Using Her Elbows
Runner Haley Krug carries her competitiveness into the legal arena
Published in 2020 Mountain States Super Lawyers magazine
on June 12, 2020
Updated on June 24, 2020
There is only one loss that haunts Haley Krug—and it didn’t happen in the courtroom.
It was the Washington state track championship during her senior year of high school. Krug had been running competitively since the eighth grade, after winning her very first mile race. She’d been trying to chase that feeling, and this race—just two miles, or eight laps around the track—was the culmination of hundreds of hours of training.
She came in one one-hundredth of a second behind the first-place finisher.
“It’s rare to have the two-mile that close. It was devastating to me,” Krug says. “It was a long time ago now, 20 years, but I think I’m still coming to terms with it. I don’t think there’s anything else I could have done, and that’s what’s hard about it: that you can put in all the work, and do everything right, and still lose.”
After high school, Krug became a Division I track and cross-country athlete at Columbia University. During her sophomore year, the women’s varsity cross-country team made it to nationals. For the first time, the sport that had always been solitary for Krug became a true team effort. “We made it together,” she says. “We worked together for a couple of years trying to reach this high level that no women’s team from our school had ever done. It was a lot of fun, and that translates to today; litigation is a team endeavor. I learned a lot about working as a team from that experience.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Krug sees a clear path from the track to the courtroom. In fact, the first case she tried on her own brought her back to that moment at state. “I represented an individual, and I lost half a million dollars of his money,” she says. “I worked hard; I knew all the right arguments. But, in the end, we didn’t have the facts on our side that we needed to prevail. It was a tough one, but I had good mentors, and I learned that is part of your evolution. You have to lose sometimes, and you have to be able to move on and keep going.”
As a former long-distance runner, Krug has seen how discipline and hard work, over time, translate into trial success.
“You have to learn to play the long game,” she says. “You don’t show up and win because you’re smart or have a good case; you win because you laid the groundwork months ahead of time, plodding along toward a goal, and you have to be able to look far in the future to see that.”
And, like any good competitor, she has learned when it’s time to fight—whether in the courtroom or on the trail. “In cross-country, we call it using your elbows,” Krug says. “I’m glad I’ve chosen a profession that allows me to do that in a metaphorical way. It’s a lot of fun to see the rewards of your work pay off, to get to do that periodically as a litigator. There are probably a lot of lawyers who run. It’s something that goes well with this lifestyle, and the demands of this job.”
These days, Krug runs for both fun and exercise on the trails around Boise. While she doesn’t have a regular time each day, she fits a run in whenever she can—whether it’s a quick three miles with her dog, a 12-mile climb in the foothills, or, when she’s traveling to a new city, finding groups online to meet people she can explore with.
“I don’t go anywhere without my shoes.”
Krug counts herself lucky that COVID-19 didn’t take her hobby away
“I can see a ski place from my office window and there’s 20 miles of hills and trails between here and there—so it’s pretty easy to go out and get away from people,” she says. “I actually have been running a little more than I used to, so that’s a bit of a silver lining.”