Public Interest Litigation Practice Group
The Importance of Public Interest Litigation
At Sanford Heisler Sharp we pursue multifaceted advocacy to support our clients and change the law. We view our practice as a part of broader movements for civil rights, workers’ rights, and corporate accountability. For that reason, we have a dedicated Public Interest Litigation Practice Group that brings cases, develops partnerships, and pursues advocacy that promotes positive developments in law and public policy.
In pursuit of these goals:
- We bring novel and high-impact lawsuits.
- We partner with governments, non-profits, and community-based organizations.
- We engage in policy advocacy before legislatures and administrative bodies.
On This Page
In addition to our Discrimination and Harassment, Wage and Hour, Sexual Violence, Title IX, and Victims’ Rights, Financial Services, and Whistleblower practices, the firm’s Public Interest Litigation Practice Group devotes itself to a broad range of cases promoting and affecting the public interest. We often pursue novel legal theories, seek important legal reforms, and raise awareness about emerging issues of public concern, including in the areas of civil and human rights, public health, consumer rights, and economic justice.
In these cases, the Public Interest Litigation Practice Group represents individuals, classes of plaintiffs, governmental bodies, non-profits, and advocacy organizations.
Our clients have included:
- City and county governments across the nation in their claims against opioid manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and pharmacy benefit managers who created and contributed to our country’s ongoing opioid epidemic
- Twenty-two young women from across the U.S. in their case against operators of the website GirlsdoPorn.com, resulting in a $13 million verdict with additional injunctive relief after a 99-day bench trial
- Herman Wallace, Robert King Wilkerson, and Albert Woodfox (the “Angola 3”), in their constitutional challenge to prolonged solitary confinement in Louisiana’s Angola Prison
- Native American activist Leonard Peltier in his clemency petition, challenging the constitutionality of his conviction after four decades of incarceration
- A class of 16- and 17-year-old incarcerated Black and Latino youth challenging the constitutionality of locking juveniles in solitary confinement at the Onondaga County Justice Center
- A group of Yale University students challenging the gender segregation in fraternity houses as a violation of the Fair Housing Act
- A proposed class of detained noncitizens challenging the constitutionality of bond hearing policies and practices within Baltimore Immigration Court
- Victims of deceptive financial services schemes, including consumers who have paid excessive fees for banking, energy, and other consumer services
Our attorneys have both broad and deep experience working in the public interest. Public Interest Practice Group Co-Chair and Firm Co-Vice Chair Kevin Sharp is a former U.S. District Court judge and a leading voice in nationwide efforts for criminal justice reform. Among his broad efforts in this area, Judge Sharp has been a tireless public advocate for reform and has represented individuals seeking clemency and other post-conviction relief.
Judge Sharp’s advocacy for Native American activist Leonard Peltier exemplifies our firm’s multifaceted approach to public interest practice. In addition to representing Mr. Peltier in his clemency proceedings, Judge Sharp has amplified Mr. Peltier’s cause in numerous media appearances, collaborated with community groups that support Mr. Peltier, and advocated in Congress for Mr. Peltier’s release.
As a result of our public interest efforts, Sanford Heisler Sharp was named Elite Trial Lawyers’ 2021 Human Rights Law Firm of the Year and received CAIR Coalition’s 2020 Impacting Justice Award. Kevin Sharp was also recognized as a Trailblazer in The American Lawyer’s inaugural South Trailblazers publication for his work on criminal justice reform.
At Sanford Heisler Sharp, we recognize that developing strong partnerships is central to effective public interest advocacy. For that reason, we regularly co-counsel with and represent governments, non-profits, and community groups.
Our firm has partnered as co-counsel with (among other organizations), the AARP Foundation, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Maryland, the Capitol Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Legal Services of Central New York, Mobilization for Justice, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NYU Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, and Public Justice. Lawyers in our firm are also active with the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) and its local affiliates, and we regularly work with NELA on conferences, amicus briefs, and policy advocacy.
Our public clients include the City of Baltimore in its lawsuit against Polymer80, the nation’s largest manufacturer of ghost guns. We have also represented a number of organizational plaintiffs, including the NAACP in our litigation against Cracker Barrel.
Sanford Heisler Sharp is strongly committed to advocating for policy reform that promotes civil rights, workers’ rights, and corporate accountability. Our firm regularly leverages its expertise as civil litigators to support legislative and regulatory reform and to educate the public.
As part of these efforts, our firm submits public comments and provides testimony to legislators and regulators. Some of the comments and testimony we have submitted include:
- Encouraging the EEOC to Adopt Strong Regulations Implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
- Encouraging the Department of Labor to Implement Regulations Increasing the Salary Thresholds for Certain Exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Encouraging New York City to Adopt a Ban on No-Rehire Clauses.
- Encouraging New York City to Adopt Strong Regulations Requirement Algorithmic Bias Audits.
- Encouraging the Department of Education to Adopt Regulations Allowing Students to Participate in Sports in Accordance with their Gender.
- Encouraging California to Add Caste as a Protected Category Under its Antidiscrimination Statutes.
If you think you have potential legal claims that have a broad public impact, reach out to the Public Interest Litigation Practice Group at Sanford Heisler Sharp.