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When Cara L. O’Brien took ownership of the Law Office of Evan K. Thalenberg, she vowed to continue the firm’s reputation as a top advocate for Baltimore-area victims of lead paint-based poisoning.

The firm — now called O’Brien Law — has won $500 million in settlements for its clients, according to the firm’s website. O’Brien won more than $5 million for two clients alone.

The managing partner is former co-chair of the Women’s Caucus for the Maryland Association for Justice and serves on its board of directors. She serves on the board of the Society of Women Trial Lawyers, too.

The Baltimore native graduated from Loyola University Maryland and earned her juris doctor from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

What is one aspect of your profession you would like to change?
I would love to change the unfair misperception some people have of plaintiffs’ attorneys. I think that my colleagues and other organizations are doing a great job at this by holding ourselves to the highest professional standards and obtaining true justice for our clients.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I started college as a math major but switched to economics; however, after having my own children and working with my clients as an attorney for the past 14 years, if I were not an attorney I would love to be in early childhood education or in prenatal or postnatal care so I could help other children and mothers.