UH Law Student Recognized as One of Top Law Students Nationwide

Meleana ‘Mana’ Shim

Richardson Law School student Meleana ‘Mana’ Shim was honored among the law students named 2022 Law Student of the Year in National Jurist magazine.

The Student of the Year honor is an annual feature in the spring issue of National Jurist prelaw magazine which recognizes talented, exceptional law students with a dedication to their community. Shim was selected from approximately 200 ABA-accredited law schools nationwide.

The current third-year law student and retired professional soccer player is committed to activism, athletics, mental health, and public service.

Professor Dina Shek said, “Mana is both unafraid and self-aware, and she is a constant and supportive student, classmate, and ally.”

Shim has courageously spoken out against sexual misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), working towards policy changes and using her voice to raise awareness to ensure a safer environment for athletes, advocating for change within the league nationally as well as locally in Hawai‘i – all while a full-time law student.

Molly Levinson, advisor to the U.S. Women’s National Team players, recognized Shim’s courage in speaking out publicly. “Mana Shim embodies the qualities of an extraordinary advocate, trusted counsellor, visionary leader, and courageous change maker. Behind the scenes, she has made even more of a difference, dedicating her time, energy, and numerous talents to a wholesale re-making of league leadership, culture, policies, and procedures. It is both comforting and inspiring to know that she is the future of the law,” Levinson said.

Shim’s exceptional dedication showed in her work with the Office of the Public Defender along with her work ethic, commitment, and compassion for clients. Assistant Public Defender Lee S. Hayakawa said, “Every attorney Mana worked with was impressed by not only her work, but her enthusiasm and sincerity. Her insight and grasp of the nuances of criminal defense trial work were unexpectedly advanced.”

She is also committed to mental health and has been an active member of Richardson Law School’s Mental Health Committee, speaking on LGBT and mental health issues, and continuing to work towards change and awareness. Shim also engaged in mental health community outreach as a volunteer for the Institute of Human Services.

The inaugural student member of the Law School’s wellness committee, Shim is also co-president of Lawyers Against Sexual Violence and the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, an academic center that promotes education, scholarship, community outreach and collaboration on issues of law, culture and justice for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific and Indigenous peoples. She was awarded the Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) grant and worked for the Hawaii Land Trust, an organization with a mission to protect and steward the lands that sustain Hawai’i, and to perpetuate Hawaiian values by connecting people with ‘āina (land).

Shim was a member of Richardson Law School’s inaugural Island Leadership Lab seminar, an immersive leadership experience focused on training next-generation leaders for success; the initiative was launched by Law School Dean Camille Nelson.

Dean Camille Nelson said, “I am inspired by Mana’s courageous leadership. Her integrity and bravery are carving a better path for those in similar situations, and those seeking to effect transformative justice-seeking change in myriad spaces and places. I am grateful for her empathy, dedication, and tireless advocacy.”

Richardson has had law students recognized in previous years, including Mahesh Cleveland in 2018 and Katherine Vessels in 2016 .