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 Grafstein, Esq. FCIArb, is a full time arbitrator, mediator, and special master who concentrates on business/commercial, class action, employment, healthcare, higher education, personal injury, 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, and chairing and speaking on panels on arbitration and mediation in China, cost effective commercial arbitration, women in negotiation and mediation, ethics in arbitration, and e-discovery in arbitration. 

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Mediator and arbitrator 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 mediation and litigation 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 Matters

Class Action

  • Sole arbitrator in two related claims for class action by over 2,000 firefighters seeking pay for breach of contract and quantum meruit

Discrimination Claims

  • Mediator in gender discrimination claim by demoted female executive against Fortune 100 company
  • Mediator in race discrimination employment lawsuit by long-term employee terminated by large public authority
  • Mediator in case brought against Fortune 100 company by employee terminated for substance abuse
  • Mediator and arbitrator in numerous cases brought by discharged employees claiming discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and breach of contract


  • Arbitrator in ERISA case against employer for denial of medical benefits on ground of pre-existing heart condition
  • Mediator in ERISA case against employer for denial of medical benefits on ground of unlawful act exclusion (DUI)


  • Arbitrated FLSA claim in financial industry that employee was misclassified as exempt from overtime
  • Arbitrated FLSA claim in entertainment industry that employee was misclassified as independent contractor


  • Mediator in lawsuit by medical school faculty member against school and hospital
  • Arbitrator in breach of contract claim brought by CEO in healthcare field over severance benefits
  • Arbitrator in case by fired nursing home manager for breach of contract and counterclaims by investors for fraud

Higher Education

  • As university in-house counsel, negotiated and mediated cases involving faculty tenure denial, research ownership issues, claims of sexual harassment, discrimination (race, gender, age, disability, national origin), “reverse” race discrimination, breach of contract, libel, tortious interference with contract, academic freedom, freedom of speech; staff (and related student) claims of discrimination (race, gender, age, religion, national origin, pregnancy), sexual harassment, whistleblower protection violations, OSHA claims, libel, invasion of privacy, FMLA claims, USERRA claims, disability discrimination including alleged discharge due to H.I.V. status, failure to make reasonable accommodations, and lack of mobility access

Securities Industry

  • Arbitration panel chair and panel member in cases by brokers and dealers against brokerage companies through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration process

Software Industry

  • Arbitrator in theft of trade secrets and breach of fiduciary duty case brought by specialized software company against former officer and software developer
  • Arbitrated claim of breach of contract by employer against employee who resigned early where employer sought liquidated damages for repayment of 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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