Over 35 years of professional experience in all facets of dispute resolution.


Joan’s meticulous preparation combined with decades of experience chairing hundreds of hearings ensures an efficient and well managed arbitration process. Joan is adamant about respecting party autonomy. She applies the parties’ chosen rules while maintaining fairness and civility.

Joan has resolved a wide range of matters including large and complex commercial cases and emergency proceedings. Joan has broad subject matter expertise in all aspects of finance and trading and markets. Among the matters Joan has arbitrated are personal services and licensing contract disputes involving entertainment and sports figures, partnership dissolutions, and health care and employment disputes.


Joan has been mediating since 1994, and has established a reputation for resourcefulness, perseverance, and success. She is especially well known for her ability to manage emotionally charged matters. Joan is a process expert adapting her approach to the dynamics of each mediation. Her judgment and experience invariably come into play in the most challenging matters, providing her with the deftness and skill to maintain momentum and invariably reach resolution.

Joan has successfully resolved cases in a variety of subject matter areas including in the financial services industry where she has deep expertise. Joan is also experienced in entertainment, employment, health law, closely held partnership dissolutions, and commercial contract issues.

Training, Coaching, Mini Trials, Conflict Prevention

With her vast expertise in alternative dispute resolution, Joan possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to provide value in a variety of related areas within the ADR field.

She has personally designed and presented trainings in Negotiation Skills and Theory, Breaking Impasse, Gender Difference in Negotiation, Ethics in Negotiation, Persuasion Skills and Theory, and Mediation Advocacy. Joan is often asked to provide negotiation coaching and consult or sit on mini trials. A leader in the field of conflict prevention and deal facilitation, Joan possesses the enhanced skills necessary to serve in these cutting-edge areas of practice.

"Joan is tenacious in her efforts to resolve a dispute and also in her follow-up to assist in finalizing the settlement."

Attorney for Claimant

"I wanted to thank you once again for your hard work and dedication in assisting the parties in the above matter to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution. You made a great impression on both my clients, and we would have been unable to conclude the case so amicably without you."

Counsel for Respondent

"Thank you very much for all your hard work and effective assistance in resolving this matter. It would not have been accomplished without you."

Counsel for Claimant

"Joan Stearns Johnsen is very good, very patient, and very resourceful in encouraging and cajoling parties and their counsel to see the benefits of settling their cases. She is particularly effective in difficult cases (if they were easy they would not need mediators), and the impossible ones simply take a bit longer."

Counsel for Respondent

"Your reassuring presence provide both a rewarding and productive experience for both us...as well as our client. You helped make a potentially intimidating situation less daunting."

Counsel for Claimant

"Thank you again for your assistance in this matter. Without your help I do not believe a resolution would have been possible. I have told the other attorneys in the office that I would always use your for emotionally charged cases as you have a knack for calming nerves."

Counsel for Respondent