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Gary Frisch / Swordfish Communications
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New Jersey Lawyer Shares Life Lessons from the Courtroom
Sticks and Stones Serves Up The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly from the Judicial System
SOMERVILLE, N.J., March 23, 2015 –To err is human; to sue is revenge.
That's just one of many nuggets of legal wisdom New Jersey family lawyer Theresa A. Lyons serves up in her book, Sticks and Stones: Life Lessons From a Lawyer, published this month. The book, in hard copy and coming e-book format, shot to the top of the Amazon.com bestseller list in the category in which it was listed.
Lyons wrote the book for lay people but expects it to entertain and maybe even provoke lawyers in the trenches as well. Sticks and Stones delivers a mix of notable, heartbreaking and ridiculous legal cases, and the life lessons that can be gleaned from them. The overarching message: often what you think you know about the goings on in courtrooms across the land is far different than the true stories at the heart of these cases. Lyons subpoenas readers to question their feelings about many of these stories – some of which are drawn from her own experiences, or those of close professional colleagues – and their attitudes toward the legal system as a whole.
"So much of the news cycle is occupied by sensational legal stories. One of the things this book talks about is that what you see on the news about a story is not always what's going on in the story," Lyons says. "This book gives people a deeper insight into what's happening, why it happens, what questions we might want to ask ourselves, and what questions we want to pose of the system to make it better for humanity."
The book highlights the case of the Hunterdon County, New Jersey, couple who considered themselves neo-Nazis and named their children Adolph Hitler, Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler. Their inability to get a birthday cake for son Adolph, complete with a swastika, from a local grocery store bakery spurred the father to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. When their story made national news, child protective services removed the children, and ultimately, the couple were stripped of their parental rights. Along with the life lesson that names sometimes can hurt you, the book encourages readers to question what they would have done if they worked in the grocery store bake shop.
Another case that pitted brother against brother over a loudly barking dog ends with crisscrossing lawsuits, with the initial plaintiff losing his case and being ordered to pay $25,000 in damages to his older brother, the dog owner. The lesson to be had? Sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Sticks and Stones does examine more serious cases involving reprehensible crimes, family-shattering divorces, and lawyers and judges who dropped the ball in their pursuit of victory or that elusive thing called justice. Without naming names, Lyons gives insider insight into cases that weren't as they appeared on the surface, those that hang reputations out to dry because of media that aren't always privy to all the facts of a given situation.
"Even if no one buys this book, I'm grateful for having written it. Because writing it has reminded me of the importance of looking twice, the importance of asking hard questions, and the importance of paying attention to the little things, because when you add them up they are pretty big, and make us human," she says.
Lyons isn't just a specialist in family law. She holds a master's degree in social work from Rutgers University. A certified matrimonial attorney, she has clerked for the Supreme Court of N.J. and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. She is managing partner at Lyons & Associates in Somerville.
Among her other observations in the book:
- "It's the principle that counts" is often relegated to nothing more than an adage by the practicalities of law. At some point, principles take a back seat to more pragmatic matters, like costs and emotions.
- It's not always about the money. Many times when you delve into cases, you'll find there are deeper issues that need to be addressed.
- No matter how or when you die, the lawyer always gets paid.
Sticks and Stones: Life Lessons From a Lawyer is available at Amazon.com. For more information, visit www.SticksandStonesLifeLessons.com. For a complete copy of the book for review, or to request an interview with Theresa Lyons, contact Gary Frisch at Swordfish Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-767-7772.