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Lylea Critelli admitted into the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers

Jul 5th, 2014 | By | Category: Technology



“I make my statements in court, not in public.”  Anyone that knows Lylea Critelli knows that she rarely reveals her accomplishments or achievements.  It’s very old fashion, and not surprising when it comes to Lylea.  It is because she was trained in the old fashion way.  Lylea  was the last protégé of legendary lawyer  J. Riley McManus.  McManus was a  legal giant, even if he was only about 4’10”.  He was the best and he trained the best.  J. Riley  taught Lylea the classical   method  of  legal analysis.  But if J. Riley was with us today, even he would join with us and publicly and proudly announce that Lylea Critelli has been admitted into Iowa’ most prestigious, peer reviewed, society of lawyers:   The Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers.

So now, whether she likes it or not, we’re going to tell you a little about her.  Upon graduating from Drake Law School she set up her own practice with a focus on criminal cases.  The criminal bar  has always offered new lawyers the opportunity to develop skill and creativity both in the courtroom and on appeal.  Lylea was no exception.  Whether in the trial courts, courts of appeal or supreme courts Lylea  was and is always prepared and creative.

Iowa’s leading criminal lawyer Larry Scalise soon recognized her abilities and offered her the opportunity to assist him in the famed Barrett murder trial.  The experience proved to be invaluable and continued on to the Frey  murder case in North Dakota.

McManus and Scalise  taught her that to be a good lawyer one had to put back  into the profession.  And she did.  She  embarked on journey that would take her to the presidency of the Iowa State Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division  and a position on the ABA’s YLD Executive Council.   And then, in 1989,  she took on her most challenging case , the raising of Maria   a/k/a “bar baby”.  Throughout the  “raising years” she quietly worked behind the scenes preparing our  cases, but she missed the courtroom.  To keep her skill level up, she turned  to mock trial.  Whatever the form, middle school, high school or even college moot court she was there teaching,  coaching and  fine tuning.   In fact, several of her students are now lawyers.   When Maria went to college Lylea returned to full time practice.  But this time mock trial came back to the office with her.  It was magical seeing them in our war room learning  about the  law,  rules of evidence and how to apply them and how to argue them.  No memorization allowed;  they actually know it.  We have grown to commiserate with her mock trial students, she does the same thing to us:  coach, drill, fine tune and sends us off to court.

When J. Riley  exposed Lylea to the classical method of legal analysis little did he know that over quarter century later it would prove to be invaluable  in the age of  information technology.  While we’ve moved from legal pads to computer tablets; from binders to databases, the classical method still rules.  It now forms the basis for our mission statement:  Where tradition meets technology.

Congratulations Lylea!





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