Photo of Brent A. Hannafan

Brent A. Hannafan

Nashville Partner

Brent Hannafan is a Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and Co-Chair of the firm’s Trial Practice Group.

At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Brent’s practice has focused on employment discrimination, public interest litigation, and complex civil litigation, representing both individuals and classes. Brent also handles select federal criminal defense matters.

Working with a team of Sanford Heisler Sharp attorneys, Brent has represented clients including:

  • Trial counsel in the recent trial of Mattson, et al. v. Milliman, Inc. (WDWA) on the class’s claims of breaches of ERISA’s duties of loyalty and prudence
  • Trial counsel in the recent trial of Graham Chase Robinson against the actor Robert De Niro and his company, Canal Productions, in her claims of gender discrimination and retaliation against the company
  • Dozens of counties and cities across the nation in their claims against opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers
  • The ongoing class litigation on behalf of current and former 401(k) plan participants in claims of fiduciary breach against UnitedHealth Group in Snyder v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc. et al.
  • The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore in claims against Polymer80 for manufacturing, selling, and advertising easy-to-assemble, un-traceable ghost gun kits and parts
  • Litigating discrimination claims on behalf of a bank’s senior executive

Brent received his law degree from Washington University and his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University. While at Washington University, he was an Articles Editor on the law review Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law.

Brent is a member of the Tennessee and New York bars. Before joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Brent was an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee. Brent investigated and prosecuted all variety of federal crimes and tried over 20 criminal jury trials to verdict. In 2017, Brent was awarded a Department of Justice Director’s Award for his prosecution of members of a large-scale drug trafficking organization and obstruction of justice by a local police office.

Brent served as the Chief of the Office’s Criminal Division from 2017 to 2023. As Chief of the Criminal Division, he managed and oversaw all federal criminal investigations and prosecutions in the Middle District of Tennessee. Those cases involved health care fraud, bank, wire, mail, investment, and tax frauds, public corruption, murder-for-hire, drug trafficking, firearms, money laundering, RICO, VICAR, civil rights violations, terrorism, child exploitation, and immigration offenses. As Criminal Chief, he participated in trial preparation, strategic planning, and advising trial teams for more than 50 trials.

Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Brent worked a litigation associate at two international law firms in New York and Chicago.

Brent taught as an instructor at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center’s Basic Trial Advocacy Course from 2010 to 2023. He also teaches Trial Advocacy as an Adjunct Professor at Belmont College of Law.


  • J.D., Washington University
  • B.A., Vanderbilt University

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois (retired status)
  • New York
  • Tennessee 

Court Admissions

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York


  • Adjunct Professor at Belmont College of Law – Trial Advocacy Course (since 2017)
  • Instructor at the Basic Trial Advocacy Course at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center (2010 to 2023)

UnitedHealth Certified ERISA Class Action

This class action accuses the fiduciaries of UnitedHealth’s 401(k) plan of violating their fiduciary duties under ERISA by keeping one of the worst-performing target date investment options in the entire market, the Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite, as the plan’s default investment for over a decade.

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.

Polymer80 Ghost Gun Case

The Complaint, filed by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, alleges that Polymer80 violates Maryland and federal firearms law by manufacturing, selling, and advertising easy-to-assemble, un-traceable gun kits and parts that have created a public nuisance in the City of Baltimore, where 91% of ghost guns seized by police are sold by Polymer80.

Virginia Opioid Litigation

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of 59 Virginia cities and counties against Big Pharma drug manufacturers, wholesalers/distributors, retail pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) for knowingly creating and profiting from the opioid crisis that has devastated communities across the country. Together, the cities and counties constitute roughly 60% of Virginia’s total population.