Brenda is a fierce and experienced litigator who has represented countless survivors in the pursuit of justice against institutional misconduct. She is particularly passionate about seeking justice for women and children, including fighting against racial disparities in maternal and infant health care, and holding institutional enablers of sexual abuse accountable for their wrongdoing.
Brenda’s practice includes advocating on behalf of victims of negligence and other wrongful conduct in high-stakes medical malpractice, sexual abuse, and civil rights cases. Brenda represented numerous clients sexually abused by former University of Southern California (“USC”) gynecologist, George Tyndall, in the largest known sexual abuse case recovery and personal injury settlement against a university in U.S. history. Brenda successfully argued, and won an appellate argument in New York, resulting in a precedent setting decision that cleared the way for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file suits under a successor liability theory. Brenda has achieved numerous legal victories against some of the nation’s most powerful religious institutions, and in doing so, secured large settlements on her clients’ behalf. She has represented clients in cases against major corporations, and government entities, including filing suit on the behalf of the family of a man who died while restrained face down in police custody.
Prior to entering civil litigation, Brenda served as a Special Victims Unit prosecutor where she litigated hundreds of child sexual and physical abuse, pornography, intimate partner violence, stalking, human trafficking, and homicide cases, in both state and federal courts. Brenda was known as a “bulldog” in the courtroom, taking cases to trial that others would not, and for her “hat-trick” performance where she achieved guilty verdicts in three consecutive jury trials in the span of two weeks. Outside of the courtroom, Brenda developed and conducted trainings on intimate partner violence for law enforcement, medical personnel, universities, and schools. Brenda also implemented district court domestic violence dockets, a model which was adopted by area judges and community stakeholders. In addition to her work on the community level, Brenda engaged in legislative advocacy, drafting bills for crime victims, and testifying before elected officials in legislative proceedings. Brenda’s dedication to survivors was recognized when she was the second prosecutor ever to be awarded the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association’s, Victoria F. Gelfman Legal Excellence Award.
Brenda’s devotion to victim advocacy began even prior to the start of her legal career. While a college student at the University of Pennsylvania, Brenda led community service projects at Head Start; established a fundraiser to protect female factory workers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico from gender-based violence; and helped underserved Philadelphia high schoolers garner internships and apply for college. Brenda also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied and wrote her thesis on the plight of mothers searching for their kidnapped and “disappeared” children during Argentina’s civil war.
After graduating college, and before going to law school, Brenda worked as a case manager providing crisis intervention to adult and juvenile survivors of physical and sexual abuse. During law school, Brenda was the elected President of the Women’s Law Association; represented political and gender-based asylum-seekers as a student-attorney on the International Human Right’s Law Clinic; and secured an internship where she provided immigration assistance to girls escaping forced marriages and honor killings in their countries of origin.
Brenda’s trauma-informed training enables her to sensitively guide and support her clients through the legal process and provides her clients with a sense of comfort when discussing personal and difficult topics.
Brenda enjoys spending time with her twin daughters, son, and husband; traveling; catching-up with her lifelong childhood friends; and running.
Languages: Fluent in Spanish.
Publications: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the Unresolved Legal Purgatory of Reproductive Rights, Trial Reporter Journal of the Maryland Association for Justice, Feb. 1, 2023
Memberships and Community Involvement
Brenda A. Harkavy
Attorney At Law
Toll Free: 1.800.535.1797