Sanford Heisler Sharp Expands Leadership Team, Promotes Five, Adds Seven Lawyers Across National Platform
Sanford Heisler Sharp announced nine new leadership positions, five promotions and seven additions to its roster of legal talent across the U.S.
“We continue to grow the firm and expand our impact and influence through strategic internal promotions and recruiting top talent to the firm,” said David Sanford, Chairman and co-founder of the firm. “2021 has been another exceptionally successful year for the firm handling public interest and social justice cases of importance to individuals, families and communities. These promotions and new hires will make the firm even stronger in the years ahead.”
Kevin Sharp, the firm’s former Nashville Managing Partner and named partner of the firm assumes the key leadership position of Co-Vice Chair of the firm, joining Jeremy Heisler, a co-founder and Co-Vice Chair of the firm. Sharp came to Sanford Heisler Sharp after serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee from May 2011 through April 2017, including service from 2014 to 2017 as the court’s Chief Judge. A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, he also serves as Co-Chair of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Public Interest Litigation Practice. Since joining the firm Sharp has taken on individual and class employment litigation and has led the firm’s efforts representing cities and counties seeking damages for harm caused by the opioid crisis. He is a national advocate for prison and criminal justice reform, sentencing reform, and is leading the effort to gain clemency for American Indian Movement activist, Leonard Peltier, who has wrongfully imprisoned for 46 years.
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Leigh Anne St. Charles, a 2014 graduate of Columbia Law School, has been promoted to partner and named Managing Partner of the Nashville office. She succeeds Kevin Sharp, who has served as Nashville’s Managing Partner since the office opened in 2017. St. Charles maintains an active practice in the Firm’s employment discrimination and financial services practice groups. In her discrimination and harassment practice, she has represented a variety of workers across the country, including several female partners of national law firms, in the private resolution of their claims. Her notable public representations include the co-founder of the semi-conductor company InnoGrit, where she helped win an arbitration verdict over $8.3 million. She also represented the former CEO of the Nashville airport in his claims of disability and FMLA discrimination and achieved a settlement agreement of over $2 million. Additionally, she represented hundreds of auto-workers in a class discrimination case against Volkswagen, initiating wide-spread programmatic relief and securing undisclosed individual settlements. St. Charles is also class counsel in ERISA class actions currently pending against Home Depot, Allstate, and UnitedHealth, in which she represents tens-of-thousands of 401(k) plan participants in their claims of breach of fiduciary duty.
Deborah K. Marcuse, current Managing Partner of the Baltimore office, will take on the additional role of Firmwide Managing Partner, reporting to the Executive Committee. A 2008 graduate of Yale Law School who also holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Duke University, Marcuse brought her academic background to bear as lead class counsel in Rapuano et al v. Dartmouth, securing approval in May 2020 of a historic settlement on behalf of a class of current and former graduate students and other student-employees alleging a gender-based hostile environment at the Ivy League College. The trailblazing settlement included a $14 million monetary component and programmatic relief valued at more than $1 million, along with a commitment by Dartmouth to work in partnership with the nine plaintiffs in its ongoing initiatives toward a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus culture. In 2020, Marcuse also marshaled her class action expertise to bring change beyond the employment arena, leading a team of firm lawyers in partnership with the ACLU and CAIR Coalition to represent a class of immigrant detainees in Maryland. In May 2020, the court granted the class-wide preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs, ruling that the government must justify detention at a bond hearing, and requiring immigration judges to consider an immigrant’s financial circumstances when setting bond amounts and terms of release. As Managing Partner of the Baltimore office of the firm, which she opened in 2018, Marcuse models a collaborative and equitable workplace culture. She is recognized as a skilled and dedicated manager of people, as well as a talented trial lawyer, advocate, and counselor.
Russell Kornblith becomes General Counsel of the firm, handing over the reins of his current role as New York Managing Partner to Michael Palmer. A 2012 graduate of Harvard Law School, he is known for his excellent judgement and analytical rigor in three distinct practice areas: qui tam/whistleblower litigation, sexual assault litigation; and gender and other employment discrimination litigation. Prior to joining the firm Kornblith held two clerkships, one for the Honorable Ronald Lee Gilman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and a second for the Honorable James S. Gwin of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Kornblith has served as the New York Managing Partner 2018. Among his successes, he served as co-lead counsel representing Kelli Smith and a class of sale representatives in a $6.2 million settlement in a gender discrimination class action against Merck & Co., won a pathbreaking First Circuit qui tam appeal, successfully resolved a legal malpractice case on the eve of trial, and was lead counsel in the Temple St. Clair whistleblower action in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, believed to be the first case in the state to recover money for the federal government based on a company’s failure to properly mark its products with their country of origin. Kornblith has represented employees across a wide range of industries, including financial services, legal services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, consulting, higher education, energy, and publishing, in a range of claims including discrimination, sexual assault, retaliation, and whistleblower claims. Kornblith currently co-leads the Firm’s class action against oil field services giant Schlumberger Technology Corporation and represents law firm partners, c-suite executives, financial services professionals, physicians and students in confidential negotiations against major corporations and institutions.
Michael Palmer, Co-Chair of the firm’s Wage and Hour Practice, succeeds Kornblith as Managing Partner of the New York office. A 2004 graduate of NYU School of Law, he represents individuals in complex litigations, False Claims Act, wage and hour and employment discrimination actions. Palmer leads the firm’s long-running case against Oracle seeking civil penalties under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for the violation of state laws governing commission agreements and the timely and full payment of commissions. Following two successful trials on liability under PAGA, the case now heads towards a third trial for a penalties determination. In another heavily litigated case, a Palmer led team recently settled a multimillion-dollar overtime class action against telecom company Alaska Communications Systems (ACS), in which the plaintiff alleged that ACS misclassified sales employees as exempt from overtime pay under state and federal law. In addition to his extensive work on wage and hour cases, Palmer represents employees in complex whistleblower lawsuits and discrimination cases, including a $100 Million gender discrimination class action brought against oilfield services company, Schlumberger Technology Corporation.
Kate Mueting, Co-Chair of the firm’s Discrimination and Harassment Practice, will take on the additional responsibility of Co-Managing Partner of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, a role she will share with partner Vincent McKnight.
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Mueting is currently challenging decades of systemic discrimination against African Americans in the U.S. Marshals Service. She has substantial experience leading hard-fought litigation challenging systemic discrimination in law and accounting firms, and she was recently successful in obtaining a multi-million-dollar Equal Pay Act settlement against a Big Four Accounting Firm that resulted in relief for hundreds of female professionals. Mueting has a decade of experience representing professional and executive clients in successful pre-litigation negotiations, in which she regularly achieves seven-figure resolutions. Mueting is a frequent speaker and educator on workplace discrimination and bias, and she is on the faculty at her alma mater, the University of Iowa College of Law. She clerked for the Honorable Michael J. Melloy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and for the Honorable Richard J. Leon, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Alexandra Harwin, a 2011 graduate of Yale Law School and currently Co-Chair of the firm’s Discrimination and Harassment Practice becomes the Executive Firm Chair of that practice, working with Co-Chairs, Saba Bireda, Kate Mueting, Melinda Koster and Danielle Fuschetti.
Harwin litigated the firm’s closely watched, multi-plaintiff gender discrimination lawsuit against Chadbourne & Parke LLP (now Norton Rose Fulbright). She also spearheaded litigation against Columbia University brought by Enrichetta Ravina, a female faculty member, which resulted in a $1.25 million jury verdict. She is currently lead counsel for plaintiff Graham Chase Robinson in her gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against actor Robert De Niro. Harwin was integrally involved in negotiating a $14.25 million settlement for the women victimized by disgraced Rabbi Bernard Freundel, who surreptitiously videotaped women in a Jewish ritual bath facility known as a mikvah. She was also co-lead counsel in achieving an $8 million gender discrimination class and collective action settlement against pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Alcon where she represented thousands of directors, managers, specialists, and sales professionals against the companies in their class claims of discrimination in pay, promotion, and assignments.
Partners Melinda Koster, J.D from Stanford Law School in 2021, and Danielle Fuschetti, a 2013 graduate of University of Michigan School of Law, will become Co-Chairs of the Discrimination and Harassment practice joining Saba Bireda and Kate Mueting. Senior Litigation Counsel Nicole Wiitala, a 2016 graduate of Pace University School of Law will join Vincent McKnight, the firm’s current ombudsman as co-ombudsperson.
Jonathan Tepe, a 2015 graduate of Columbia University Law School, was promoted to Senior Litigation Counsel in Nashville. Tepe has had a significant role in several complex litigations, including helping to settle a class action age discrimination case against Volkswagen and to represent cities and counties seeking damages for costs incurred as a result of the opioid epidemic. Tepe has also had leading roles in multiple important pre-suit matters involving employment discrimination and retaliation. Prior to joining the firm, Tepe clerked for the Honorable Sarah A. L. Merriam, Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Five lawyers have become Associates: Amee Vora, a 2014 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, was promoted to Associate in the Baltimore office. Vora previously clerked for the Honorable Ann O’Regan Keary of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Michael Lockman, a 2016 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, joined the firm in Nashville. Before he joined the firm, Lockman clerked for the Honorable Jay S. Bybee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Kaitlin Leary, a 2016 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law was promoted to Associate, working from the firm’s Nashville and D.C. offices. Leary clerked for the Honorable Joseph Goodwin of the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and for the Honorable Joseph M. Getty of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Frank Xu, a 2018 graduate of The George Washington University School of Law joined in DC as an Associate. Prior to joining the firm, he clerked for the Honorable Judge William Jackson on the DC Superior Court. James Hannaway, a 2019 graduate of The George Washington University Law School, was promoted to Associate in D.C. Hannaway clerked for the Honorable Deborah A. Robinson, Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Four lawyers have joined as Litigation Fellows. Yusuf Parry, earned a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2019, joined in San Diego office. Annie Sloan joined the New York office. Sloan earned a J.D. from Berkeley Law School in May 2020 and in the 2020-2021 term clerked for Chief Judge Mark Hornak, on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and for the 2022-2023 term will be clerking for Judge Mary H. Murguia of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Melissa Tribble, earned a J.D. from the University of California Davis School of Law in 2021 and Lindsay Marum earned a J.D. from the University of California Irvine School of Law in 2021 in San Francisco.
In May 2022 Hyun Kim will graduate from Columbia Law School and will join the New York office as a Litigation Fellow. For the 2023-2024 term, Kim will become a clerk for the Honorable Gerard Lynch, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.