Gavin Thornton

  • Lecturer in Law


  • JD University of Virginia School of Law 2002
  • BA University of Minnesota 1999

Gavin began his career with the AmeriCorps program as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi. In 2004 he helped launch the organization that is now the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, where Gavin currently serves as Deputy Director. His work has focused on systemic advocacy that benefits low-income and vulnerable people, including the following:

  • Securing millions of dollars in rent reductions and reimbursements for residents of public housing who had been overcharged for over a decade;
  • Ensuring K-12 students who become homeless can continue attending the school they were in before becoming homeless, avoiding the significant educational setbacks and trauma associated with displacement;
  • Obtaining appropriate utility bill credits for public housing residents with disabilities so they can afford to operate life-supporting medical equipment;
  • Preserving an 850-unit apartment complex in Honolulu as affordable housing;
  • Securing extensive protections against sexual abuse by corrections staff for women in correctional facilities;
  • Obtaining educational services for juveniles detained in adult jails to increase their opportunities for the future and reduce the likelihood of repeat offending.

For his work in subsidized housing, Gavin was awarded the National Housing Law Project’s Housing Justice Award. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Young Lawyers Division of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association, the Hawaiʻi District Court Rules Committee, and the Board of TeamChild, an organization that assists youth at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system.