James H. Pietsch

  • Professor of Law
  • Director, University of Hawaiʻi Elder Law Program
  • Adjunct Professor of Geriatric Medicine & Psychiatry, John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • The Hung Wo & Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community


  • AB Georgetown University 1970
  • JD Catholic University 1974


James H. Pietsch joined the law school after first having served on active duty in the US Army Medical Service Corps and the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and subsequently serving as the directing attorney of the Honolulu Elder Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society of Hawai'i. At the law school he teaches Law, Aging and Medicine, Elder Law Clinic, Advanced Elder Law Clinic, and Health Law: Bioethics. He also holds a joint appointment at the John A. Burns School of Medicine where he specializes in issues at the intersection of law, aging, medicine, bioethics and psychiatry.

Professor Pietsch serves as the law school Pro Bono faculty advisor, and supervises the University of Hawai'i Elder Law Program (UHELP). UHELP provides year-round direct legal services at the law school to socially and economically needy older persons. Professor Pietsch is a recipient of the Paul Lichterman Award for outstanding achievement in the advancement of legal services for older persons.

In 2007 Professor Pietsch volunteered to serve as a Special Advisor to the Law and Order Task Force of the Multi-National Force-Iraq and subsequently served as a Rule of Law Advisor to the U.S. Embassy Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team and Kurdistan Regional Reconstruction Team in Iraq. More recently he served as a consultant for a US Pacific Command Rule of Law project in Timor Leste and a USAID-sponsored Access to Justice project back in Iraq. His Rule of Law work continues in Hawai'i as the faculty adviser to the law school’s Hammurabi Legal Forum.


  • Alternatives to Guardianship and Supported Decision Making, chapter in Comparative Perspectives on Adult Guardianship (Pending, Carolina Academic Press 2012)
  • “Teaching Elder Law at the University of Hawaii—Integrating Health Law and Cultural Issues into the Curriculum,” 40 Stetson Law Review 263 (2010).
  • Co-author with L. Lee, Deciding What’s Next? A Legal Handbook for Hawai'i's Caregivers, Families and Older Persons, City and County of Honolulu, Elderly Affairs Division, Publisher, 2010.
  • “Creating a Culture of Caring at the End of Life in Hawai'i–-Ten Years of Progress Since the Final Report Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Living and Dying With Dignity,” Canadian Journal of Elder Law Vol. 1 (2009)
  • "Who's Afraid of Protecting Older Persons? -- Addressing the False Illusion of Having to Keep 'Elder' Out of Elder Abuse Laws," Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy Vol. 16 (2009)
  • Elder Law Update, HAWAI`I STATE BAR JOURNAL, April 2009.


  • Braun, K., Pietsch, J. & Blanchette, P. (Editors) (2000). Cultural Issues in End of Life Decision Making, Sage Publications.
  • Pietsch, J. & Lee, L. (1998). The Elder Law Hawaii Handbook--Protecting Your Health, Wealth, and Personal Wishes, University of Hawaii Press, 1998. 1999 Ka Palapala Po’okela Award.
  • Pietsch, J. The Akamai Kupuna, A Handbook for Hawaii's Older Adults. Seven Editions, 1991-1997--1994 Ilima Award.


  • The Secretary of the Army Award for Public Service (2010)
  • Direct Legal Services and Caregivers Programs under Title III of the Older Americans Act, grant from the City and County of Honolulu to fund the legal services component of the University of Hawai‘i Elder Law Program.
  • Annual grants from the Hawai‘i Justice Foundation to supplement the direct services program of UHELP.
  • Annual grants from the Judiciary Indigent Legal Assistance Fund to supplement the direct services program of UHELP.