Cara Van Dorn, Senior Litigation Counsel

Cara Van Dorn

Senior Litigation Counsel

Cara Van Dorn is a Senior Litigation Counsel at Sanford Heisler Sharp.

At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Cara’s practice has focused on discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and wrongful termination, representing individuals treated unjustly by employers. Cara was an integral part of the four-attorney team that represented twenty-two victims of the now infamous fraudulent and exploitative pornography scheme GirlsDoPorn through a 99-day bench trial that resulted in a more than $20 million judgment and permanent injunctions prohibiting the company’s deceptive and unlawful practices. The perpetrators of GirlsDoPorn’s criminal enterprise have all been indicted on federal sex trafficking charges and have either pleaded guilty, are serving time, or have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

Alongside the same team of attorneys, Cara represented 50+ GirlsDoPorn victims in a related, trail-blazing case against MindGeek, the company that owns and operates behemoth pornography website The complaint alleged that MindGeek had violated federal sex trafficking laws by participating in and knowingly profiting from the GirlsDoPorn sex trafficking venture. The GirlsDoPorn and MindGeek cases received both national and international attention and earned Sanford Heisler Sharp the honor of being named the Elite Trial Lawyers’ Human Rights Firm of the Year in 2021 and the Civil Rights Firm of the Year in 2022.

Working with a team of Sanford Heisler Sharp attorneys, Cara’s clients have included:

  • female scientists at the top of their fields who were discriminated against and terminated from pharmaceutical companies based on their sex and gender
  • a city attorney who was fired for her refusal to violate public records laws
  • healthcare executives who were terminated from their positions after investigating, reporting, and opposing unlawful conduct at a California hospital district and medical foundation
  • an auditor of a nationwide bank who was retaliated against and terminated for reporting violations of banking statutes and regulations
  • a nurse at a psychiatric hospital who was fired for opposing and reporting persistent and dangerous understaffing
  • a female lawyer who was discriminatorily denied business development opportunities and wrongfully terminated

Cara received her law degree from Wake Forest School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While at Wake Forest, Cara received CALI awards for achieving the top grade in several classes and provided pro bono legal services to elderly individuals with limited means in the Elder Law Clinic. While at UNC, Cara studied comparative literature, ran two marathons, and walked on to the varsity Women’s Rowing team.

A member of the California and South Carolina (inactive) bars, Cara has authored two articles that appear in the Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law.

Before joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Cara was an associate at Motley Rice, where she gained valuable experience in tobacco, asbestos, securities, and burn pit litigation.

When Cara is not lawyering, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, biking, endeavoring to grow things, and watching hummingbirds perform aerobatics.


  • J.D., Wake Forest University School of Law, cum laude
  • B.A., University of North Carolina

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • South Carolina (currently inactive status)

True Professionals

Deciding to take action and pursue a legal case was a complicated and emotional decision. Ed, Cara, Jonathan, Leigh Anne, Kaitlin, and the rest of the team at Sanford Heisler Sharp supported me through this journey, providing expert guidance, caring, and compassion. They took the time needed to absorb the nuances of my situation, continued to navigate through roadblocks, demonstrated the patience of true professionals, and led my case to a successful outcome for me and my family. I will be forever grateful!

— Former Client

I was treated with great compassion, dignity, and expertise.

I was treated with great compassion, dignity, and expertise. Thank you!  Joanna Brooks

Kraft Heinz Lawsuit

Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a $30 million civil action in the Eastern District of California against Kraft Heinz Foods Company on behalf of former employees Alex Horn, Lance Aytman, and Keith Hooker.

Mindgeek Sex Trafficking Civil Lawsuit

On behalf of 40 victims of the website, attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp filed civil charges against the parent company of the free “tubesite” for profiting from GDP’s fraudulent pornography scheme. Lawsuit – $13 Million Verdict

The women allege they were exploited by the defendants after answering modeling advertisements on Craigslist. When Plaintiffs submitted their personal information to sham modeling websites (such as, they became targets of Defendants’ fraudulent recruiting scheme for