Joan Meier is a Professor of Clinical Law and Director of the National Family Violence Law Center at George Washington University Law School. Joan has been a clinical law professor for over30 years at the George Washington University Law School, where she founded three pioneering and nationally recognized interdisciplinary domestic violence clinical programs. She has published widely on domestic violence, custody, clinical teaching and various Supreme Court decisions. Her major study of Child Custody Outcomes in Cases Involving Parental Alienation and Abuse Allegations, funded by the National Institute of Justice, was completed in 2019. In 2003, Joan launched the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide pro bono appeals in domestic violence cases. While at DV LEAP Joan filed eleven amicus briefs and three party briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court ; she also represented friends of the court and survivors of domestic violence in state court appeals all over the country and in the District of Columbia. DV LEAP and Joan have received several awards, including among others, the American Bar Association’s first ever “Sharon Corbitt Award for exceptional service and leadership in improving the legal response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and/or stalking;” and the “Outstanding Leadership” Award from Justice for Children in 2007.
In August 2019, Joan stepped away from DV LEAP and returned to GW Law full-time. She launched the National Family Violence Law Center at GW Law (NFVLC) in 2020 and serves as its Director. The NFVLC's mission is to bridge the domestic violence and child abuse fields, to support family court reforms through research, scholarship, policy development and professional trainings.
Joan is widely sought after by the press for comments on stories related to the legal system's handling of family violence, as well as explanations of her empirical findings about family court outcomes in such cases.
She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1980, cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School in 1983, and clerked on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2022, she received an endowed Chair as the National Family Violence Law Center Professor of Law; the endowed Chair ensures that the NFVLC will continue to exist past Joan's tenure.