David Sanford

Mr. Sanford is the Chairman and co-founder of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP. Since 2004, Mr. Sanford has recovered more than $1 billion for individual clients and the United States government.

Meet Chairman David Sanford

Meet Chairman David Sanford

I am so grateful to have had David Sanford, David Tracey, Kate MacMullin and Alex Johnson fight for me. They never once wavered in believing in my case and helped me not only settlement wise, but also in sending the long-coming message to my firm that their mistreatment of women was no longer tolerated, nor will we stay quiet any longer. The team clearly demonstrated their expertise in employment discrimination law throughout my case. I felt that they always had my best interests at hand. They were very professional but also very good, patient listeners. And just overall good, genuine people. I used to blame myself for what happened, but now I have clarity and closure about the reality of the situation and can confidently move forward with my life and my future endeavors. A Former Client

David Sanford, David Tracey, Kate MacMullin and Alex Johnson provided me with endless support and careful guidance through one of the most challenging chapters of my career. After experiencing discrimination in the workplace, I felt helpless and afraid. The team at Sanford Heisler Sharp spoke with me for months to develop trust and share the information I needed to make a decision regarding legal representation. During this time, I never felt pressured to rush to an answer as my own interests and goals were always put first by the team.

Sanford Heisler Sharp gave me the courage to stand up for myself, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been represented by such sincere, talented and hardworking individuals. Thanks to the team, I have moved on to the next phase of my career with renewed confidence, inspiration and passion. I highly recommend Sanford Heisler Sharp to anyone navigating a similarly difficult situation. I'm so glad I went forward with the support of this group! A Former Client

Based upon Sanford Heisler’s reputation, I expected outstanding legal service. However, I cannot express how much I respect and appreciate the skill and compassion David, Russell, and Nicole demonstrated every single day. With their expert guidance and attention, they made an otherwise very difficult process tolerable. The Sanford Heisler team always made me believe the fight was worthwhile! Thank you all so much! General Counsel

When it comes to qui tam it would be hard to find a more dedicated team Sanford Heisler Sharp. They worked tirelessly to ensure my claim was filed swiftly and effectively. Years later, I remain in contact with David Sanford and continue to appreciate his consistent efforts to exceed all professional expectations. I highly recommend Sanford Heisler Sharp. Angie Silva, Whistleblower

David Sanford called me on Super Bowl Sunday (imagine that!) to let me know that Sanford Heisler Sharp would represent me. From start to finish, my legal team, Russell Kornblith, Ed Chapin, Adán Martinez, and Natalie Chew, demonstrated its intricate knowledge and interpretation of employment law, specifically the risks and psychology of my employer’s strategy. As the case progressed quickly and constructively, I felt understood and respected throughout each step of the journey. The outcome was beyond what I could have imagined! I thank Sanford Heisler Sharp in my heart every time I read about them in the press. Just be thankful that they are on YOUR side and not the opposing counsel! Former Banking Executive

I wanted to thank in particular Saba Bireda for her unwavering focus, patience, diligence and legal acumen. Excellent job…really well done. Many thanks to both her and Gabi Weldon for hanging in there with me. They are perfectionists and the result speaks for itself. And, of course, thanks to David Sanford for providing the strong foundation/strategy and for matching me with his team! Wow! I am still smiling with happiness from the result! I finally am sleeping at night and a huge burden has been lifted. Thank you... It means everything to me… I couldn’t be happier. A Female Television Executive

Thank you Deborah, David, and Alec so much for all of the time, advice, and legal expertise you have provided. The care you have taken to date has been outstanding and second to none! It has been truly valued and appreciated. Female Partner at AmLaw 100 Firm

I contacted David Sanford based on a recommendation when I was wrongfully terminated from my executive-level role. The case was complex since it involved a well-known and high-powered attorney that was threatening to ruin me and my reputation if I proceeded with the case. David, Adan Martinez, and Mariel Brunman were extremely classy, professional, and level-headed throughout the entire process and brought a tremendous amount of comfort and support to me. My opinions were valued, my doubts always heard, and I was always reassured with full transparency, integrity, and partnership. David and his team built a strong case and ultimately managed to reach a successful outcome through mediation that not only sent a strong message on wrongful termination but it gave me my credibility and confidence back. David and his team are competent, strategic, and a powerful opponent. They fought for me and were the voice I needed and wanted to represent me through this time. A Former Client

My experience with Sanford Heisler was truly transformative. Through our litigation against Columbia University, David Sanford, Jenn Siegel, and Ali Stack helped me reclaim not only my professional standing but also my dignity. Together, we set a precedent for accountability in the academy of which I could not be more proud. From beginning to end, I was awed by Sanford Heisler's tireless commitment to civil rights and their clients' well-being. I think of my attorneys and the extraordinary impact they have had on my life every day. Jane Doe

Thank you to Melinda, David, and the Sanford Heisler Sharp team for your outstanding and winning counsel, powerful support and true humanity. It was a real privilege to work with such a professional and caring group of people. I am particularly grateful for Melinda’s hard work, sharp mind and empathy throughout the process during a very difficult time.Former Marketing Executive

David Sanford and his team achieved a tremendous result in obtaining a confidential-seven-digit settlement from my company, and measurable change. I had approached my former company through its internal channels about the stark gender pay disparity. Unfortunately, my concerns went unanswered. That is until David Sanford and team reached out to them. We held a confidential mediation and settled the case without filing a lawsuit. All the while David and team were professional, attentive, passionate, and wicked smart. As a corporate employment attorney myself, I can say that David is the most skilled plaintiff’s lawyer that I’ve ever met. He is caring, humble, ever graceful, and unwavering in character. Other lawyers may huff and puff, but defense counsel know that David has the skills and the bench strength to follow through with his demands. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. And having put the episode behind me, I accepted a position at a new company in a better role for fair pay. A Former Client

David Sanford is simply the best attorney I have ever worked with. His team of lawyers and staff are superbly trained and accomplished. David represented me and family members and we settled during the litigation. I've never seen anybody handle depositions and mediation as masterfully and skillfully as David Sanford does. I highly recommend this world class firm to everyone. A Former Client

Just read the article in American Lawyer about your win in the Chadbourne case and felt compelled to write and say – Thank You – for fighting the good fight. I will always be grateful for your support both professionally and personally and I can only imagine the individuals you are representing are similarly thankful to have you as their gladiator. Lorene Schaefer, Former General Counsel of General Electric Transportation

I could not be happier with my Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP experience. Confronting racial discrimination in the workplace was the hardest decision I've made in my 20+ year career. Vincent McKnight understood my situation immediately and helped me to clearly understand the pros and cons of my options. David Sanford got my former employer's full attention and confidentially resolved my employment matter in a very thorough, professional and efficient manner. He was steady throughout the entire process and it was extremely reassuring to see him fight for me. Great attorneys who are also excellent at listening to the client. M.B., Former Client

I turned to Sanford Heisler Sharp after numerous unsuccessful efforts of sharing my concerns of bias and gender discrimination to my management. The discrimination continued for many years. I had a long successful career, a Masters degree in Organizational Management, with numerous awarded accomplishments. So, I decided I was no longer going to allow the discrimination to continue to myself or others. David Sanford and his team took on this giant international company, with concern and respect, diligence, detail, and an in-depth understanding of the numerous levels of inequities of gender discrimination from training, promotions, salaries and harassment within the company's culture. They achieved both a great outcome of compensation for the victims, and helped insure a plan of corrective measures for the company. I would highly recommend Sanford Heisler, their amazing efforts and results made such a positive difference to so many, and could do the same for you. It certainly did for me. Deborah Doak Davis, Plaintiff in Novartis Gender Discrimination Matter

I worked with the team and Sanford Heisler Sharp in a class action litigation against a Fortune 500 company—a frightening thing for anyone to sign up for, let alone a middle-aged woman with more than 25 years at that same company. The care, concern, and understanding from David Sanford and the team at the firm were so supportive. They also knew exactly how to make the company pay attention, resolve the issues, and compensate the victims. I was able to leave with my dignity, my pride and a future that has been wide open with new possibilities. Margaret Harding, Former Client

David has the largely unique ability to be extremely aggressive and, at the same time, both very professional and even-tempered. Defendants who have a claim asserted by David Sanford and his firm know they have their hands full. You know you’re going to have a real fight on your hands. Glen Nager, Partner, Jones Day

David is an awesome attorney, down to earth and has a big heart. I think he is a wonderful person and has a great team of personnel. I loved working with him. I am so grateful to him and his team for all the time, effort and support they gave me. Donna Bryan, former client

Even among the nation’s top tier class action and plaintiffs law firms, Sanford Heisler Sharp stands out in its record of success. Led by David Sanford and Jeremy Heisler, this Firm has proven again and again it has the necessary talent, experience, intelligence, creativity, and resources to represent workers and whistleblowers successfully against even the country’s largest employers. Lorene Schaefer, Esq., President of WinWinResolve.com and Former GC of GE Transportation

David dedicated a large amount of time to get to know me and the circumstances of my case. He helped me maintain balance throughout the process. He always demonstrated clear thinking, self-confidence, and strength. He is extremely smart, experienced and a great strategist. Claudia Goulart, Former Head of Health Care for GE in Latin America

David is very warm, he’s very smart, he made me feel like I was his only client. We never rushed when we had a conversation. He runs a fantastic firm.Elly Rosenthal, Former CFO at Proskauer Rose LLP

Ali Harwin represented me in my action against my employer while I was still employed there. I had suffered almost five years of harassment and marginalization and, frankly, I had a very deep fear of retaliation from my manager. I felt absolutely powerless to defend myself. David Sanford and Ali took action to immediately legally protect me while I was in a very vulnerable position. Ali then guided me through the entire process, striking the right balance between providing transparency regarding what was happening and protecting me from the very negative aspects of the firm’s rebuttals. She held me up when I felt no strength to continue and fought hard to get me what I deserved. She is a successful balance of tenacity, integrity and a soft touch in her advocacy. I was very fortunate to have Ali on my side and I highly recommend her to those considering retaining Sanford Heisler Sharp!Financial Services Professional

David Sanford, Steven Kelly, Deborah Marcuse and the Sanford Heisler Sharp team are worthy advocates for anyone needing help in navigating the path to justice. Alexander Prout, Managing Director, Head of Asia Pacific at Deutsche Asset Management

I built my professional reputation on putting company interests first, so I was blindsided when my company threatened to terminate me in a visible and unfair fashion. I was terrified to take legal action, but I’m so glad I did. Conor, Felicia, Xandra, Miriam, and David protected my role and reputation, secured a financial settlement >10x the company’s original offer, and, most importantly, gave me the strength and courage to stand up for myself. Their professionalism, candor, and warmth kept me sane through one of the darkest times in my life, and I can’t imagine going through that without them. A Former Client

Watch David’s Interview on Good Morning America

David Sanford GMA ABC News

Watch David’s Interview on the Ellen Pao Sex Discrimination Case

Ellen Pao Sex Discrimination Case

David Sanford is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, a national law firm with offices in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. He received his J.D. from Stanford Law School, M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and B.A. from Vassar College. David has recovered more than one billion dollars for individual clients and the United States government since 2004.

David represents C-suite executives and non-managerial hourly employees throughout the US. He has served as lead counsel in more than 50 class actions and numerous qui tam cases around the country and represented more than 100 general counsel and attorneys (in-house and outside counsel) in contract disputes, employment matters, and severance packages.

Within the past year, David was lead counsel in a $14.25 million class action settlement against Rabbi Freundel and other defendants on behalf of women surreptitiously videotaped while performing a religious cleansing ritual; and David settled a $4 million gender discrimination case on behalf of female members of Forest Laboratories’ national sales force.  David was lead trial counsel for a professor at Columbia University Business School in a sexual harassment/retaliation matter, which culminated in a $1.25 million jury verdict after a three week trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

David is lead counsel currently representing more than 15 female partners at BigLaw firms throughout America. On behalf of three female partners, he recently settled a case alleging gender discrimination and pay inequity against Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fulbright). He also recently settled a gender discrimination matter on behalf of female partner at Proskauer Rose and Sedgwick. For his work in bringing cases and discussing the issues surrounding gender equality in law firms, the American Lawyer had chosen David as a finalist for its 2018 Attorney of the Year award.

He is also class counsel in ERISA matters pending against Morgan Stanley, Home Depot and General Electric. David has also settled gender discrimination class actions with extensive class-wide relief against Novartis, Daiichi Pharmaceuticals, Qualcomm, Publicis, and Alcon Pharmaceuticals.

David was inducted into the National Law Journal’s “Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame” and named among the top 100 trial lawyers in America by the National Trial Lawyers. He is recognized as a “Top Employment Lawyer” by American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and the National Law Journal; and rated “Band One” by Chambers. Recognized by Law360 as an “Employment Lawyer MVP” and as a “Titan of the Plaintiffs’ Bar,” David has also been selected as a “Super Lawyer” in both Washington, DC and New York. Since 2006, he has been AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given to an attorney by judges and attorneys nationwide.

He sits on the Board of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and on the Board of Corps Africa. David is a member of the advisory board of the Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion, and Resources, a non-profit focused on increasing diversity in the plaintiffs’ employment bar and raising public consciousness about workers’ rights; is on the advisory board of Aernos; and is an advisory forum member of the Stanford University Center on the Legal Profession.


  • J.D., Stanford Law School 1995
  • ABD, UNC, Chapel Hill 1985
  • M.A., UNC, Chapel Hill 1984
  • B.A., Vassar College 1980


  • Honorable Gladys Kessler, United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Bar Admissions

  • New York
  • Maryland 1997
  • District of Columbia 1998

Court Admissions

  • United States District Court for the District of Maryland (1998)
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia (1998)
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida (2006)
  • United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois (2006)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1998)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (2016)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2017)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2010)
  • United States Supreme Court (2005)

Scripps Health System Whistleblower Lawsuit – $1.5 Million Settlement

The whistleblower alleged that the San Diego-based Scripps Health System unlawfully billed the United States Government for physical therapy services on behalf of a physician who was not present while the services were rendered. The case claimed that Scripps persisted in this conduct despite warnings from the whistleblower.

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Robert De Niro Lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges that De Niro and Canal Productions subjected their longtime employee, Graham Chase Robinson, to a hostile work environment, including unwelcome physical contact, sexually-charged comments, verbal abuse, and sex-stereotyping.

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JUUL Labs, Inc. Whistleblower Retaliation/Wrongful Termination Case

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP represents Siddharth Breja in his whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination claims against JUUL Labs, Inc.

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Temple St. Clair Whistleblower Action – $796,000 Settlement

The case is thought to be the first in New York to recover money for the United States government based on the defendant’s failure to properly mark its products with their country of origin.

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Cracker Barrel Race Discrimination Class Action – $8.7 Million Settlement

David Sanford was lead counsel in a race discrimination class action suit against Cracker Barrel restaurants. The case concerned discrimination in pay and promotion, and also involved discrimination against African-American customers. The United States Department of Justice intervened in the case after five years of litigation and the suit settled for $8.7 million.

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Nargol et al. v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. et al.

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP brought whistleblower claims on behalf of Dr. Antoni Nargol and Dr. David Langton, two physicians and researchers who were first to uncover that medical-device company DePuy Orthopaedics manufactured and sold large numbers of defective hip implants to the government.

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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. PAGA Lawsuit

The plaintiff is former Ogletree equity partner Tracy Warren, who filed the representative action on behalf of herself and other similarly situated current or former female attorneys employed in California at the storied defense-side labor and employment firm. Ms. Warren filed the action under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA).

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Jones Day Gender Discrimination Class and Collective Action

The complaint details how the Big Law firm’s culture harms female associates in compensation and partnership decisions.

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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The complaint asserts that Ogletree uses a number of tactics to shortchange female shareholders in pay and promotions. The firm manipulates allocation of origination credits by unfairly attributing such credits to male shareholders, even when women at the firm are the ones who bring in the client.

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Walgreens ERISA Class Action

The complaint alleges Walgreens failed to remove from its employee retirement plan a suite of ten target retirement date funds that have underperformed their investment benchmarks.

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