Counsel at Relman, Dane & Colfax
Sara Pratt is Counsel at Relman, Dane & Colfax. Sara joined the firm in 2015 after her retirement from the federal government. Her civil rights litigation practice focuses on challenges to institutional barriers to access to housing, lending, and insurance, and to policies and practices that perpetuate segregation based on race, national origin, and disability, under federal civil rights laws.
At the firm, Sara has represented fair housing organizations and individual clients in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for suspending implementation of a rule that increases access to rental housing for Section 8 voucher holders. She has developed and negotiated settlements in cases involving lending discrimination, redlining, housing accessibility, and rental discrimination. Her current cases include redlining and maternity leave cases against lenders, a landlord criminal background case, and others. . She also has served as an expert witness and speaker on fair housing and civil rights issues.
Prior to joining the firm, Sara was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing Enforcement and Programs and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary at HUD. She directed HUD’s national civil rights enforcement efforts and led the development of regulations and policy guidance on numerous emerging civil rights issues, including the application of the Fair Housing Act to domestic violence in housing, criminal background criteria for housing, accessibility, the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. She helped develop HUD’s final rules on harassment, discriminatory effects, affirmatively furthering fair housing, and the housing-for-older-persons exemption for familial status discrimination. She also led the negotiations for HUD that resulted in the settlements of HUD v. Associated Bank, the agency’s largest lending redlining settlement, FairShare et al. v. State of New Jersey, the nation’s largest fair housing settlement, and HUD v. Wells Fargo, the largest maternity leave lending case settlement.
Sara has received numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from former HUD Secretary Julian Castro for Excellence in Performance for leading a team to address maternity and paternity leave discrimination by lenders, a special commendation from the U.S. Department of Justice for outstanding performance and invaluable assistance in the work of the Civil Rights Division, the 2015 Texas Housers Award, and the Mildred and Richard Loving Award from the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. She is a founding member and Secretary of the Board of All Our Kids, Inc., a District of Columbia-based nonprofit that builds community and support for young persons to help them unleash their own potential, and chair of the parish council at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, a historically black church rooted in downtown Washington D.C.