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Brenda R. Sharton, a veteran litigator with 23 years of experience, is a senior partner with Goodwin Procter LLP and serves as a member of the firm's Executive Committee. Ms. Sharton chairs Goodwin Procter’s Business Litigation Group as well as its Privacy & Data Security Practice.  She counsels and represents public and private corporations and their boards in complex business litigation and civil regulatory matters.  She has litigated in courts throughout the country, from Maine to California.  In addition to business litigation, Ms. Sharton is a nationally recognized expert in the area of privacy law and has handled numerous high-profile data privacy breach investigations and class action litigations.  She has been recognized for the past several years as a Boston magazine “Massachusetts Super Lawyer” recommended for her financial services litigation work by The Legal 500 United States and featured in U.S. News-Best Lawyers for her commercial litigation work. In 2012, Ms. Sharton received the Boston College Public Interest Law Foundation Curtin Award for Public Service, which recognized her pro bono work on behalf of rape victims for the Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC). She currently co-chairs the VRLC’s Board of Directors. Ms. Sharton lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and two teenaged sons.

Ms. Sharton has extensive experience in commercial and business litigation, internal investigations and civil regulatory matters, including those involving contract claims, false advertising claims, business torts, fiduciary duties, post-closing disputes, banking and trust claims, fraud, minority shareholder and partnership disputes, data privacy and security claims, all manner of claims related to financial services institutions, trade secret misappropriation and non-compete claims. She has successfully tried both bench and jury cases to conclusion in federal and state courts throughout the country, and has represented clients in the full range of ADR procedures. In addition to trial work, Ms. Sharton has handled investigations and civil enforcement actions brought by an alphabet soup of federal and state regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Trade Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Department of Labor, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Association of Securities Dealers, Office of Thrift Supervision, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Ms. Sharton’s representative cases include:

  • Successful resolution of a case in federal court in New York against a Fortune 100 public company client for breach of fiduciary and financial fraud claims following its acquisition of a financial institution and the infusion of $2 billion into that institution.
  • Represented of one of the country’s largest managed care companies in an Office of Civil Rights (HHS Division) investigation involving alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The settlement, at the time, was one of only 12 OCR settlements nationwide.
  • Dismissal of numerous claims, in federal district court in California, involving alleged violations of Los Angeles rent ordinances against multiple banks including Bank of America, BONY Mellon and HSBC. Ms. Sharton argued the motion to dismiss in federal court on behalf of all the bank defendants.
  • Summary judgment victory in the landmark Patco v. People’s United Bank case in federal district court in Maine, which involved an alleged breach of the bank’s online security system through keylogging malware. One of the first cases of its kind to be decided by an appellate court and named a “national case to watch” by the American Banker, the dispute was resolved after the First Circuit reversed in part and remanded the district court’s decision.
  • Outright win on summary judgment for a national advertising agency and its president in a case involving claims of trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract/fiduciary duty as well as the rights to a national advertising campaign utilized by a Fortune 50 company. The case, in federal district court in South Carolina and with damages claimed in excess of $100 million, was appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed summary judgment for the client.
  • Conducted arbitration involving trade secret and breach of acquisition agreement between two public companies related to the right to do business in 21 states.
  • Successful resolution of a claim for tens of millions of dollars, pending in federal district court in Michigan, for trade secrets/interference with an acquisition after successfully defeating an initial injunction motion.
  • Successful settlement of a trade secret case mid-jury trial after cross-examination of opposing party's CEO.
  • The successful resolution of civil claims related to the Bernard L. Madoff Securities fraud.
  • Representation of numerous public companies in connection with major data security breaches.
  • Internal investigation related to potential fraud allegations related to FDA certifications for private company.
  • Internal investigation for board of trustees for registered mutual funds related to alleged misconduct by advisor personnel in connection with trading timing.
  • Internal investigation involving a revenue recognition issue at the Japanese subsidiary of a public company.
  • Successful defense of a major mutual fund company in connection with SEC and FDIC investigations.
  • Successful negotiation and resolution of a consumer financial services class action case, pending in Ohio state court against a Fortune 50 company for more than 10 years.
  • Represented online video and media service providers in class action litigations filed nationwide challenging the alleged use of local shared objects, also known as “flash cookies.”
  • Prepared a complete privacy scheme and policy for employees, volunteers and collaborating parties of The One Fund, which was created to provide financial assistance to survivors and families of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. 

In the financial services area, Ms. Sharton has represented major financial institutions in litigation and regulatory matters, including Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Citigroup, Citizens, Countrywide, Edward Jones, Fifth Third, GE Capital, HSBC, IBT, Marsh & McLennan, People’s United Bank, Putnam and State Street, as well as numerous bankers' trade associations including the American Bankers Association and the Massachusetts Bankers Association.

Ms. Sharton has represented major corporations (including Hill Holliday, IPG, New Balance and Eastman Kodak), as well as start-ups, in disputes involving products ranging from computer operating system architecture to mailpost designs and hockey sticks and has handled all related claims including trade secret misappropriation and copyright, trademark and trade dress infringement.

Ms. Sharton was recently named one of the “Top Women of Law” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for 2014, and for the past six consecutive years, has been recognized  in Boston magazine as a “Massachusetts Super Lawyer” in the area of Business Litigation. Ms. Sharton also has been named in the Super Lawyers listing of the “Top 50 Female Lawyers in Massachusetts” and recommended for her financial services litigation and privacy and data security work by The Legal 500 United States (2012, 2013, 2014). She has been listed in U.S. News-Best Lawyers for her commercial litigation work. Ms. Sharton received the Boston College Public Interest Law Foundation Curtin Award for Public Service in 2012. In 2003, she received the Annual Shining Star Award from the Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) in Boston for her pro bono work on behalf of rape victims. In addition to her own pro bono work, she has supervised more than 25 Goodwin Procter attorneys who have donated more than 1,200 hours to the VRLC. While at Boston College Law School, Ms. Sharton served as an editor of the Boston College Law Review.

A former certified United States Professional Tennis Association (“USPTA”) professional, Ms. Sharton attended Rice University on a full tennis scholarship and participated in the 1984 Olympic team trials in women’s tennis.  She serves currently as the Legal Counsel for the New England section of the United States Tennis Association.

For several years Ms. Sharton was an adjunct professor of law at Boston College Law School. In addition to teaching a “Technology Litigation Practice” course, she also began teaching a “Cyberlaw Litigation” course in 2001, years before that topic became a standard area of legal study. She currently co-chairs the Board of Directors for the Victim Rights Law Center, a national organization that provides pro bono representation to victims of rape and sexual assault.


Ms. Sharton's recent presentations include:

  • “Data Privacy in North America,” Risk & Compliance (April/June 2014)
  • “Gaming Customer Privacy and Data Breach Crisis Management,” C5’s 3rd Annual Forum on US Gaming Law (2013)
  • “Telecommuting and BYOD: How Do You Keep the Information Secure,” 25th Annual General Counsel Conference (2013)
  • “Hot Topics in Privacy & Data Security,” Goodwin Procter Client Presentation (2013)
  • “The Risks of E-Mail Communications,” Goodwin Procter Client Presentation (2013)
  • “Social Media Hot Topics,” GC’s Roundtable’s Law School for the CFO (2013)
  • “Consumer Tracking and Class Action Lawsuits:  Are You at Risk?”  IAPP Privacy Academy (2012)
  • “Hot Topics in Privacy Law for Tech Companies,” for Goodwin Procter Technology Clients, Palo Alto, CA (2012)
  • Privacy Law Salon, Miami, FL (2011)
  • “Banks as Guarantors? Casting Blame for Cybercriminal Activity” IAPP Privacy Academy (2010)
  • “Hot Legal Issues Related to the Financial Services Meltdown,” CLE (2009)
  • “The Risks of E-Mail Communications,” an ABA webinar presented to 400 members of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association (2006; also for New York CLE presentations)
  • “The Attorney-Client Privilege in a Highly Regulated Environment,” New York CLE presentations (2005, 2006)
  • “Hot Topics in Financial Services: What To Do When the Regulators Call,” for the American Corporate Counsel Association (2005)
  • Massachusetts Bankers Association, et al. v. Bowler, Insurance Preemption Litigation: Paving the Way for Banks to Sell Insurance in Massachusetts,” for the Massachusetts Bankers Association (2003)

Ms. Sharton has written and been quoted in articles for numerous publications, including:

  • "Lawyers jockey for business as data breaches reach a head,” (quoted) Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (May 8, 2014)
  • “Technology Complicates Privacy Compliance,” chapter in Inside the Minds:  Privacy and Surveillance Legal Issues (January 2014)
  • “FTC Pursuing Incorrect U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Certifications in Privacy Policies,” Goodwin Procter Client Alert (December 5, 2013)
  • “Debate Escalates Over Mugshot-Removal Outfits (Interview with Ms. Sharton),” National Law Journal (October 2013)
  • “Massachusetts High Court Rules that ZIP Codes Are Personal Identification Information,” Goodwin Procter Client Alert (March 21, 2013)
  • “HHS Issues Long-Awaited Final HIPAA Omnibus Rule,” Goodwin Procter Client Alert (January 30, 2013)
  • “FTC Report Cautions Developers and Providers of Smartphone Apps for Children About the Necessity of Privacy Disclosures,” Goodwin Procter Client Alert (March 27, 2012)
  • "Parsing the Madoff Matter," Boston Business Journal (January 2009)
  • “The Risks of E-Mail Communication" ABA's Business Law Today (September/October 2007)
  • “How Do the New Rules on Electronic Discovery Affect You?,” Goodwin Procter's Financial Services Alert (December 2006)
  • “Dramatic Changes to Discovery Rules,” Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (April 2004)
  • “10 Ways Not to Get Sued on the Web,” Women’s Business (December 2001)
  • “Online Privacy Protection,” The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (October 2001)
  • “Privacy: The Next Frontier in Online Regulation?,” Boston Bar Journal (March 2001)
  • “Domain Name Disputes: To Sue or Not to Sue,” Boston Bar Journal (September 2000)
  • “What's in a ( Name?” Boston Business Journal (March 2000)