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Cary Hansel

Handel Law

Cary Hansel decided to become a civil rights attorney on a walk home from school with a friend. 

He was 12 years old and he noticed that parents in the neighborhood kept peeking out of their windows to watch the two walking to school. He asked his friend, Bo, why, and learned that none of the other white children would walk through the neighborhood. 

“I am embarrassed to say that I had to ask why,” Hansel recalled. “This young Black child was burdened with explaining racism to me. I felt obliged to do what I could, so I became a civil rights lawyer.” 

Hansel’s notable cases include winning a groundbreaking Prince George’s County police abuse case that established citizens can hold municipalities liable for engaging in a “pattern and practice,” of violating constitutional rights under the Maryland constitutions. He also represented more than 100 vulnerable women in Baltimore Public Housing in a sexual harassment case where they were forced to trade sex for necessities like heat and electricity. 

Hansel identified the risk of being coopted as a tool for the powerful instead of a force for justice as the biggest challenge facing the legal profession today. 

“As the wealth gap grows and money is permitted an ever-increasing influence in politics, we have become the last bulwark against those that would run roughshod over the individual and her rights,” Hansel said. “Our greatest challenge is to stay the course of justice, even in the face of power.” 

Hansel earned his Juris Doctor from George Washington University Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University.