When it comes to E. Drew Britcher’s extensive and impressive legal career, creativity is key. Britcher, a co-founder of Britcher, Leone & Sergio, is well known and highly respected for his many successes in the multifaceted world of medical negligence and personal injury law. Britcher stands out not only for his hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, but also as a master when it comes to innovative visual aids. Whether it’s to fortify a settlement or to ignite the imagination of a jury, Britcher can’t overstate how impactful having strong visual reinforcements can be.
It would be easy to count his success solely in dollar signs, but Britcher places higher value on the impact his work has on his clients. “For me, it is all about changing or saving lives. Yes, money allows that to happen, but regardless of the sum,” Britcher maintains. “It’s the difference it makes that matters.”
He’s always been a big believer in charity and adamant about the importance of giving back. To Britcher, it's simple: “As lawyers, we have been blessed to do something we love that disproportionately compensates us for our efforts. It’s just the right thing to do.”
“The right thing” occupies a lot of Britcher’s time. As a founding member of the Board of Trial Lawyers Care, Britcher and his team provided free legal representation to victims of September 11. It’s one of many charitable causes that are crucial to Britcher, who works also with the Interfaith Food Pantry, Youth Consultation Service Foundation, Jersey Battered Women’s Service, and the Morris County Youth Shelter.
Britcher is an esteemed member of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Consumer Plaintiff Lawyers.
Lawdragon: Tell me a bit about how you first got into medical malpractice and personal injury cases, back to that first million-dollar verdict you won at 27. What motivated you to continue in that practice area?
E. Drew Britcher: During my clerkship for a medical malpractice firm, my mentor taught me to do medical research, which played an important role in my career path. One night, I went to the medical school and found an article written by the defendant about the very case we were working on. The article altered the direction of that case and led to a settlement. Through this chain of events, I developed a real passion for the field.
Then, I competed in a mock trial in law school and my partner and I went to the national finals. I became hooked on doing medical malpractice trial work and the rest you can say is history. My first seven-figure verdict at age 27 was in a case I would never have gotten to try had the lead partner not left the firm a couple of months earlier. Things just fell right into place. On occasion, the only things I’ve ever considered doing since then have been going back to school to become a pediatrician or a patient safety advocate.
LD: Were there any other formative cases or moments in your early career?
EDB: A few years later, I had my first brain-damaged baby case. The doctor who ultimately delivered the child gave testimony that made it clear that another doctor had delayed the delivery, leading to the child’s difficulties. His candor was amazing. Interestingly, years later I became his personal counsel when his insurance company put him at risk. From the settlement of that case and another one around the same time, I received notes from moms expressing their gratitude, for not only giving them the chance to care for their child, but also for giving them a chance to enjoy a little more in life.
Finally, when my daughter was in the 5th grade, I represented a classmate’s sister with profound difficulties that brought challenges to her whole family. I had visited the family in their small ranch home during the litigation, and after the resolution, I dropped my daughter off for a party at their new, much larger home. Soon, I saw the girl at a football game using some of the assistive equipment made possible as a result of the settlement. Seeing firsthand how our work changed the lives of this family cemented my love for what I do!
LD: You rarely focus on the dollar amounts of your victories. What else is important in finding a case fulfilling? Do you have any personal stories you can share?
EDB: For me, it is all about changing or saving lives. Yes, money allows that to happen, but regardless of the sum, it’s the difference it makes that matters.
I received notes from moms expressing their gratitude, for not only giving them the chance to care for their child, but also for giving them a chance to enjoy a little more in life.
LD: Can you tell the story of how you first started making the medical literature you’ve gathered available for others to research? Why is that important to you?
EDB: Around Thanksgiving many years ago, I had been working on a shoulder dystocia case where literature was clearly a focus. I gathered everything I could find and then hired a medical researcher to complete the research going back nearly 100 years. A colleague on a listserv mentioned that he was looking for an article, and I mentioned what I had collected. To my surprise, I got a check for $250 asking me to duplicate the work. I offered to do the same for the rest of the group and pledged to donate anything over the reproduction costs to charity.
We soon had over 100 requests and were able to fulfill many Christmas wishes from youth shelters, battered women’s shelters and more. Over the years, we’ve moved to putting other collections on disk and have colleagues as far away as Australia contribute to our Special Works charitable efforts. I am particularly proud of a project called the “Christmas Shoes” where we engage an angel intermediary to visit the family of a parent who may not make it to the following Christmas, offering their child the chance to do something special with the ailing parent.
Based on my personal experience watching my mom battle cancer through most of my teen years and finally succumbing to the disease during my first year of college, the project calls upon the emotional lyrics of the group NewSong’s “Christmas Shoes.”
It is all about changing or saving lives. Yes, money allows that to happen, but regardless of the sum, it’s the difference it makes that matters.
LD: Your firm is coming up on 25 years now. How has firm management changed in that time? In what ways has the firm grown that you hadn’t expected?
EDB: Several years ago, my two fellow founding partners and I came to an understanding about the management and operations of the firm. Mindy Michaels Roth, who became a Court of Federal Claims Special Master, handled the office; Armand Leone handled the financing and I oversaw the networking and marketing. A few years ago, we merged with another extraordinary practice and expanded to two offices. Then, along came the pandemic. Thankfully, we were already used to doing remote expert depositions and had solid knowledge of the available technology. We walked out on Friday and participated on a Zoom call the following Monday, the day of the national lock down, barely missing a beat. We just made it work!
LD: What trends are you noticing in your practice lately?
EDB: We continue to do depositions and new client interviews remotely. Courts are still doing conferences remotely, but we have returned to in-person trials.
LD: What cases are keeping you busy at the moment?
EDB: In addition to several birth injury cases, we are working on a number of cases involving the failure to timely diagnose lung cancer through low-dose CT cases. I just completed an arbitration on a wild wedding injury incident involving a CO2 tank spinning across the dance floor and wiping out our client and two other guests.
LD: You and your firm place such an emphasis on supporting your community. How did those efforts start for you?
EDB: I’ve always believed in charitable work. In law school, I worked with the Coalition for the Homeless. When my kids were growing up, we cooked for the soup kitchen. At the time, their mom was the assistant director of the county food pantry, so we were regularly packing bags for families in need. Every year, we welcome the opportunity to always do more.
LD: Tell us a bit about some of your recent efforts. How do you choose which philanthropic activities to get involved in?
EDB: For me, food insecurity is at or near the top of our list, but personal security is close behind, so we work with groups that serve children at risk and battered women’s shelters. I’ve been running a golf outing for the Interfaith Food Pantry for 20 years and helped organize a Turkey Drive that has now gone on for about 15. Most recently, we have focused on a youth shelter that mostly handles kids in their teen years.
LD: As a lawyer, why is it so important to give back?
EDB: We have been blessed to do something we love that disproportionately compensates us for our efforts. It’s just the right thing to do and to me needs no further explanation.
LD: How do those values extend to your firm at large?
EDB: We try to keep it very personal and involve the firm at large. For instance, for our youth shelter Christmas wish list efforts, the firm pays for all the gifts, but we have each member shop for the child whose wish they’d like to fulfill. It’s a very gratifying and humbling experience.
LD: You’ve wanted to be a lawyer from a young age. So far, has your career turned out how you imagined it? What have you found fulfilling over the years that has surprised you?
EDB: I thought I would be involved with government and lobbying until I was offered a chance to work for a polluter at a high salary. I immediately knew I could never do that work and found that what I currently do was the perfect marriage of my talents and my values.
LD: You have been recognized and celebrated for your innovative visual strategies. How did that evolve?
EDB: I’ve developed a real love and a talent for visual strategy and creative ways of presenting my client’s complicated cases in 20-minute “60 Minutes”-style episodes that have been a great addition to our practice. Last year, we were recognized for our innovation in these efforts. My son graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design and his passion for color theory made me look more and more at what I was showing jurors.
LD: That’s great. What advice would you give to attorneys just starting out in your practice area?
EDB: Be prepared to find someone willing to engage in creative financing on behalf of your clients’ cases. With the combination of the IRS not allowing case disbursements as deductions and the average client’s inability to afford to fund their own matters, what we do is outside traditional lending principles and that poses serious operational/business challenges for new lawyers.