Andy Savage – Attorney and Renaissance Man
By Paul Gable
Attorney, television host, veteran, and family man are some of the words that describe the varied life and career of Andy Savage. He is a consummate legal professional while fitting the role of a modern Renaissance man.
Born and raised in Kingston, N.Y., Savage graduated from New York City’s Fordham University in 1972 before heading south to stay. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1975.
“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” said Savage. “I had uncles who were lawyers and kind of grew up with the idea.”
Savage served as a prosecutor in the S.C. Fifth Judicial Circuit before becoming Chief Trial Counsel for the S.C. Attorney General’s Office Criminal Division from 1979-81.
“I decided to go out on my own in 1981,” said Savage. “In the beginning I did a little bit of everything, real estate, domestic, criminal. Lawyers didn’t really specialize at that time.”
As criminal law became more involved, however, Savage moved more and more into criminal defense.
“It was an evolution over time,” he said. “The change in statutory law was huge and federal sentencing guidelines came on making criminal defense a significantly more involved process.”
Savage was the first criminal defense attorney in South Carolina to be Board Certified as a Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, beginning a rise to the very top of his profession.
He has been rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell for over 20 years. This means he is ranked at the highest level of professional excellence by his peers in general ethical standards and professional excellence.
Savage is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been annually named in the Best Lawyers of America since 1990.
After over 30 years of criminal defense practice, Savage maintains a passion for his work.
“My relationship with my clients is pretty much what drives me,” Savage said. “The majority of people I represent are pretty good people who got caught up in bad situations that got out of hand.”
Savage takes a whole person approach to defending a client.
“I never take on a case of any magnitude in which I think I can handle it alone,” said Savage. “I am looking to accomplish the best possible successful result for each client.”
This approach takes more into account than just the legal process. Savage often refers clients to psychologists who specialize in aberrant behavior.
“In the short term we want to get the best legal result possible, but in the long term, the goal is to get the person healthy so aberrant behavior can be avoided in the future,” said Savage. “I believe society gains by a counselor at law completely helping the client become healthy in every aspect of life, if possible.”
In addition to his legal practice, Savage has found time to be involved in community service. He served two terms on Charleston County Council (1986-94).
“I’m opinionated and a political junky,” Savage said. “I like politics and like being involved, but two terms was enough. I disdain those who get into politics for self-gain.”
After leaving city council, Savage became a legal analyst for the Charleston CBS-TV affiliate station.
“I was the in-house legal expert for the station,” he said.
“We do subjects of public interest in current events, politics and the like,” said Savage. “It has been an interesting and rewarding experience.”
In addition to the law and television careers, Savage is a retired USAF Lt. Col., having spent four years on active duty and 28 years in the Reserves in the Judge Advocate General Corps.
Savage is married to the former Cheryl von Lehe. The couple has four children and ten grandchildren.
A member of the Charleston County, South Carolina and American Bar associations, Savage also is a member of various professional organizations including the James L. Petigru American Inns of Court. He has served on the Supreme Court Commission on the Profession and on the advisory committee to the Chief Justice.
Savage is a member of the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center, a permanent member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference and a Commissioner for the Charleston County Aviation Authority, as well as a past member of the S.C. Association of Counties Board of Directors and the Medical University of South Carolina Board of Visitors.