Deep Idaho Roots
Nels Mitchell is a Westerner through and through. He was born in Seattle and raised in Idaho. His parents moved to Boise in 1968. Nels and his two brothers attended Boise public schools and all three graduated from Boise High School. At Boise High, Nels was Student Body President and a member of the Debate Team – the same path his boyhood hero, Sen. Frank Church, had followed nearly 30 years before.
The Mitchells were outdoor people. Nels and his family fished and hunted in Idaho’s backcountry, and Nels was on the Ski Team at Boise High. He still loves to hunt, fish and ski, though he proudly admits that his older daughter, Brianne, is now the real fly-caster of the family.
There was a lot of love but not a lot of extras in the Mitchell household, and everyone had to earn their own way. The young Nels had a series of classic Idaho jobs: moving irrigation pipe, delivering papers for the Statesman, clearing rocks at Bogus Basin, thinning lodge pole pine in the Stanley Basin, washing dishes at the Elk’s Hospital and mowing lawns in Ann Morrison Park. Later, in college and law school, he spent three summers as the caretaker of the Garden Valley Airport and on the crew that maintained small airports around the state.
After Boise High, Nels was offered an achievement scholarship to Columbia University, long a magnet for high-achieving Idaho students. At Columbia, he served as class vice president, earned two varsity athletic letters, and graduated in three years so he could come home to Idaho. He won a scholarship to the University of Idaho Law School, and was delighted that he could be there at the same time as his two brothers, Mike and Rob.
A Distinguished Career
Nels has been a practicing attorney for more than 30 years, in both the public and private sectors. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Judge J. Blaine Anderson, who was nominated to the federal bench by Sen. Len Jordan and Sen. James McClure. He then practiced law in both large and small law firms, where he felt first-hand the pressures faced by all business owners and employers trying to meet a payroll and turn a profit. No matter what the case, Nels’ touchstone was fairness and his goal was to help his clients reach common-sense solutions to the problems facing them.
After a successful career in private practice, Nels wanted to use his legal background and training to benefit the larger community. He looked for – and found – a position where he could apply his experience to further his ideal of fairness and help secure a level playing field for everyone. As an Associate Regional Director and Regional Trial Counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nels managed a staff of 75 employees investigating and prosecuting financial fraud in the western states.
Nels served six years on the University of Idaho Law School Advisory Council, and has been a part- time teacher at the University of Idaho Law School for ten years. He has also served on committees for Columbia University, the American Bar Association and the U.S. State Department.
The Mitchell Family
Nels has two grown daughters: Brianne is a practicing attorney; Brittany is a second-year law student. The girls grew up with sports. Nels volunteered as their soccer coach when they were teenagers, and Nels taught both daughters to fish.
Nels has hunted, fished, skied and hiked his whole life, and he and his wife, Mary Kimmel, have a deep love for Idaho’s outdoors. Nels and Mary live in West Boise, with two rescue dogs, another adopted dog, a Quarter Horse and a cat.
Nels remains extremely close to his two brothers and his 91-year-old mother, who still lives in Boise. He has established a scholarship at Boise High in memory of his father and in honor of his mother.
Nels credits his parents and his grandparents with instilling the values of hard work and close family ties, and with teaching him to always stand on the side of fairness and justice.