Brittany K. Barnett (formerly Byrd) is a #cut50 Fellow, attorney and criminal justice reform advocate. As the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother, Brittany knows first-hand that the impact of mass incarceration is far reaching and devastates families and entire communities.
While working as a corporate attorney, Brittany showed a steadfast commitment to pro bono representation of clients in federal prison. She was personally responsible for obtaining freedom through the federal courts for several clients who had served decades in federal prison as nonviolent drug offenders. Brittany’s dedication to this life changing work paid off tremendously – resulting in executive clemency from President Barack Obama for seven of her clients, including the nationally reported case of Sharanda Jones, who served 16 years of a life without parole sentence as a first-time nonviolent drug offender. Brittany is also founder of Girls Embracing Mothers, a non-profit in Texas dedicated to empowering girls with mothers in prison.
Brittany has been named one America’s most Outstanding Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division; Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas by the Texas Young Lawyers Association; and Outstanding Young Lawyer of Dallas by the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers – all for her professionalism, commitment to serving the community and dedication to helping others through her pro bono work.
Brittany currently serves as #cut50 Fellow & Practitioner-in-Residence at Southern Methodist University’s newly launched Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center. Her focus areas include challenging extreme sentencing as it relates to the “war on drugs” and addressing the impact of the criminal justice system on women and children. Prior to becoming a #cut50 Fellow, Brittany served as Campaign Director and led the organization’s #clemencyNOW initiative supporting President Obama’s monumental use of executive clemency. Before following her passion for criminal justice reform, she was Associate General Counsel at ORIX USA Corporation focusing on mergers and acquisitions and general corporate matters. Brittany is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Prior to her legal career, she worked for an accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, and earned her license as a Certified Public Accountant. Brittany also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Accounting.