Photo Credit: Phil Aronson
I grew up in Kings Point, Long Island—F. Scott Fitzgerald’s West Egg—and graduated from Great Neck North High School. The fact that such a famous novelist and I, a remedial reader, shared Scribner as our publisher is pure happenstance. Who names their kid “F” anyway?
Not the perfect student—a thorn in the side of my Harvard-educated father—I channeled most of my energy into sports. My athletic passion was lacrosse, and the skill I possessed was a simple one: I was really good at picking the ball up off the ground. Since ball possession determines the outcome of a game, I was the one, rather than the guy scoring all the goals, named Most Valuable Player. But I always thought my buddy the goal-scoring net-shredder should’ve gotten the honor. Still do.
I went south to Tulane University in New Orleans, where the Big Easy proved a life-changer for me: a new culture, soulful music, festivals, and, of course, lacrosse, Louisiana style. Dixie beer, red beans and rice, and jambalaya on the near sideline; a designated vomitorium on the far. It was a high point of my life when we won the First Southwest Championship in Austin, beating the extra-large cowboys from Texas A&M in an exciting come-from-behind victory with seconds left on the clock.
Not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, next stop was Brooklyn Law School. While there, I took a part-time job at a medical malpractice defense firm. I quickly realized that defending doctors and hospitals—when, too often, there was no defense—offended my sense of justice. After I graduated, I made the decision to commit myself working for the victims, those unfortunate men, women and children who through no fault of their own find their lives tragically changed in the blink of an eye by an act of negligence.
I met my wife—who inspired Tyler Wyler, Tug’s wife—on a blind date. If you can believe it, her mother fixed us up. We have three wonderful children and live in Westchester, New York. We’re also dog lovers.
When a guy’s been practicing law in New York City for thirty years and has written several novels, you don’t look at him and think, “Hey, in high school, they kept him in remedial reading through eleventh grade.” But it’s true. There I was, meeting three times a week with five other students in a room with a solid wooden door and a tiny window set up high to prevent kids from peeking. By junior year though, everybody was tall enough to look in.
From that classroom came my earliest identification with the underdog. Okay, I may have had more going on for me than the rest of the kids in there, but I’d been one of them. I knew what it felt like to be at a distinct disadvantage.
All things turn out to be connected. After I began practicing law, I quickly realized the little guys of this world—the ordinary joes unable to stand up for themselves—most needed my legal expertise and fighting spirit to take on large and powerful insurance companies.
Justice is something you shouldn’t have to compete for … but it is.
It’s common to diss personal injury lawyers—ambulance chasers they call us. But just remember: anyone, in an instant, can become a victim. Even you.
And it’s no secret I enjoy joking around. But though my courtroom methods may appear like smart-aleck comedy to my adversary or to the individual in the robe with the gavel, my frequently unconventional approach is critical to helping me stay sane, dealing as I do on a daily basis with one set of catastrophic circumstances after another. One thing is certain: no one opposing me is ever able to anticipate all the angles I might spring in the course of a legal brawl.
My courtroom clashes involve compassionately representing courageous survivors of traumatic brain injury on whose behalf I refuse to give up until achieving an outcome fully satisfying to my sense of justice. My trial successes have regularly placed those outcomes among the “Top 100 Verdicts” reported in the state annually. I’m on the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, whose mission is “To promote a safer and healthier society, to assure access to the civil justice system by those who are wrongfully injured and to advance representation of the public by ethical, well-trained lawyers.” And I’m also on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, whose mission is to “minimize brain injury through prevention, and to support, educate and advocate for individuals with brain injuries and their families.”
For more information on the practice of Andrew W. Siegel, attorney at law, click here.
So how did the colorful, cocky and self-deprecating Tug Wyler come into being? He was hanging around, shadowing my daily life for a long time; I just didn’t know it. But here’s the short version: I shared a trial story with a mom at my kids baseball game who said I should write a book and the idea of him just appeared in my head.
Unable to shake the spell he cast, I began to write, each morning when I got on Metro North, what became my debut novel, Suzy’s Case. But I was doing it only to amuse myself. I didn’t read courtroom mysteries or legal thrillers; as far as I was concerned, I was living them. The rush to cover up genuine wrongs of the sort that lie at the heart of the Tug Wyler Mysteries happens continually out there in the real world. Believe me, fiction doesn’t know the half of it.
For Tug Wyler readers, I promise a mix of rule-bending high-tension conflict during the course of which you’ll laugh in spite of yourself . . . while never knowing what’s going to happen next. Like me, Tug’s the kind of street-smart push-it-to-the-limit lawyer you’d want on your side when the worst has happened.