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This article was published in Nebraska Lawyer Magazine in July 2006.


Lyle E. Strom and William J. Riley have been mainstays of the Omaha legal community for decades. These legendary Omaha lawyers have enjoyed successful careers as trial lawyers in private practice, educated law students on trial practice, dedicated their time and talent to Nebraska’s legal community, motivated Boy Scouts to lead virtuous lives, mentored countless young attorneys, and served their nation as federal judges. Judge Strom currently serves as a senior judge on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska; Judge Riley currently serves as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. I am lucky and fortunate to call both of them friends. Although Strom and Riley are not as famous as such duos as Buffett and Munger, Martin and Lewis, or Batman and Robin, they have an interesting story linked by common threads.

Through a brief background and a far-reaching, question-and-answer format, this two-part article hopes to capture parts of the interesting careers of Judge Strom and Judge Riley. This article represents the results of an enjoyable three-hour conversation between this article’s author (Tory L. Lucas), Judge Strom, and Judge Riley in the Eighth Circuit Conference Room in Omaha, Nebraska, on a sunny afternoon on August 15, 2005.

Part one of the article addresses the following subjects: the genesis of the relationship between Judge Strom and Judge Riley; how they made their career choices to become trial lawyers; memorable trial stories; mentoring; teaching; community service; the quality of trial lawyers; and civility and professionalism.

Part two of the article addresses the following subjects: the judicial nomination process, including personal stories about Judge Strom’s and Judge Riley’s nominations to the federal bench by Presidents Reagan and Bush; the current climate for federal judicial candidates; the makeup of the Supreme Court of the United States; appeals from Judge Strom’s decisions to Eighth Circuit panels involving Judge Riley; judicial philosophies; future plans; and advice to future law clerks and to young lawyers.

This two-part article tries to capture portions of two amazing careers that have intriguing parallels. It also attempts to relay interesting stories about two mainstays of the Omaha legal profession that undoubtedly reveal that Judge Strom and Judge Riley are credits to our profession.

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