Michael Lesher is a poet, author, journalist and attorney. He has published a collection of poetry, Surfaces, and several books of nonfiction. His memoir about becoming an Orthodox Jew, Turning Back: The Personal Journey of a “Born-Again” Jew, was published by Lincoln Square Books in 2020. A novel and two more collections of poetry are now awaiting publication. His short stories have appeared in Oasis, Scholia Satyrica, Cimarron Review and The Virginia Literary Review. He was awarded the University of Virginia’s Wagenheim Prize for fiction in 1979.
As an attorney, Michael Lesher provides unique services to parents who have lost custody of their children for trying to protect them from alleged sexual abuse, and others who have been unjustly penalized by family court or Child Protective Services. He has fought for mothers and children in states all over the country, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. He has also handled federal civil rights cases concerning freedom of speech and equal protection under the law.
Michael Lesher has been actively involved with family court problems since 1996, when he published major articles on the outrages committed in the case of , in The Village Voice (co-authored with Adam Fifield) and The New York Jewish Week. After years of research and legal work on other cases in which the family court system has betrayed children—and the parents who try to protect them—he joined with Amy Neustein to co-author From Madness to Mutiny. This is the first book to dissect the ways the family court system abandons protective parents, and the first to recommend significant and plausible reforms. It has now been acquired by over 220 law school and university libraries internationally, including Yale, Princeton, Stanford and McGill University in Canada.
Michael is also the author of Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities, the first book-length study of sex abuse cover-ups among Orthodox Jews.
With co-writer Amy Neustein, Michael Lesher continues to produce important articles on the family court system that have appeared in academic publications and in the mainstream press. He is an Advisory Board member of the National Coalition for Family Justice and delivered a keynote address to the third annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference near Albany, New York in January 2006.
In 2010, Michael was awarded a Pro Humanitate Award by the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare (for an article co-authored with Amy Neustein) in recognition of “the intellectual integrity and moral courage required to transcend political and social barriers to champion best practice in the field of child welfare.” As an author, he was awarded the University of Virginia’s Wagenheim Prize for fiction in 1979, and has published work in Oasis, Scholia Satyrica, Cimarron Review and Virginia Literary Review.
The common themes in Michael’s work are an abiding concern with the power of the written word (whether in a story, a poem or a legal brief) and a passionate commitment to truth. This has led to a unique career of service to parents and children who are struggling in an imperfect system.