Deborah K. Marcuse, Firm Managing Partner and Baltimore Managing Partner

Deborah K. Marcuse

Firm Managing Partner and Baltimore Managing Partner

My Story

Deborah K. Marcuse is Firm Managing Partner and Baltimore Office Managing Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp.

In 2022 Deborah received the Leadership in Law Award from the Maryland Daily Record and the Maryland State Bar Association. Deborah has also been recognized in the legal community by Benchmark Litigation with inclusion on its Inaugural Top 20 Labor and Employment Litigators List (2021), by the National Law Journal as one of the Elite Women of the Plaintiff’s Bar (2021) and a Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Trailblazer (2021), and by Law360 as an Employment MVP (2019). Deborah also received a Women Worth Watching in Leadership Award from Profiles in Diversity Journal (2021) and has been recognized as a Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment Star since 2018. Deborah leads the Sanford Heisler Sharp team recognized by the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition with its 2020 Impacting Justice Award.

At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Deborah’s practice has focused on the Discrimination and Harassment, Criminal/Sexual Violence and Public Interest practice areas, representing both individuals and classes. Her representations have included:

  • Litigating as lead counsel a landmark Title IX class action lawsuit against Dartmouth College brought on behalf of current and former female graduate students and undergraduates in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, culminating in a $14 million Court-approved monetary settlement that also included programmatic relief valued at an additional $1.5 million.
  • Litigating as lead counsel a case on behalf of the former head of Valuation & Advisory for global commercial real estate behemoth Cushman & Wakefield, defeating Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s race and gender discrimination claims and resolving the matter through confidential settlement.
  • Litigating as co-lead counsel high profile class and individual cases against global law firms, including Morrison & Foerster.
  • Serving as lead counsel for Sanford Heisler Sharp and litigating in partnership with attorneys at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Maryland, and the Capitol Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition to secure a preliminary injunction for a proposed class challenging unconstitutional bond hearing policies and practices of the Baltimore Immigration Court.
  • Litigating as co-lead class counsel nationwide gender discrimination class action lawsuits against Merck & Co., Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. on behalf of female pharmaceutical sales representatives, culminating in over $10 million in Court-approved settlements.
  • Litigating as lead counsel an age discrimination, gender discrimination, and retaliation case on behalf of the former Head of Americas Research at Cushman & Wakefield.
  • Negotiating tens of millions of dollars in pre-suit settlements for individuals with gender, race, and retaliation claims against their former employers within various industries, including finance, legal, medical, pharmaceutical and tech.

Deborah received her law degree from Yale Law School, her doctorate in Religion from Duke University, and her Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Yale College. During law school, Deborah was awarded the Frances Wayland Prize for her work with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, where she represented incarcerated individuals and persons in immigration detention.

A member of the Connecticut (retired status), District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania (inactive status) bars, Deborah has co-authored Supreme Court amicus briefs on behalf of women’s rights organizations and individuals in Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and on behalf of LGBT student organizations at undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools in Obergefell v. Hodges and presented at conferences on topics that include intersectionality, equal pay litigation, Title IX, deposition skills, and recognizing and eliminating bias in the workplace. Deborah is actively involved in the National Employment Lawyers’ Association, where she serves as Co-Chair of the Class and Collective Action Practice Group and Trial Boot Camp Faculty.

Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Deborah was the founding head of the City of New Haven’s Reentry Initiative as an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow.

When Deborah is not lawyering, she enjoys running, sleeping, and causing good trouble, often accompanied by her children, in her beloved Baltimore City.


  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • Ph.D., Duke University (Religion)
  • B.A., Yale College, cum laude with Distinction in History


  • Student Director, Prison Legal Services Clinic – Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale Law School
  • Complex Federal Litigation Clinic – Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale Law School
  • Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic – Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale Law School

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia, 2010
  • Maryland, 2018
  • New York, 2010

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut

Memberships & Activities

  • American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section
  • National Employment Lawyers’ Association (Co-Chair, Class Action Practice Group)
  • Fellow of the American Bar Association

“Deborah Marcuse provided me with support and guidance.”

David Sanford, as well as Deborah Marcuse and the entire team at the firm, provided me with support and guidance while protecting my interests aggressively. I will never stop thanking them.
– Suzy Reingold

A fierce advocate.

“I never felt more powerless than I did before hiring SHS. Deborah’s confidence that my firm’s actions were not only wrong, but discriminatory, helped me recover my lost sense of self. She was a fierce advocate and allowed me to see that so much of what I endured was wrong. Her support, her immediate understanding of the facts, and her masterful handling of the case left me in awe. I cannot imagine better representation. Her team, including legal assistants Merrick and Henry, is making the world, and the legal profession, better.”
– A Maritime Attorney, San Francisco

Compassionate outstanding advocates.

“After suffering years of gender discrimination, enduring a hostile work environment and arguing for equal pay, my law firm attempted to turn the tables on me, even filing suit against me to silence me, when they realized that I was pursuing legal action against them. I was devastated after decades of excellent performance and loyalty to the firm, and oh so very vulnerable and feeling all alone. Words will never fully capture how grateful I am to Deborah Marcuse, who saw the injustice and unfairness and recognized the extreme impact it was having on me and my young family, for taking on my complicated case at a time when I know that she was beyond busy and for turning the tables back on the bad actors. The entire team, Deborah, Saba, Ryan, Lucy and Carol, worked tirelessly on my behalf. They are an incredibly effective team and obtained a good result for me in mediation, but, most importantly, they were beyond compassionate. Thanks to Saba and Ryan for the amazing brief they submitted in response to the ridiculous lawsuit and handling the preliminary negotiations. Lucy and Carol, thank you for keeping me in the loop and staying on top of everything. You made mediation so much more bearable. And Deborah, you have no idea how much you did for me – not only did you achieve a great result, you helped me at a time when I needed it most, and there wasn’t a single moment that you didn’t fully understand exactly how I was feeling. You helped me get my life back, and I will never forget that. If you find yourself in need of employment counsel, I highly recommend Sanford Heisler Sharp. They are excellent lawyers; defendants respect them, and they will help you navigate through the intense emotional experience so that you always know that you are not alone.”
– Am Law 100 Partner

You two were just phenomenal!

“I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for your time with my class on February 14! You two were just phenomenal! You can’t imagine how much of a treat it is to get lawyers to come into the classroom and talk to students about actual cases. And, truth be told, it is not uncommon for lawyers just show up and start sharing war stories with no real prepared agenda. NOT true for you! It was absolutely clear to me that you two discussed the issues in advance and prepared a strong agenda designed to effectively teach my students (in 75 minutes or less–LOL) about the world of gender bias in employment. Your examples of some of the complexities in trying these cases and your thoughts about the challenges with the law were illuminating. Your execution was informative, engaging, flawless, and entertaining (Deborah you are really funny!!!). Students are still talking about your presentation! You gave us a gift that my students will never forget.”
– Kimberly Norwood

Outstanding and second to none.

“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

Attention and service.

Sanford Heisler Sharp and, particularly, Deborah Marcuse, can be compared to a first rate physician: the client is treated not just for the ailment, but the attention and service encompasses the entire body. No issue is too mundane for Deborah and she is available 24/7 no matter the issue.”
– Suzy Reingold, Commercial Real Estate

A passion for justice.

Sanford Heisler Sharp unites a passion for justice for employees with uncommon legal skill. It produces a superb work product even under extremely challenging time constraints. We found Sanford Heisler Sharp to be very responsive, able, and swift. We recommend them to anyone. Deborah Marcuse is a subtle negotiator with excellent judgment and a wide knowledge of the courts, the experts, and the law.”
– Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund

Worthy advocates

“David Sanford, 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

Dartmouth College Gender Discrimination/Title IX Class Action

The Complaint alleges that Dartmouth willfully ignored more than a decade of widespread sexual harassment by tenured professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley, and Paul Whalen, who formed a private “predators club” and treated the PBS Department like a “21st Century Animal House.”

Cushman & Wakefield Gender and Race Discrimination Suit

According to the Complaint, Ms. Urquhart-Bradley’s career advancement repeatedly faced discriminatory roadblocks despite her objectively outstanding performance.

Maryland Unconstitutional Immigration Detention Class Action

The complaint alleges that during bond hearings before the Baltimore Immigration Court, the government violates the constitutional rights of detainees when it requires that a detainee, rather than the government, bear the burden of proving that they are not a flight risk or a danger to the community in order to be freed.

Nagan Construction, Inc. False Claims Act Lawsuit – $831,000 Settlement

Mr. Yasti, a former employee of Nagan Construction, alleged that Nagan systematically failed to comply with the terms of its construction contracts with the federal and New York State Governments that required the company to pay its workers the prevailing wage under the Davis-Bacon Act and related laws.

Morrison & Foerster Gender, Pregnancy, and Maternity Discrimination Class and Collective Action

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.

Maria Sicola v. Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

The complaint alleges that the shocking decision to terminate Ms. Sicola and promote Mr. Thorpe in her place was the culmination of years of unlawful discrimination based on gender and age to which C&W’s all male global leadership team subjects women over 40.

Merck Gender Pay, Promotion and Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action

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.

Forest Laboratories Gender Discrimination Class Action – $4 Million Settlement

In July 2012, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a $100 million class action lawsuit against Forest Laboratories, Inc., and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Forest”) in federal court in New York, alleging, among other claims, that Forest discriminates against its female Sales Representatives by paying them less than their male counterparts. The Plaintiffs also allege claims of failure to promote, discrimination based on pregnancy and maternity leave, sexual harassment, and retaliation. In 2014, the Court denied Forest’s attempt to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ claims, and in 2015 the Court conditionally certified a class under the Equal Pay Act (EPA).


  • December 3, 2021, Faculty/Speaker, “Creative Deposition Strategies,” NELA Webinar/Workshop Series – Pre-trial Powerhouse: Skills for Success from ESI to Trial Day
  • June 25, 2021, Moderator/Speaker, National Employment Lawyers’ Association (NELA) Annual Conference, “Advanced Topics in Title IX”
  • April 29, 2021, Faculty/Speaker, “Confronting Workplace Bias: Understanding the Risks and Developing Effective Strategies,” Georgetown Law CLE: 2021 Advanced Commercial Leasing Institute
  • April 26, 2019, Panelist/Speaker, “The Aftermath of Epic Systems,” Pacific Coast Labor & Employment Law Conference
  • September 13, 2018, Panelist/Speaker, Practising Law Institute, Cutting-Edge Employment Law Issues 2018: The California Difference, “Pay Equity in Law Practice”
  • August 16, 2018, Panelist/Speaker, Federal Bar Association – San Diego Chapter, Equality in the Law Conference, “Solutions Panel – Combating Inequality in Our Community”
  • July 12, 2018, Panelist/Speaker, ABA Labor and Employment Employee Benefits Committee Webinar, “Masterpiece Cake Shop: Intersection Between Religious and Moral Liberty and Benefits”
  • February 16, 2018, Panelist/Speaker, Impact Fund 16th Annual Class Action Conference, “Managing the Haystack: How to Get the Most Out of Electronic Discovery”
  • February 8, 2018, Panelist/Speaker, ABA Labor & Employment Section, Employee Benefits Committee Midwinter Meeting, “Intersection Between Religion and Moral Liberty and Benefits”
  • June 22, 2017, Moderator/Speaker, National Employment Lawyers’ Association (NELA) Annual Conference, “Title VII & The Equal Pay Act: Dynamic Duo When Challenging Sex Discrimination In Compensation”
  • March 18, 2016, Panelist/Speaker, ABA Labor and Employment Section, Employee Rights & Responsibilities Committee Midwinter Conference, “Big Data and Wearable Technology in the Workplace: If the Fit Bit Fits, Wear It”


My Story