Our Mission

Lawyers for Equal Justice (LEJ) is a non-profit law firm that advocates for low-income residents of Hawai‘i. The central mission of Lawyers for Equal Justice is to help our clients gain access to the resources, services and fair treatment that they need to realize their opportunities for self-achievement and economic security. Our cases change systems and policies to make justice, equality and opportunity available to everyone.

How We Do Our Work

LEJ carries out its mission by engaging in:

  • Legal advocacy, including the bringing of class actions, to assist low-income residents and communities to enforcement their rights and receive benefits guaranteed by law or governmental policies
  • Legislative and administrative advocacy to ensure that policies, laws and practices affecting low-income residents are well designed and implemented legally, fairly and effectively
  • Legal education to inform low-income individuals and groups of their rights and the options available to exercise those rights
  • Support of the work of other public interest advocates in Hawai‘i through collaborative partnerships that facilitate the sharing of skills and substantive knowledge and coordinated use of resources

Our Values

Central to our mission are the core values held by most people in Hawai‘i, such as fairness, opportunity, community, partnership, responsibility and ensuring equal access to justice for low and moderate income residents.

Highlights of LEJ’s work include:

  • Filing cases that ultimately resulted in over $150 million in repairs and renovations at the state’s two largest public housing projects—Kuhio Park Terrace and Mayor Wright Homes—benefiting over a thousand households. The cases helped to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions families had endured for years, including a lack of hot water, pervasive maintenance deficiencies, vermin infestations, unsanitary trash disposal, inoperable elevators, sewage backups, and fire hazards.
  • Obtaining an injunction requiring the State of Hawai‘i to process food stamp applications in accordance with federal timeframes. As a result, the percentage of applications that are timely processed has improved from a low of around 60 percent to over 95 percent, meaning that the almost 100,000 low-income families who participate in SNAP each month now have access to the food they need when they need it.
  • Securing an injunction and settlement to ensure that hundreds of homeless K-12 students can continue attending the school they were in before their families lost their homes, avoiding the significant educational setbacks and trauma associated with displacement.
  • Recovering over three million dollars in rent reimbursements for thousands of subsidized housing residents who had been overcharged by the State of Hawai‘i and other landlords, who had failed to adjust the rent in response to increased utilities costs. We also obtained future rent reductions in these cases amounting to more than a million dollars each year going forward.
  • Reaching a settlement agreement requiring the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation to provide translated driver’s license for non-native English speakers. It is projected that the translated driver’s examinations will be used by over 4,000 people per year, allowing Hawai?i’s limited-English proficient residents the opportunity to obtain the license they need to get to work and care for their families.
  • Securing a settlement the will increase the amount paid for the care of over 6,000 children involved with with the foster care system to account for 24 years of no inflation adjustments prior to our filing of the case. The settlement benefits will amount $85 million over the next 10 years.

LEJ is a project of Hawai‘i Appleseed.