Advocating for justice by making legal services accessible – that’s one of the passions of Charles Greenfield, a longtime supporter, and former Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i.
The spark started when Charles, who also goes by “Chuck,” was a young legal aid lawyer in San Jose, California. As his interest grew, it relocated him to different states and countries. He served in various roles as lawyer, consultant, and executive director - in Northern Virginia, Washington D.C., Guam, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Saipan, the Federal States of Micronesia, American Samoa, and the Republic of Palau.
Chuck’s time in Hawaii as Legal Aid’s Executive Director from 2006 to 2009 was short but meaningful.
He faced three significant challenges when he started at Legal Aid: (1) the high number of residents facing critical civil legal needs throughout the islands; (2) a Legal Services Corporation restriction preventing Legal Aid from representing Hawaii residents who were from the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau; and (3) Legal Aid’s low salary levels.
To meet the tremendous need for civil legal services, Chuck aggressively promoted the telephone intake system, now called “Intake,” expanded Legal Aid’s outreach efforts, and increased and improved partnerships with community groups and government entities.
Chuck led the effort, with support from others, to successfully convince the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation to change its regulation to allow for representation by Legal Aid of Micronesians living in Hawaii.
In an attempt to raise salaries paid to Legal Aid employees, he received the support of Legal Aid’s Board of Directors to increase salaries. Another achievement was working in collaboration with others to establish the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission. Chuck was a member of the first Hawaii Access to Justice Commission.
“To make justice real, we need to ensure that people have access to legal aid. We can help them get relief, or fight discrimination,” says Chuck. “There are so many people whose lives are being trampled on because they don’t know their rights.”
Chuck is now retired with 45 years of legal aid work under his belt. But he is far from done in helping the community. He recently finished serving as interim executive director for American Samoa Legal Aid, and also retired as general counsel for Micronesian Legal Services Corporation. He lives on the Big Island.
He is calling on lawyers to lend a hand, or a voice, in this advocacy.
“As lawyers we have an obligation to see that people are treated fairly under law,” says Chuck. “We have an obligation to see that something is done to help those with unmet legal needs. One way is to contribute money or time to Legal Aid.”
According to Chuck, Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i is one of the premier legal aid programs he has seen throughout the country with its “innovative programs, excellent leadership team and wonderful staff.”
“The future is bright for the organization, but it needs money and volunteer lawyers,” he stresses. “It is important for the community in Hawaii to contribute to Legal Aid so we can help them staff up for the challenge and help bring positive outcomes for residents. We need to help make justice real for our community.”
That’s why he donates to Legal Aid, Chuck says.
“So many people are facing critical challenges. There is certainly something we can do about that. Good legal advocacy can bring them much-needed relief.”
9/16/2022 01:45:12 pm
We have an obligation to see that something is done to help those with unmet legal needs. I truly appreciate your great post!
9/16/2022 01:51:44 pm
It is important for the community in Hawaii to contribute to Legal Aid so we can help them staff up for the challenge and help bring positive outcomes for residents. Thank you for sharing your great post!
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12/6/2022 02:50:13 pm
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2/10/2023 10:59:50 pm
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3/9/2023 08:35:40 am
Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i is one of the premier legal aid programs he has seen throughout the country with its innovative programs, excellent leadership team and wonderful staff. Thank you, amazing post!
3/9/2023 09:00:23 am
Also retired as general counsel for Micronesian Legal Services Corporation. Thank you for taking the time to write a great post!
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3/27/2023 07:35:39 pm
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3/28/2023 10:09:11 pm
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4/4/2023 04:05:21 pm
I completely agree with the sentiment expressed in this blog post - we need more lawyers fighting for fair treatment under the law. It's disheartening to see so many cases of injustice and discrimination, and it's crucial that those who have the knowledge and skills to fight against these injustices use their talents to do so. It's not just a matter of doing the right thing - it's also about upholding the principles of our legal system and ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice. We should encourage and support more lawyers who are committed to fighting for fairness and equality, and work together to create a more just and equitable society for all.
4/6/2023 03:23:19 am
Charles Greenfield's story is inspiring, and his call to action for lawyers to lend their time and resources to legal aid organizations is important. Access to justice is a fundamental right, and legal aid is crucial to ensuring that everyone has a fair chance in our legal system. I commend Mr. Greenfield's work and encourage others to follow in his footsteps and support legal aid organizations in their communities.
4/12/2023 11:47:18 am
If you know of any lawyers working towards promoting fairness and justice through their practice, consider giving them your support in any way possible. Whether it is by hiring them for legal services, recommending them to others with similar needs, amplifying their work through social media—or simply donating money towards their cause—we must do our part in empowering those with a passion for creating change through the legal process.
5/1/2023 09:43:39 am
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5/20/2023 11:42:42 am
Thanks for your post.
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