigslist. Isn’t there a national jobs database catering to lawyers? Seems like there might be.

Chances are good that CL is not the place most law firms are using to find prospective employees. Do a search on “lawyer jobs in hawaii”. I just did and found a lot of job services that have jobs listed.

I don’t know that I can be much help other than what I’ve offered. Since you haven’t been to the islands, and to Oahu in particular, since that is likely where you’ll need to be for jobs, I STRONGLY suggest you both go visit and see whether you think it matches your idea of island life or not. My guess is – Oahu won’t match it. You can find parts of the island that are beautiful.. but people are not so laid back as Maui, Big Isle, or Kauai.

Anyway, good luck to you both!


Peter Kay

[Photo by Yinghai at CC.]

About the Author:

I’ve lived Hawaii since the mid ‘80s when I moved here at the age of 21. I arrived site-unseen in Honolulu with zero contacts and about $5k in savings. I worked from nearly zero and today Hawaii has given me the greatest gifts in the world in all aspects: spiritually, financially, romantically (married since early ‘90s w/ 2 children), and most important, peace. My goal with this site is to share the magic of this Land of Aloha and help others who are on a similar quest.

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