Miyoko T. Pettit

Class of 2015

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Degree, School: BA, American History & Literature, Harvard College, 2011

Why did you choose UH Law?
After living thousands of miles away from Hawaiʻi, I wanted to return home. I sought a smaller, affordable law school with a close-knit community. UH Law School has an excellent faculty and talented alumni community. You also can’t beat going to the beach for a study break!

What were you doing before you started Law School?
I spent a year in Blois, France teaching English to more than three hundred French students (ages 3 to 12). I traveled throughout France and visited Cyprus, Morocco, Spain, and Italy.

Where are you headed after you graduate?
I hope to pursue my legal career in Hawai‘i, or to work for an international law firm.

Describe a highlight of your Law School experience. 
A major highlight was taking the Law Students’ pledge and meeting the Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justices at the Hawai‘i Supreme Court to conclude orientation. UH Law is one of the few schools where you have the opportunity to meet the Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court before ever sitting through your first 1L class!

Describe a fellow student or professor or mentor who has inspired you.
All of the LLM students inspire me to think beyond the boundaries of Richardson. The students are bright, kind, thoughtful, and interesting. They hail from Algeria, Palau, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Japan, Iran, Switzerland, and many other corners of the world. They add to the diversity of the campus, and inspire me in my legal studies. They find themselves studying the law in a foreign language, which is not an easy task even in English, yet they greet everyone on campus with a smile. They never fail to engage me in a conversation or to teach me about the law in their own countries. They epitomize the qualities of a Richardson lawyer, even though many of them only find themselves on our campus for one year.

Describe your favorite organization and some activities related to that organization.
Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education (SPOCE) is dedicated to informing students and the public about the legal system and their civic duties. The group teaches the late Professor Jon Van Dyke’s First Amendment curriculum to local high school students. In the spring, the students participate in the Courts in the Community effort headed by the Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. As part of the Courts in the Community project, SPOCE members brief local high school students on the merits and arguments of an active Hawai‘i Supreme Court case. The high school students have the opportunity to observe the oral arguments of the case and hear the final decision from the judge. Finally, the organization sponsors a DiscoverLaw conference where high school students have the opportunity to visit campus to learn about the legal profession. The wonderful part about SPOCE is that the high school students inspire the law students, and vice versa. SPOCE allows me to combine my interest in teaching and the law while serving others, and allows me to work with other legal professionals in the community towards a common goal.

Describe your UH law school experience in 3 words.
Enjoying the journey.

What advice would you give to an entering law student?
Balance. Do what you love, spend time with people you love, and learn to love. It is important to keep things in perspective—be confident and patient with yourself and others in school. Keep an open mind and be flexible. The process is more important than the result. Be zen. Do good. Spread the aloha. The best is yet to be!

What surprised you most about UH Law? 
Everyone is dedicated to our success during law school and beyond. The faculty and staff go above and beyond to help the students achieve excellence. The professors keep open doors and spend time to speak to students. The administration put on a fun-filled pre-orientation picnic and a valuable three-day orientation for entering 1L students and LLM students. They made us feel part of the Richardson ‘ohana before we even started our first class. There are also countless opportunities to attend guest lectures and speakers to extend our education beyond the required classes.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started law school?
“Keep calm and carry on.” I had heard that the first year of law school is difficult regardless of what school you attend. I wish someone had told me that it was absolutely normal to feel lost and confused the first few weeks of school. The journey is more important than the result---embrace it!

What law school organizations/activities are you involved in?   
Ete (women's flag football team), SPOCE (Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education), Delta Theta Phi, and Student Law Ambassadors.

Which professor has most inspired you the most?  How?
All of my professors are excellent, and each of their teaching styles inspires me to engage with the material in different ways. Professor Avis Poʻai inspires me to achieve my absolute best in her Legal Practice section. I am fortunate to benefit from her dedication and patience with 1L students. Professor Poʻai spends many hours preparing for class, critiquing our work, and providing her students with valuable feedback. She holds herself to the highest standard, and expects her students to do the same.

Where can we find you when you're not in class?
Studying at home or in the library, playing on the defensive line for the Etes, relaxing at the beach, shopping, or trying to learn a new language.

What do you like most about UH Law?
I love that I feel at home on campus. The faculty, administrators, staff, and students create an inviting, peaceful environment. Everyone is dedicated to your success. I also get to see rainbows on a weekly basis, don’t need to wear a coat and boots during the winter months, and can eat a crêpe from the Crêpe Café cart whenever my heart desires!

How would you describe your classmates?
Passionate, intellectual, caring, fun, and humorous. I do not think there is ever a time when I am not laughing during lunch or in class at some hilarious, witty remark. My classmates are some of the nicest people around, and they know how to have fun. For example, at one of our first 1L events, we played dodge ball for hours! My classmates keep things in perspective—they know how to work hard and play hard.

Students Speak

  • UH Law school has not only a good educational program but also diverse cultural environment. I thought I could experience something that I couldn’t get from the Mainland.”
  • Law school teaches me valuable skills while constantly presenting challenges which test and try my abilities.”
  • After reading about law school, I was expecting the professors to publically humiliate the students with the socratic method but it turns out they are quite friendly and even humorous at times.”
  • I chose UH Law because I wanted to experience studying in Hawaiʻi, and I learned that the School has an excellent Environmental Law program. My graduate degree fellowship with the East-West Center is also tied with enrollment at UH.”
  • Be qualified, be prepared, ask if you don't understand, and trust yourself.”
  • I chose UH Law because Hawai'i is my home and I plan on staying here to practice. Also, as a Hawaiian, I am interested in Native Hawaiian Rights under the law, thus, the program here allows me to explore this interest in great depth.”
  • The UH Law community exemplifies the Hawaiian word “ohana.” Students, faculty, and other staff are very friendly and welcoming. There is no aggressive competition between the students, and the professors are welcoming and accessible.”
  • As a practicing attorney in Environmental Law in Japan, I was drawn to the strength of the Environmental Law Program at UH. I am striving to earn a specialization in Environmental Law.”
  • I was working at the Al Lawati law firm which provides legal service to Oman Oil in Oman. I had previously practiced law in Iran since 2001.”
  • I consider the program as a pioneer on the frontier of legal education. One gets to experience the best of legal education while maintaining a critical eye on the process as a whole.”