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How did Iowa lawyers get English wigs?


The most common question we get asked:

How did two lawyers from Iowa wind up wearing English wigs?

It has long been Mr Critelli’s belief that the true trial lawyer was not one who was expert in a substantive area of the law, which could be mastered through study, but rather one who had mastered the more complex areas of the law of procedure, evidence and advocacy which could only be understood through years of continual practice. This philosophy is the heart of the barrister and solicitor division of legal services.

How Mr. Critelli came to be called to the Bar of England and Wales was perhaps best summarized by the Des Moines Register:

Mr. Critelli’s keen interest in English law developed in 1986 when he and his wife went to an American Bar Association meeting in London. They wandered into an English courtroom and saw barristers engaged in quick, scapel-like cross-examination. “They were unbelievably good,” Critelli says. “I figured out I had to learn how to do this.”

Critelli, having already been a lawyer for 20 years, had to go back to law school to earn the right to practice in England.  The Inns of Court, City University of London, shipped Critelli the assignments and books and he flew to London a couple of times a year to take the tests. Then he had to undergo training and take the bar examination. The process took five years…. The Des Moines Register, Sept. 21, 1992,  by Rick Jost.

Tre Critelli, on the other hand, came to his wig via another path–through Asia. While Nick was busy studying English law in the UK, Tre Critelli was teaching at university in Japan. Five years later he returned to the United States and obtained his JD degree and began the practice of law. Shortly thereafter he began his own course of study of English law, culminating in his call to the Bar of England and Wales in 2002.

Despite the geographical distances between Iowa and London, the Critellis continue to be involved in the training of newly qualified Barristers. For almost two decades CritelliLaw has hosted the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple’s Anglo-American Exchange. Each year, after qualifying but before actual call to the Bar, interested candidates at the Middle Temple Inn of Court compete for a scholarship which allows them to train with CritelliLaw. During the course of the scholarship period, the barrister is exposed to American jurisprudence and methods of practice in a fused profession and learn to discern the differences between English and American advocacy.

innovAction award 2004The uniqueness of the CritelliLaw mode of practice and office environment has been recognized by both members of the bar and the media. In 2004 CritelliLaw was selected to be the first recipient of the College of Law Practice Management and Microsoft Corporation’s InnovAction Award in the “Leader Ships” category and continue to be a member of their Hall of Fame. The law office and unique practice have also been the subject of numerous articles in legal and professional publications, including The ABA Journal, Law Practice MagazineLawyers Weekly USA, The Iowa Lawyer and The Des Moines Business Record.

AVPRR-150The firm is “av” rated by Martindale Hubbell, both nationally and internationally.