“During COVID we didn’t really have any trials — for me it was a real boring time,” she admitted. “When I got back to trial (in April in Columbia), even though we lost, I realized just how much I missed it. It’s the same feeling as when I was a young lawyer going into trial. There was just a lot of adrenaline.”
That drive has fueled Bratcher, 69, from her days as a young mom who began UMKC School of Law with a two-year-old in tow (after spending the first five years of her career as a Social Security claims rep).
A solo practitioner her first three years, Bratcher then spent eight years with the Kansas City firm of Miller, Dougherty & Modin, first as an associate and later as partner, before teaming up with her current partner and law school classmate Marie Gockel (herself a 2021 ICON winner) in 1995.
With a credo of “helping courageous people fight for justice,” Bratcher focuses on employment discrimination, civil rights, and personal injury law.
Among her notable victories: a 2017 jury award of more than $350,000 for a Black Kansas City firefighter who allegedly was passed over for a promotion; a $2.6 million jury verdict in 2014 for woman who claimed sexual harassment while working at an auto parts store; and as part of a legal team, a series of settlements that same year totaling nearly $2.5 million for eight former Kansas City prosecutors who sued over being replaced with younger, less experienced lawyers.
Past honors include being named to Missouri Lawyers Media’s POWER List for employment law in both 2020 and 2021; the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association’s Dean of the Trial Bar award in 2014; and a 2014 Women’s Justice Award from this publication for her litigation practice.
A fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Bratcher has also taught trial advocacy at her alma mater and served on the board of the Association for Women Lawyers in Kansas City.
Bratcher traces her political awakening — and by extension, her career path — to the 1972 presidential election, when the undergraduate psychology student switched her major to political science and served as a delegate from Missouri for Democratic nominee George McGovern.
That early interest in the science of the mind persists, though, through her ongoing involvement as a psychodrama trainer for trial lawyers.
“For lawyers, it can help explore (after the fact) what happened in a case — more visibly, and with the same emotions that originally happened,” she explains of the experiential technique. “You don’t just sit and talk. You reenact scenes, you do role reversal, to better understand something that happened in the past.”
As courtroom calendars continue to crowd with post-pandemic hearings, look for Bratcher where she’s at her best.
“It is really gratifying to represent people who have the courage to go forward and help not only themselves, but to try to make a difference for good,” she said.