Now in the prime of his career and already with a broad record of trial victories, Barry Eichen is today one of New Jersey's most successful personal-injury lawyers. For starters, Eichen, now 54, is an energetic and hands-on lawyer, having built a practice that began in the '80s in his hometown of Edison and today has multiple offices and a statewide influence. As his docket of class-action cases grows, so too does his stature nationally, peers say. Already he's served as co-counsel in some of the highest profile mass-tort litigation of the last two decades, including the national Phen-Fen diet-drug case and other defective-product claims against major pharmaceutical companies. He has secured 7-and 8-figure settlements and verdicts for individual clients against the likes of Ford Motor Company (he identified a defective part) and even the U.S. government (a Federal Employees' Liability Act claim on behalf of a railroad worker). Just last year he teamed as co-counsel on a major price-fixing case against Big Pharma on behalf of Pennsylvania's state Medicare program, resulting in verdicts for the Commonwealth totaling 78 million dollars and subsequent settlements totaling approximately 150 million dollars. For all that, Eichen remains a remarkably grounded person, whose priorities - "family and colleagues have always come first to me" - make him something of an ego-in-check anomaly in his fiercely competitive profession. And it's a record and career borne of no special privilege or access to the law's elite. Growing up in Edison's Washington Park neighborhood and the fourth of five children, Eichen admired his father, a steady and devoted Navy veteran of World War II who managed a Pep Boys auto parts supply store - "Examples of character, strength and dignity have the greatest impact on you in life, and for me that was definitely my Dad," says Eichen.
After majoring in finance at Seton Hall, Eichen briefly went to Wall Street student training at Drexel Burnham. But after heading to law school, Eichen was able to tap into his deep ties to Edison and Middlesex County, launching his own practice within two years. From the start Eichen plunged into trial law with something to prove, a chip on his professional shoulder that, by his own admission, he has never fully shed. "It was never about meeting anyone else's standards - only my own expectations." At age 28 he obtained a $1.3 million settlement right before selecting a jury and Eichen was off. He served as a municipal prosecutor in his early years, gaining valuable courtroom experience, and more proof that his hometown helped build his reputation. Eichen's rise too reflected a unique energy and remarkable instincts for the civil litigation landscape: He has a broad knowledge of the judges, peer groups and court processes so central to the adjudication of the law, both in New Jersey and beyond. Eichen teamed for several years with personal injury lawyer William D. Levinson, and previously with Edison lawyer Clifford Kuhn.
In recent years Eichen has built a practice with respected lawyers William Crutchlow ("One of the best courtroom lawyers anywhere"), former Blume Goldfaden partner Darryl Zaslow, with a superb reputation as a medical malpractice trial lawyer, and criminal defense specialist Ed McElroy. Their diverse practice - which includes medical malpractice, classic personal injury and criminal defense work -- helps hedge against the high-stakes class-action cases the firm is increasingly involved in. And Eichen, first among equals ("Some say I have a Napoleonic complex" he jokes), has structured the practice to ensure that his colleagues thrive and prosper - not always the case at many firms, where controlling partners can run sweatshops. "I never wanted to be the richest man in the cemetery," says Eichen. "A first-rate practice can only grow with first-rate people - you start by treating everyone with respect." Eichen and his wife Kim have two teen-age children, and they live in Warren Township.