Joan Grafstein

Joan C. Grafstein, Esq., FCIArb

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

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, 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 2015-2017 Editions, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Vice President of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Bar Association, the Academy of Court Appointed Masters, 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, writing an article that appeared in Law360 in January 2015 on appealing arbitration awards through the optional appeals processes of provider organizations, and chairing and speaking on panels on cost effective commercial arbitration, arbitration in China, women in negotiation and dispute resolution, 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 arbitrations under JAMS, AAA, FINRA, and party-specific rules
  • As university in-house counsel, has extensive experience managing litigation and mediation especially in employment, business, construction, insurance, software, faculty tenure, and copyright disputes
  • Has served as court appointed special master and adjudicator in product liability and class action settlement matters 

Representative Arbitrations


  • Chair of arbitration panel deciding claims and counterclaims of contract breach by two businesses in food processing industry
  • Professional partnership dispute over claims of breach of partnership agreement and fiduciary duty
  • Claimed contract breaches brought by club members against resort
  • Numerous breach of contract claims and counterclaims by one business against another, including claims that threaten the existence of one party
  • Claims by and against financial institutions over credit, debt collection, and consumer protection statutes 

Employment and ERISA

  • Claims by over 2,000 firefighters seeking class action status and pay for alleged breach of contract and for quantum meruit 
  • FLSA claim in financial industry that employee was misclassified as exempt from overtime
  • FLSA claim in entertainment industry that employee was misclassified as independent contractor
  • Breach of contract claim by employer seeking liquidated damages against employee
  • ERISA claim against employer for denial of medical benefits on grounds of pre-existing condition 
  • ERISA claim for denial of medical benefits on grounds of unlawful act exclusion 
  • Numerous employment claims alleging breach of contract and discrimination (race, gender, disability, age) brought by terminated employees


  • Financial dispute between physician provider network (IPA) and health plan (HMO) including claims and counterclaims of breach of contract
  • Breach of contract claim over severance benefits by terminated CEO in healthcare field
  • Fraud and breach of contract claims and counterclaims between California investors in Florida nursing home and the fired manager of the nursing home
  • Claims against nursing homes for death of patient and negligence causing harm to patient
  • Dispute over asset purchase and sale agreement in health field

Real Estate Development

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


  • Numerous arbitrations in FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and its predecessor NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) Dispute Resolution of a wide variety of customer claims, including fraud claims over mortgage-backed securities, and claims by brokers and dealers against their brokerage companies and counterclaims against brokers and dealers


  • Breach of fiduciary duty and theft of trade secrets claims against former officer and software developer
  • Dispute between software developer and national food company over custom software
  • Breach of contract claim by marketing firm against custom software development company over appointment system
  • Dispute between employer and employee in software industry over loan to employee for training
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS. 

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America in Arbitration, 2015-2022
  • 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


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