Paddling Passion

How Matt Menzer found his ‘ohana’

Published in 2023 Washington Super Lawyers magazine

By Beth Taylor on July 27, 2023


Matt Menzer was first drawn to outrigger canoe paddling while living—where else? In Honolulu. He was serving there as a federal judicial law clerk starting in 1989, after graduating from Berkeley Law. There were a few important things holding him back. “Participating in a sport that embodies Hawaiian culture was very appealing to me, but with a new career and a newborn, my personal time was really limited,” he says.

During his clerkship, he met his legal mentor, Philip Lowenthal, a criminal defense attorney in Wailuku, Maui, with whom Menzer worked on civil and criminal litigation matters in Hawaii from 1990-1992.

After raising his family and establishing Menzer Law in Seattle in 2002 (followed in 2019 by a branch in Maui), Menzer finally had some free time. He decided eight years ago to join the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club, which recently marked its quarter-century anniversary. Menzer served for several years as vice president of the group, which does its practice paddling on Lake Washington.

“SOCC is a true ‘ohana,’” he says, “a close-knit family of diverse, inclusive, and active men and women with a passion for paddling and respect for Hawaiian culture. We paddle six-person outrigger canoes year-round, pushing ourselves and each other while having as much fun as possible.” In spring and summer, they compete in races throughout the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Menzer says canoeing and lawyering require the same basic attributes: “Both endeavors incorporate teamwork, tradition, community, competition and sportsmanship and—to be successful—a constant drive to improve your knowledge and skills.”

Menzer gets in some paddling time on Lake Washington with the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club.

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