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Father & Son: Michael & Joseph M. Lyon

“Chip Off the Old Block–Almost” –Written by Amy White, originally published in Super Lawyers

Joseph Lyon followed his father, Michael, into the practice of law and even into the same practice area: personal injury. But that’s where he stopped.

Michael, a medical malpractice defense attorney, made a strong impression on his children: “I loved being a trial lawyer, and I think my kids could really see that.”

They could. “I loved listening to his stories about being in trial,” says Joe.

But he had a different take from his dad. “I noticed I really started identifying more with the families,” Joe says. “I knew my path would be plaintiff’s law.” He’s spent much of his career helping plaintiffs with products liability and medical malpractice cases.

“Philosophically, we see the world a little different,” says Michael, with Lindhorst & Dreidame. “And that’s actually pretty wonderful.”

In an often-combative profession, father and son rejoice in swapping perspectives.

“Joe allows me to see the world from the eyes of a plaintiff’s lawyer,” Michael says. “As a defense lawyer, you tend to get a little cynical, a little skeptical, a little thickskinned. Joe brings empathy and helps me keep my eyes open.”

Joe benefits equally. “Plaintiff’s attorneys can have some adverse opinions of the other side, and by talking these issues through with my dad, I see that he, too, is representing an individual,” Joe says.

As much as their paths diverged, Joe has borrowed some traits from his old man.

“I’ve had cases where I’ve driven thousands of miles just in terms of client meetings,” Joe says. “I got that from watching my dad. He’d spend hours getting to know clients as deeply as he can.”

Adds Michael, “We share a similar sense of humor and storytelling style. But most important, we both adore our profession.”

For Michael, there’s another benefit: “I’ll tell you, driving down the street and seeing [Joe’s] firm’s sign—The Lyon Firm—it just makes you feel like you’ll live forever.”

Fresh from a family retreat to a lakefront cabin—joined by Joe’s brother, New York lawyer Zachary, they admit they can’t be in a room together for 10 minutes without talking shop. “But that’s actually really relaxing to me, to be able to talk about my life’s work with my dad,” Joe says. “We go through a lot of stories on that trip.”

“We also went through a few bottles of Scotch,” Michael says, laughing. “That helps, too.” —AMY WHITE