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2020 Top Legal Innovations: Brett Emison

Langdon & Emison

Brett Emison

Brett Emison

Brett Emison hopes you don’t ever end up in his office.

“When people ask me what I do, I say I’m the kind of lawyer that you never want to have to call,” noted Emison, a partner at Lexington-based Langdon & Emison. “We’re dealing with folks who have lost loved ones, who have become paralyzed or have been given a deadly disease like cancer. We can’t put them back together again, but we can give them hope.”

Long recognized as a top personal injury firm, Langdon & Emison has been expanding that mission of hope for some time. Emison has been at the center of much of that effort as head of the firm’s mass torts division, where it is seeing major growth.

“Brett Emison has successfully led Langdon & Emison from being an exclusively catastrophic personal injury firm into the rapidly expanding and highly competitive world of mass torts,” his nominator wrote.

Indeed, the firm has become active in various class actions and multidistrict litigation matters. Emison said it soon will have five lawyers working in the division.

A native of Lafayette County, Emison was inspired by hearing “war stories” from his dad, Kent, about battling giant corporations in court. He’s keeping up that tradition by taking on cases against outfits ranging from railroad companies to medical device manufacturers. He recently settled a number of General Motors ignition-switch cases.

“Probably our biggest tort right now,” he said, “is where we are working with some other law firms in the Kansas City area on these business-interruption insurance claims representing small businesses who have had either to close down completely or partially because of the COVID pandemic, and helping them with their claims against their insurance companies for the business income loss that resulted.”

A University of Missouri graduate and former clerk for state Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr., Emison has just finished serving as president of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. After a stint at a boutique business firm in Kansas City, he came to Langdon & Emison in 2004. The mass torts division he now leads was still in its infancy just five years ago.

His nominator also mentioned the firm’s support of the work of attorneys Tricia Campbell, who has been appointed to an MDL steering committee, and Nicole Smith, described as “a leader in the field of mass torts.” The firm supports both of them by funding their involvement in Women En Masse, a group working to boost female attorney participation in such matters.

“For too long, there’s been too many groups in the law that have been shut out of leadership opportunities, and it’s about time that that gets remedied,” Emison said, noting the importance of diversity in an organization pursuing suits involving thousands of clients. “It takes a wide range of viewpoints to advocate for the folks that we do.”

Of course, that’s what any good lawyer wants to do — give his or her client a voice in court.

“I think it is being able to make real change for people,” he said. “When you have a product, whether it’s a medical device or a pharmaceutical drug or some toxic contamination of something, the breadth of that harm is so widespread and it affects so many families that, without this kind of litigation, that harm just goes on.”

Missouri Lawyers Media