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Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law Students Provide Pro Bono Services to Maui Wildfire Survivors



December 7, 2023 – Malibu, CA – Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law and Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) are actively partnering on a pro bono project for Native Hawaiians impacted by the Maui wildfire disaster.

“The Hawaiian people are our Pacific neighbors, and we will always offer support and Aloha, just as the people of Hawaii would do for us,” said Peter Fendel, executive director of externship and pro bono programs at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law. “We are honored as a University and a Law School to serve the Native Hawaiian population of Maui.”

The Pepperdine Caruso Law Pro Bono Program, part of the Clinical Education Program, has partnered with NHLC to provide direct legal assistance to survivors of the fires that destroyed the Town of Lahaina in August of 2023. Caruso Law students are actively working with NHLC attorneys to assist with FEMA and SBA appeals, and ensuring survivors have pro bono legal assistance to navigate the federal disaster relief process. Caruso Law student-volunteers provide NHLC attorneys with additional capacity for more efficient in-person legal services in the disaster zone.

To date, 19 second and third-year Caruso Law students have generously volunteered to provide supervised legal services for their Hawaiian neighbors in their time of need. All student-volunteers are working while attending classes full time, many while externing at law firms or government agencies, without expectation of compensation or academic credit.

The partnership with NHLC builds on Caruso Law's extensive experience providing pro bono legal services through its Disaster Relief Clinic, beginning in 2017 in response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, and continuing for years after 2018 in the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire that devastated Malibu and Pepperdine's own community.

About Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law

The Caruso School of Law offers a top-ranked legal education with nationally recognized degree programs committed to the highest principles of professional, ethical, and societal responsibility. With an emphasis on experiential learning, mentorship, faculty accessibility, global justice, and professional formation, Pepperdine Caruso Law offers a juris doctor, two master’s degrees, six joint-degree programs, seven LLM degrees, and five certificate programs. The School of Law houses several clinics and five institutes, including the globally recognized Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. Follow Pepperdine Caruso School of Law on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation

Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation’s mission is to protect and advance Native Hawaiian identity and culture. NHLC carries out its mission by integrating Kanaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiian) values into the practice of law and advocacy in courts and before administrative agencies. Its work contributes to the protection and preservation of Native Hawaiian culture, identity, health, and well being. NHLC provides Native Hawaiian families and communities with legal advocates to navigate legal challenges in which Native Hawaiian rights are at stake.


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