Win graduated from Yale University in 1972 with a degree in Philosophy. After discovering, as most college
students with a Philosophy degree do, that the major Philosophy firms weren’t hiring, Win decided to go to law
school. He chose the University of Idaho College of Law.
Yale University to University of Idaho is an uncommon path. It was, of course, not the first time Win had chosen
what appeared to be the unconventional. This decision wasn’t an accident, but rather was a well reasoned, fully
logical choice for Win.
One of the primary criteria for law school selection for Win was access to good skiing. The University of Idaho
College of Law apparently had an exceptionally good brochure describing in glowing terms its access to great
skiing. This sealed the deal for Win, and he and Lorrie moved to Moscow, Idaho.
Win excelled at law school, and after graduating he earned a highly coveted clerkship with Idaho Federal Court
Judge Ray McNichols.
Win then began his legal career as a licensed lawyer in Idaho, taking a job at the prominent Boise, Idaho law firm of
Hawley Troxell Ennis & Hawley.
As a lawyer licensed in Idaho, Win was subject to the Idaho Rules of Professional conduct. The preamble to those
rules provides a definition of a lawyer that is useful in remembering Win’s legal career:
A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a
public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.
As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an
informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As
advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the clients position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a
lawyer seeks to a result advantageous to the client but consistent with the requirements of honest dealings with
Win worked at Hawley Troxell for 12 years; he has been gone from the firm for 21 years. His reputation in the firm
for zealous representation is still legendary.
We all know Win did nothing halfway; if he was going to do something, it was all-in, one hundred percent, whether
it be running, geneaology, photography, or the other passions Win pursued.
Win’s approach to the practice of the law was no different.
As an advisor, Win was a careful and knowledgeable student of the law, and his research and writing skills were
second to none. He was always able to explain the intricacies of the rules of law in language that his clients could
understand, and he excelled at explaining the practical implications of those rules.
As an advocate, and as a trial lawyer at Hawley Troxell, Win’s devotion to the cause of the client was utter,
complete and 24/7.
He once tried a three month long trial where he slept no more than 4 hours a night, and often much less. If the
zealous representation of his client meant that he didn’t sleep much, so be it.
On another matter defending a national publisher, his tireless work at trial resulted in the judge dismissing the case
at the close of the Plaintiff’s case in chief. Win’s cross examination in that case of the Plaintiff’s financial expert was
so devastating that the expert finally admitted on the witness stand that his arithmetic calculations were just plain
Win had spent so much time at the office preparing for that case, sleeping only an hour or two a night on the
reception area couch, that after the dismissal the partners demanded that Win stay away from the office for a few
weeks to reconnect with his family.
Not wanting to waste the time, Win used that vacation to paint his house.
Win was known for his extensive briefing. It was not uncommon for Win to file court memoranda (“legal briefs”)
that were at the outer boundaries of page limitations. They always contained extensive footnotes. One such filing
had 186 footnotes.
Win’s research, writing and proofreading skills were nothing if not meticulous. He’d honed many of those skills
working for his father’s printing business. Many of my partners at Hawley Troxell say they know of no one who
was as talented as Win at research, writing and proof reading.
Proof of zealous advocacy is apparent in Idaho court records. There are three reported Idaho Supreme Court
cases where Win was the attorney. Bischoff v. Quong-Watkins Properties, Lincoln County v. Fidelity and Deposit
Co. of Maryland, and Smith v. Boise Kenworth Sales.
While some appellate lawyers may be satisfied with a “win some, lose some” record, Win prevailed in every
appearance he made before the Idaho appellate courts. A 100% prevailing record on appeal is unusual, and is very
After 12 years with the firm Win made the decision to go to work as an “in-house” lawyer with Morison Knudsen
Company, a legendary international construction firm based in Boise.
For those of us remaining at the firm, we thought this would be a bonanza of legal work. Since Win was known –
indeed famous for – his extensive trial preparation and briefing, we were certain that he would be hiring us to do
similar work for the client.
True to form, though, Win became a zealous advocate for his new employer on undertaking only the most
necessary legal work with no superfluous or extensive motions, briefing or footnotes. His focus was to get the
most effective legal work for the lowest cost to the client.
After Win went to work for MK, the general counsel of that company was heard to brag that he’d hired “the best
lawyer at Hawley Troxell”.
From working in MK’s legal department, Win moved further away from the direct practice of law into the field of “risk
management.” Risk management is: the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by
coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact
of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.
Working as the risk manager for the company took Win around the country, and around the world. He and Lorrie
travelled to London, Qatar, Morocco, Bermuda, and many other locations on company business.
I know many of the professionals that worked for Win in the company’s risk management department, and they
say without exception that Win was an outstanding boss.
After leaving URS, the successor company to MK and Washington Group, Win pursued a career as General
Counsel. He found a nearly perfect job as General Counsel for Weeks Marine, Inc. In the short time he was there,
he became a trusted legal and respected business advisor. He was valued enough that even after taking disability
leave for his cancer treatment, he remained in regular communication with the company’s CEO consulting on
business and legal matters.
- “The best lawyer at Hawley Troxell.”
- Employees who admire and respect their boss.
- Employers who recognized, respected and relied upon his legal work.
That should be a perfect conclusion to sum up Win’s legal career, but on Wednesday of this week, I found
I was in Lewiston at a deposition, and during a break in the proceedings the opposing counsel said that he’d
received word an acquaintance of his had passed away, and he asked if I’d known Win Apel.
I replied that I did, but before I could tell him how I knew Win, he went on to say that he’d gone to law school with
Win, and of all the lawyers he’d known, Win was the most decent, intelligent and kind person he’d encountered in
Zealous, relentless, untiring.
These are all qualities of an outstanding lawyer. Not all lawyers have these qualities, but some do. Win certainly
“Decent, intelligent and kind.”
These are altogether too rare qualities of anyone in life, and their application to a lawyer is even less frequent.
I can think of no better epitaph for Win’s legal career that this: He was a zealous, relentless and untiring advocate,
and he was unquestionably decent, intelligent and kind.