Submit a Case Submit Case Find a Neutral Search Neutral
Joan Grafstein

Joan C. Grafstein, Esq., FCIArb

Case Manager
Lauryn Hall
T: 404-566-2157
F: 404-588-0905
One Atlantic Center, 1201 West Peachtree, Suite 2650, Atlanta, GA 30309


Joan C. Grafstein, Esq., FCIArb, is a full time arbitrator, mediator, and special master who concentrates on business/commercial, class action, employment, entertainment, healthcare, higher education, real property, securities, and software development. She joined JAMS in 2003 after over twenty years as in-house counsel for large public and private research universities where she managed litigation and mediation and handled a wide variety of claims and business disputes.

Ms. Grafstein was selected as one of The Best Lawyers in America in Arbitration for the 2015-2020 Editions, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, was President (2018-2019) of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Bar Association, the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, and served as Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Georgia (2014) and Chair of the Women in the Profession Section of the Atlanta Bar Association (2009-10). She speaks and writes frequently on dispute resolution including authoring the chapter on Arbitration in Georgia Business Litigation, and chairing and speaking on panels on cost effective commercial arbitration, arbitration and mediation in China, women in negotiation and mediation, ethics in arbitration, and e-discovery in arbitration.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Arbitrator and mediator in hundreds of significant cases, including serving as chair, sole arbitrator, and panelist in business arbitrations under JAMS, AAA, and party-specific rules
  • As university in-house counsel, has extensive experience managing mediation and litigation, including employment, business, construction, and insurance disputes
  • Has served as court-appointed special master and adjudicator in product liability and court-implemented class action settlement matters

Representative Matters


  • Chair of arbitration panel deciding claims and counterclaims of contract breach by two businesses in food processing industry
  • Arbitrated professional partnership dispute
  • Arbitration panelist in arbitration of claimed contract breaches brought by club members against resort
  • Arbitrator in many business to business disputes involving breach of contract claims 
  • Arbitrated numerous claims by and against financial institutions over lending, credit, and collection disputes including claims by consumers of violations of federal and state statutes

Employment and ERISA

  • Arbitrated FLSA claim in financial services industry that employee was misclassified as exempt from overtime
  • Arbitrated FLSA claim in entertainment industry that employee was misclassified as independent contractor
  • Arbitrated breach of contract claim by employer seeking liquidated damages against employee
  • Sole arbitrator in two related claims seeking class action status by over 2,000 firefighters claiming pay for breach of contract and quantum meruit
  • Mediated gender discrimination claim by demoted female executive against Fortune 100 company
  • Mediated ERISA case against employer for denial of medical benefits on ground of unlawful act exclusion
  • Mediated race discrimination employment claim against large public authority
  • Mediated disability discrimination and breach of contract claim against Fortune 500 company by employee fired for substance abuse
  • Arbitrated ERISA case against employer for denial of medical benefits on grounds of pre-existing heart condition  
  • Mediated numerous discrimination cases and breach of contract disputes brought by dismissed employees
  • Arbitrated multiple breach of contract and discrimination cases brought by terminated employees 
  • Mediated dispute between former employee and music company
  • Mediated financial dispute between parties in the entertainment sector
  • Arbitrated employment dispute under FLSA in the adult entertainment industry


  • Arbitrated contract dispute between health plan (HMO) and physician provider network (IPA) over deficits and surpluses
  • Mediated lawsuit by medical school faculty member against school and hospital
  • Arbitrated fraud and breach of contract claims and counterclaims between California investors in Florida nursing home and the fired manager of the nursing home
  • Arbitrated claim brought by terminated CEO in healthcare field over severance benefits
  • Arbitrated cases against nursing homes over death of patient and over claimed professional negligence resulting in harm to patient
  • Arbitrator in dispute over asset purchase and sale agreement in health field
  • Arbitrated a claim of medical malpractice against a surgeon in the performance of gastric bypass
Higher Education
  • Mediated contract dispute between former college administrator and the college
  • Mediated dispute between faculty member and a college
  • Arbitrated dispute between faculty union member and a university

Personal Injury

  • Mediated catastrophic injury caused by truck collision

Real Estate

  • Arbitrated breach of contract claim by land auction company against developer in North Carolina


  • Arbitrated numerous disputes in FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and its predecessor NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) Dispute Resolution, as chair of panel, panel member, and sole arbitrator, including claims brought by customers over mortgage-backed securities, and claims between brokers and dealers who are FINRA members and their brokerage firms

Software Development

  • Arbitrated contract dispute between marketing company and custom software development company
  • Arbitrated claims of breach of fiduciary duty and theft of trade secrets against former officer and software developer
  • Arbitrator in dispute between software developer and national food company over custom software
  • Mediated dispute between software developer and customer over custom software for social media and website development
  • Arbitrated contact dispute in software industry where employer sought repayment of loan for training of employee
  • Mediated contract dispute over software for medical imaging

Special Master/Adjudicator/Court-Annexed Mediation

  • Adjudicated hundreds of claims in court administered settlement of racial discrimination class action claims against federal agency
  • As Special Master ruled on product liability claim in class action settlement
  • In court pro bono programs, mediated numerous civil disputes and applications for criminal warrants 
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America in Arbitration, 2015-2020
  • Chair 2014, Dispute Resolution Section, State Bar of Georgia
  • Member at Large 2014-2015, Board of Directors, Atlanta Bar Association
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • President (2018-2019), Atlanta International Arbitration Society (ATLAS)
  • Member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals
  • Chair, Atlanta Bar Association Women in the Profession Section 2009-2010
  • Member, CIETAC Panel of Arbitrators
  • Beijing Arbitration Commission Panel of Arbitrators and Mediatiors
  • Program Co-Chair, American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution 2010-2012 Annual Conferences
  • Program Chair and Chair, 4th and 5th Annual Arbitration Institutes, State Bar of Georgia Dispute Resolution Section, August 2010 – 2011
  • Panelist, “E-Discovery in International and Domestic Arbitration,” 6th Annual Arbitration Institute, State Bar of Georgia Dispute Resolution Section and ICLE, August 2012
  • Member: FINRA Dispute Resolution Board of Arbitrators; American Bar Association Sections of Business Law, Employment Law, Dispute Resolution, and International Law; State Bar of Georgia Sections of Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property, and Labor & Employment Law
  • Registered Neutral, Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution
  • Publications include: "Yes, You Can Appeal An Arbitration Award," Law360, January 28, 2015 “Arbitration,” book chapter in Business Litigation in Georgia, 2014, 2015, and 2018 ed.; “Women in Negotiation.” The Atlanta Lawyer, January 2008; “Developments in Party-Appointed Arbitrator Cases,” Dispute Resolution News, Spring 2004; “Improving Commercial Arbitration: The View of an Arbitrator and Former In-House Counsel” LexisNexis, April 30, 2010.
  • Frequent speaker on arbitration and mediation topics at national conferences including Annual Section Meetings of the American Bar Association: panel chair and moderator, “Caseload Trends in China: A Look Into the Future of Asian Arbitration and Mediation,” (2012) ABA Dispute Section Annual Spring Meeting; panel chair and moderator, “Current Trends in International Arbitration” (2010) at ABA Mid-year Meeting; panel member, "Is Commercial Arbitration Broken" (2010) at ABA Business Law Section; panel co-chair, “The Evolving State of Arbitration in China: Can a Foreign Party Get a Fair Hearing and an Enforceable Award?” (2009) at Fall Meeting, ABA International Law Section; panel chair, “Women in Negotiation” (2008) and “Arbitration of Employment Disputes” (2006), Annual Meeting of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section; panel chair, ""Asia and Africa: Trends in the Developing East-South Dispute Resolution Axis," The Third Annual Conference of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society, November 2014; moderator, "Arbitration and Asia," The Second Annual Conference of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society; presenter, “Faculty Tenure Denials: Current Law and Practical Tips” (2004) at Mid-year Meeting, National Association of College and University Attorneys. Panelist, “Developments in Arbitration Ethics,” (2004) and “ADR in Institutional Settings” (2000) at Annual Georgia ADR Institute
  • In-house counsel, Emory University Office of the General Counsel, 1986 – 2003
  • Legal Advisor, University of Georgia, Division of Student Affairs 1981 – 1986
  • Associate, Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan, 1980 - 1981
  • Law Clerk to Judge James C. Hill, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1979 - 1980
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Law, 1988 - 1989; Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Georgia Criminal Justice Program, 1983 – 1986; Lecturer, Labor Law, University of Georgia School of Law, 1981 – 1982
  • J.D., summa cum laude, First In Class, University of Georgia School of Law, 1979 (Georgia Law Review, Articles Editor; Order Of The Coif; Castellow Scholar)
  • A.B., Government, Barnard College, Columbia University, 1968



Practice Areas

  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Construction Defect
  • Education/Schools
  • Employment
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Securities
  • Training/Teaching


Available nationwide


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More