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.
I contacted David Sanford at Sanford Heisler Sharp after I was suddenly terminated from my executive role after twenty-three years of service. I shared my story with David, Meredith, Alok and Alex. The company culture had always been hostile towards women. I was one of the very few women in an executive role. I survived by keeping my head down and consistently outperforming my male peers but was suddenly replaced by a man I suspected was paid more to perform the same job I did. We filed claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. Despite the opposition’s constant delay tactics, which was almost three years’ worth, Meredith Firetog was professional, caring, persistent and tenacious when necessary. Meredith, Alok and Alex were just the team I needed to battle the good ol’ boy culture that resonated throughout the private family conglomerate.A Former Client, President & General Manager
I could not have been more fortunate to have come across the law firm of Sanford Heisler Sharp. After a desperate search on the internet for national employment firms when employment lawyers in my own state left me incredibly disappointed, they responded in less than 24 hours, and arranged a phone conversation with Mr. David Sanford shortly thereafter. Even the young intake specialist understood the details of my case better than experienced lawyers at other firms. Throughout the process, I was impressed by the level of commitment, legal knowledge, analysis, thorough research and review, confidence, and strong document preparation by this firm. Most importantly, this is a firm that practices law ethically. What sets them apart is their sincere passion for their work - from the firm's intake coordinators all the way up to the partners.
The discrimination that I as a woman of color faced at work had left me emotionally and physically distressed, and I was so appreciative of their genuine empathy and concern around my health. Moreover, they are not deterred by large and influential employers, and have experience across a wide range of industries. They evaluated the merits of my case, examined the evidence and made a compelling argument that completely disarmed the defending party. At the end, I was able to get my former employer to agree to a majority of my terms in the settlement. There is a reason that this is one of the best rated law firms in the country. I am forever grateful for Mr. Sanford's sage advice, the hard work and patience demonstrated by his team, and the final outcome of my case.A Former Client
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
Navigating a sexual abuse case against a well-endowed private school, I was fortunate to have Christine Dunn and David Sanford in my corner to determine the facts of my case, discuss possible strategies, and gather all the facts. If you are a survivor, you know this an emotional and brave journey that requires a great deal of support, time and resolve. Throughout my intense 10-month journey during the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Sanford Heisler was available to guide me along the way, and was supportive of my experience. In the end, we came to a resolution. I was blind to the law, but my dedicated and knowledgeable team at this amazing law firm showed me the light and gave me power. Without hesitation I recommend Christine Dunn, Sophie Tohl and David Sanford, who will vigorously represent you as they fight for justice. In my experience, the team at Sanford Heisler Sharp know how to solve for the best possible outcomes.A Former Client
David Sanford and Danielle Fuschetti helped me with two cases with great results. They were attentive to detail from the first call and assisted me every step of the way with an unbelievable work ethic. It took David and every brilliant team member's hard work to achieve a satisfactory outcome. I am forever grateful for being able to find such a great team to work with. The team at Sanford Heisler consists of great people who are not only very skillful in the legal domain, but are also wonderful human beings with the highest degree of empathy for their clients. They helped me to go through the process of a lengthy legal battle with relative ease because I was confident that they were behind me to support, to consult, to help. David exemplifies how a great lawyer and human being should behave and conduct business. The firm he built is wonderful and I would recommend anyone who has any doubt in their workplace to contact David and Sanford Heisler Sharp. A Female Director in a Tech Company
David Sanford is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Sanford Heisler Sharp, 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 (ABD), and B.A. from Vassar College.
David clerked for Judge Gladys Kessler on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
David was inducted into The National Law Journal’s “Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame” and selected as one of the top 100 trial lawyers in America by the National Trial Lawyers.
David was named an “Attorney of the Year Finalist” in 2018 by The American Lawyer, a “Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Trailblazer” in 2018 by The National Law Journal, and the “Labor & Employment Attorney of the Year” in 2021 and 2019 by Benchmark Litigation.
David is recognized as a top employment lawyer by The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, and The National Law Journal; and he has been ranked a “Leader in the Field in New York for Labor & Employment: Mainly Plaintiffs Representation” by Chambers and Partners.
David has also been recognized as an “Employment MVP” and a “Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar” by Law360, one of the leading plaintiff employment lawyers in America by Lawdragon, and as a “Top Rated Employment & Labor Attorney” in both Washington, DC and New York by Super Lawyers.
Every year since 2006, David has been AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given to an attorney by judges and attorneys nationwide, and he has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America by Best Lawyers.
David is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
David and the attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp represent individuals in claims against corporate entities. Most cases are resolved through confidential and private mediation and before any matter is publicly filed.
David represents C-suite executives and non-managerial hourly employees throughout the United States. He has served as lead counsel in more than 50 class actions and numerous whistleblower and qui tam cases.
David has represented more than 100 general counsel and attorneys (in-house and law firm counsel) in contract disputes, employment matters, and severance negotiations.
David won as lead counsel the largest employment verdict in United States history, a $253 million dollar verdict on behalf of 6,000 women in Velez v. Novartis after a six-week trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He also was lead counsel in a $99 million dollar settlement against Novartis in a wage and hour class action on behalf of pharmaceutical representatives.
David has settled gender discrimination class actions with extensive class-wide relief against Daiichi Pharmaceuticals ($8.2 million), Qualcomm ($19.5 million) (named one of the top settlements in California in 2016 by TopVerdict.com), Sanofi Pharmaceuticals ($15 million), Alcon Pharmaceuticals ($8 million), and Western Digital ($7.75 million). Other gender discrimination settlements include matters against Merck, Publicis Groupe, Forest Laboratories, and General Electric. Most matters are settled before a matter is publicly filed.
David was lead class 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.
David has been lead counsel for more than 100 women general counsel and partners at BigLaw firms throughout America. For example, on behalf of three women partners, he recently settled a case alleging gender discrimination and pay inequity against Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fulbright). He also recently settled gender discrimination matters on behalf of woman partners at many AmLaw 100 firms. The vast majority of BigLaw cases have settled confidentially before a lawsuit was filed.
David was lead counsel in a $28 million wage and hour class settlement against Pac Bell, Bell South, and SNET; co-lead counsel in a $16 million race discrimination settlement against Kroger; class counsel in a $14 million settlement against Dartmouth in a Title IX and hostile environment matter; lead counsel in a $8.7 million settlement in a race discrimination class action against Cracker Barrel; and many other matters both public and private.
David was lead trial counsel for a professor at Columbia University Business School in a sexual harassment and 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. The verdict was named one of the top civil rights violation verdicts in the United States in 2018 by TopVerdict.com.
David is class counsel in ERISA matters pending against Home Depot, General Electric, Walgreens, and Allstate. He was class counsel in ERISA matters that recently settled against Eaton Vance and Transamerica.
David was co-counsel in a $762 million settlement between the United States government and Amgen. Amgen allegedly defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and other governmental health care programs by promoting “off label” uses of certain prescription drugs and paying kickbacks to doctors and other health care providers.
David has been a board member of the Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem since 2011; a board member of CorpsAfrica since 2010; an advisory board member since 2014 of the Stanford University Center on the Legal Profession; an advisory board member since 2011 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; and a member of the advisory board of AerNos.
- 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, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- New York
- Maryland, 1997
- District of Columbia, 1998
- U.S. Supreme Court, 2005
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 1998
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, 2016
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 2017
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2010
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, 1998
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 1998
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, 2006
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, 2006
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.
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP represents Siddharth Breja in his whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination claims against JUUL Labs, Inc.
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.
This gender discrimination class action against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. was originally filed by Plaintiff Kelli Smith in May 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. In January 2014, four additional class representatives from around the country joined the suit as plaintiffs alleging pay, promotion and pregnancy discrimination against the company.
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).
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.
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.
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP brought a whistleblower/qui tam matter against AtriCure, Inc, (“AtriCure”), a medical device manufacturer. Subsequently, AtriCure agreed to pay $4.15 million to resolve all claims against it. The Complaint charged that AtriCure violated the Federal False Claims Act by using illegal kickbacks and an off-label marketing campaign to induce doctors and hospitals to perform AtriCure’s costly inpatient cardiac surgical ablation procedures rather than standard, and more effective outpatient catheter ablation procedures. As a result, the Medicare program faced substantially increased costs from AtriCure’s unnecessary and expensive procedures.
According to the complaint, the three student plaintiffs were groped at fraternity parties in their first semesters at Yale. The student plaintiffs know of other female students who experienced similar sexual harassment and assault during and after fraternity parties and at the hands of fraternity brothers.
This case has been settled and the class settlement is pending court approval. If the Court approves, Western Digital will make a non-reversionary payment of $7.75 million to settle class claims for gender discrimination and unequal pay for female employees.
Sanford Heisler Sharp has filed claims that through the use of a long and confusing set of Terms and Conditions issued to each sales representative with his or her compensation plan, Oracle unlawfully and retroactively reduced the commissions of sales representatives based on grounds, criteria, and methods not defined in a signed commission contract. The case is currently in discovery and continuing investigation.
The Complaint, which is filed on behalf of three female associates currently employed at MoFo, alleges the international law firm practices systemic gender discrimination against female lawyers, particularly those who are pregnant or have children.
Early in 2015, Freundel plead guilty in a criminal proceeding before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to numerous counts of illicitly filming women as they used the “mikvah”- a Jewish ritual bath frequently used by married Orthodox women as well as by women undergoing conversion to Judaism.
The complaint alleges that when Ms. Saltzman complained to EXL Board Member Clyde Ostler about the discrimination that she was personally experiencing, the company fired her.
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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- Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame Inductee, The National Law Journal, 2015
- Attorney of the Year Finalist, The American Lawyer, 2018
- Labor & Employment Attorney of the Year, Benchmark Litigation, 2021 and 2019
- Top Rated Employment Lawyer, Corporate Counsel
The American Lawyer
- Top Rated Employment Lawyer, The American Lawyer
The National Law Journal
- Top Rated Employment Lawyer, The National Law Journal
- Plaintiffs' Lawyer Trailblazer, The National Law Journal, 2018
- AV-rated every year since 2006 (highest rating given to an attorney by judges and attorneys nationwide), Martindale-Hubbell
- Top Rated Lawyer, Martindale-Hubbell
- Labor & Employment Attorney of the Year, Benchmark Litigation, 2021 and 2019
- Labor & Employment Star - Northeast, Benchmark Litigation, 2020, 2019, 2018
Chambers and Partners
- Leader in the Field in New York for Labor & Employment: Mainly Plaintiffs Representation, Chambers and Partners, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
- Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for work in the field of “Employment Law – Individuals,” Best Lawyers, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019
- Washington, DC’s Best Lawyers: Employment Plaintiffs, Washingtonian, 2020, 2019, 2018
National Trial Lawyers Association
- Top 10 Wage & Hour Trial Lawyers, National Trial Lawyers Association
- Top 25 Class Action Trial Lawyers, National Trial Lawyers Association
American Bar Foundation
- Fellow of the American Bar Foundation