Brenda Joy (B.J.) Bernstein has worked for 25 years as a trial attorney handling criminal and civil litigation and appeal work. B.J. has been recognized in Atlanta Magazine in it's Super Lawyer edition from 2008-2012 as one of the top 100 Lawyers in Georgia and Top 50 Women Lawyers. B.J. Bernstein is one of the recommended attorney’s in Benchmark Appellate Litigation. The publication is a highly selective methodology to list premiere firms in Appellate Litigation. The Bernstein Firm is one of 11 recommended firms in Georgia and B.J. Bernstein is listed as an Appellate litigation star in this prestigious publication. Georgia Trend magazine named her to the Legal Elite list for the last 4 years and has individually profiled her as one of six of Georgia's "Power Women" in 2008.
B.J. was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. She is a 1987 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law with a J.D. and a B.A. in History from Emory University in 1984. She is unique in that she has tried well over 100 jury trials as a former prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer, and civil litigation both Plaintiff’s and Defense work. B.J. has had many cases in the Appellate Courts that have changed the law on various issues.
B.J. has received many prestigious awards connected to her commitment to justice. In 2009, BJ along with former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and NYU Law School's Brennan Center for Justice received the John Jay College Justice Award. Also in 2009, B.J. received the Y.W.C.A. Salute to Women of Achievement Award. In 2008, the SCLC-Women (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) awarded her on the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's Death with the Drum Major for Justice Award in the area of Criminal Justice. Also in 2008 she received the Professional Award for Public Service from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and received the Case of the Year Award from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She received the 2008 Advocate for Rights and Justice Award from the Phi Delta Phi chapter of the University of the District of Columbia, David Clarke School of Law. In 2007, the University of Georgia School of Law, her alma matter presented her with the law school's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award presented for dedication and service to the legal profession and the law school. Emory University School of Business and the Rollins School of Public Health presented B.J. with a Martin Luther King Service Day Award. Also in 2007, she received a Justice Award from the National Black Law Student Association and special recognition from the Gate City Bar Association.
B.J. has handled a number of high profile cases and provides commentary for the media on legal issues. She has appeared on CNN, CNN International, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC's Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America, CBS Early Show and NPR. Her own cases have also been in the media including the Douglas County teenager Genarlow Wilson; representing the young male Plaintiff’s in a lawsuit against Bishop Eddie Long; defended a shaken baby case in which her innocent client was acquitted that was televised on COURT TV (now TRU-TV); she represented a manager in the huge Federal Gold Club case in Atlanta; and she served in federal court as the Child Guardian for young teenage girls who were victims of prostitution in the first use of RICO laws to go after Child Prostitution Traffickers. She wrote the amicus brief on behalf of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense lawyers in the Case of Marcus Dixon ( who now plays for the New York Jets).
B.J. is involved in many community and legal organizations. She served in the past as a board member of KIPP Metro Atlanta Charter Schools, public charter schools in Atlanta serving low income minority students with creative education which produces academic results. She completed in 2009 the Leadership Atlanta Program. She is former Vice-President of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and served as co-Chair of the Amicus Committee. She is a member of the Atlanta Bar Association and serves currently on the committee evaluating judicial appointments, Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, Georgia Bar Association and the American Bar Association. She is a board member of the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee. She has held many leadership positions over the years including Chairman of the Atlanta Judicial Commission, Member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Georgia School of Law, former Chair of the UGA Younger Law Alumni Committee and former Secretary for the Atlanta Committee for CARE- the international relief organization.
B.J. speaks at a number of legal seminars on topics including Child Physical and Sexual Abuse, Juveniles and the Law, Mental Health issues in the law, Pleas and Negotiation, Handling the Media in High Profile Cases; Prosecutorial Misconduct and Ethical Issues with Law and Media. She is also a contributing author to the legal book Georgia Jurisprudence.