Meheula: Still Racing, Having Fun

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - April 02, 2008
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Attorney Bill Meheula has switched from triathlons to kayaks
Attorney Bill Meheula has switched from triathlons to kayaks

Attorney Bill Meheula was stung by the competitive bug early in his life.

“I started swimming at the age of 8, practicing two times a day, five days a week and competing on weekends,” he says. “I got used to racing and testing my drive early, and it became a part of my life.”

At the age of 55, the racing and testing has not stopped.

“I enjoy sitting at the starting line and feeling that anxiety and adrenaline rush before a big race,” he says. “I experienced that energy while competing in triathlons, and now I’m feeling it in the ocean as a paddler.”

These days, Meheula gets his dose of competition on a surfski, often called a kayak. He took up the sport five years ago after developing knee problems while competing in triathlons.

“The first two years it was all about learning how to use a surfski,” says Meheula. “Now, I try to get in the ocean five to six times a week, and I’m much more competitive in races.”

Meheula is more than just competitive - he is often at the top of the leader board, beating much younger opponents. He says that inner drive to compete is one reason why he chose to be a trial lawyer.

“I gravitated to litigation because there is always a winner and loser, and I enjoy new challenges,” he says. “A lot of people who have success in this field are former athletes.”

Meheula certainly has had his share of success. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in 1975, Meheula attended Suffolk University Law School, where he graduated in 1978. In 1994, he joined Winer, Meheula and Devens, where his practice concentrates on civil and commercial litigation. The Punahou alum also focuses much of his energy representing Native Hawaiians.

“It’s something I am passionate about,” he says proudly.

In 1994, Meheula received the Hawaii State Bar Association’s “Justice Award” for his pro bono work while serving the Hawaiian community. Since 2003, he has represented the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in some of its legal issues with the state of Hawaii.

The demands of a successful and sometimes controversial professional career often call for an outlet.

“That’s what’s nice about paddling - everyone is the same in the ocean,” says Meheula. “Everyone wants to escape from their daily lives at some point and this is my out. When I’m out there, I’m not an attorney - I’m just another athlete.”

He just happens to be a great athlete. Maintaining a winning edge while balancing a career in law can be difficult and, at times, frustrating. He says the challenges increase on those weeks when it seems “there’s no end in sight.”

“When I get to that point, I remind myself to stay in the moment, and that’s when everything settles down,” he says.

It’s a concept he applies in the courtroom and his ocean playground. “Thinking about how you’re going to feel at the end is not the way to go - I need to focus on the now,” says Meheula.

Especially since the next case or race is just around the corner.


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