Joan focuses in the defense of complex, multi-plaintiff personal injury actions for product manufacturers and health care service providers. She has represented clients in state and federal courts in more than two dozen states at all stages of litigation, including notching multiple successful civil jury trials and appellate decisions. With a background in mathematics and significant experience in mass tort litigation, Joan is highly regarded for her successful work with medical and technology experts to distill their analyses into opinions that are clear, concise, and helpful for clients, judges and juries.
Prior to joining McGuireWoods LLP in 2012, Joan practiced for six years in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices of an international law firm. While she now enjoys living in North Carolina, Joan maintains a California law license so that she can easily assist clients facing threatened or filed litigation in a state where many mass tort actions originate, and Joan has spent a significant portion of her time working out of the firm’s downtown Los Angeles office.
Joan champions various diversity initiatives within the firm and in the community. As a member of McGuireWoods’ firmwide Diversity & Inclusion Committee, she actively promotes the Firm’s commitment to recruit, develop, retain, and promote women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ attorneys, and veterans, ensuring the firm’s litigation teams fully represent the clients they serve and the communities in which they live.
A leader in community diversity and inclusion initiatives, Joan serves as the Raleigh-Durham coordinator for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) 1L Mentorship Program, recruiting volunteers to mentor diverse first-year law students at area law schools. In this role, she organizes events where mentors and mentees come together, share experiences, and hear from speakers. Joan also has served for three consecutive years on the planning committee for the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s annual Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Conference, which draws approximately 800 attendees.
Joan maintains a commitment to pro bono service and serves as the pro bono coordinator for the firm’s Raleigh office, helping organize clinics and connect other attorneys with projects of interest to them. She currently leads an initiative to help local small businesses challenge the denial of business interruption insurance coverage so that they can obtain funds intended to compensate them for losses, including payments made to hourly workers during closures and restrictions related to COVID-19. She also partners with North Carolina Legal Aid helping victims of domestic violence obtain orders of protection against their abusers.
- Lead counsel for major food and beverage distributor and retailer facing numerous multi-plaintiff lawsuits alleging serious illness and death caused by allegedly contaminated bottled alkaline water.
- Lead nationwide defense counsel for manufacturer and distributor of medical device in multi-state litigation alleging injuries caused by device used in gynecologic surgeries.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of automobile manufacturer in putative class action filed in California federal court alleging defective minivan parts.
- Represented major financial institution in successful defense of thousands of personal injury lawsuits New York federal district court arising out of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center collapse.
- Defeated motions for class certification on behalf of major food manufacturer in cases filed in California federal court challenging the use of “all natural” label claims.
- Achieved dismissal of California state-court litigation against major vaccine manufacturer alleging distribution of contaminated vaccines.
- Won numerous defense verdicts in jury trials for a leading academic medical center in complex medical negligence actions.
- Provide expert witness development assistance to medical device and consumer product manufacturers in high-exposure product liability litigation.
The University of North Carolina School of LawJD
with Honors, Comments Editor, North Carolina Law Review2006
- Rice UniversityBAMathematics2003
Member, American Bar Association
Member, North Carolina Bar Association; Women in the Profession Committee
- Presenter, "Video Depositions and 30(b) Depositions", 2021 Litigation Section Program, North Carolina Bar Association, May 19, 2021
- Speaker, "Depositions 2.0: Expert Deposition Tips", Internal CLE, May 11, 2021
- Speaker, Discovery Planning: Establishing a Strong Case Foundation in HIPAA Compliance, May 5, 2021
- Speaker, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Conference 2020, August 25-27, 2020
- Speaker, "Video Conference Depositions: Tips for Tackling a New Normal", North Carolina Bar Association CLE, May 28, 2020
- Speaker, McGuireWoods Sponsors Raleigh’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Conference, August 20, 2019
- Speaker, "Taking and Defending Depositions", CLE, February 23, 2018
- North Carolina
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
The rules of professional conduct in some jurisdictions require disclosure of selection methodology for certain public accolades and recognitions. Click here to view available selection methodologies.
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, Woodward/White, Inc., 2023, 2024
Selected for inclusion in “Legal 500 United States,” Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Actions – Automotive/Transport – Defense 2022; Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action – Defense: Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, 2022, 2023
Selected for inclusion into the North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society, 2020, 2021
Named to “North Carolina Rising Stars,” PI – Products: Defense, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2016
- Author, Considerations for Healthcare Entities and Employers After Roe v. Wade Reversal, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, July 8, 2022
- Contributing Author, “Chapter 10: Discovery Planning", Infectious Disease Litigation: Science, Law & Procedure, February 2021
- Author, "Why Posner Pounced On Eyedrop Class Certification", Law360, July 10, 2017
- Co-author, "2013’s Key Rulings In Food Mislabeling Litigation", Law360, January 7, 2014
- Co-author, "Where There’s Smoke, There’s Liability", The Resource, August 2013