Joan Heishman Proper

Rated By Super Lawyers | Joan H. Proper | 5 Years


Manassas, VA





Rated By Super Lawyers | Joan H. Proper | 5 Years

Joan Heishman Proper represents clients in education, family and juvenile law matters through legal advocacy, dispute resolution mechanisms and litigation.

Prior to law school, Ms. Proper was a teacher for nine years, first in the Diocese of Arlington and then in Fairfax County Public Schools. While she was a general education teacher, she taught students with a wide variety of special education needs.

In addition to her other areas of practice, Ms. Proper is also certified as a Guardian ad litem for children and incapacitated adults in guardianship, conservatorship and family law matters.

Areas Of Practice

  • Special Education Law (Infant and Toddler through High School)
  • Education Law matters in the public school system (PK-12)
  • Student Discipline in the public school system (PK-12)
  • Guardianship & Conservatorship
  • Family Law
  • Uncontested and Contested Divorce
  • Negotiation and drafting of Separation Agreements

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia, 2007
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 2009


  • George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, Virginia
    • J.D. - 2007
    • Honors: cum laude
  • Virginia Tech
    • B.A. - 1994
    • Major: Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • University of Virginia
    • M.Ed. - 2002
    • Major: School Administration and Supervision


  • School Law: Key Laws to Know and Evaluation and Identification of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder; National Business Institute; 2023
  • A Survey of the Issues in Education Law that all Attorneys Need to Know, Virginia CLE, 2017
  • Special Education Considerations in Custody Cases, Alexandria Bar Association CLE, 2021
  • Meaningfully Advocating for Special Education Needs, Prince William Foster Parent Training, 2020
  • Advocacy for Special Education Needs, The Child Protection Partnership, Prince William Area, 2019
  • 504 Plan Eligibility & Accommodations; and Bullying and Harassment: Ensuring Special Needs Students Receive FAPE, National Business Institute, 2019
  • Discipline and Expulsion, A Practical Legal Guide, National Business Institute, 2019
  • How the 504 Plan Process Works and 504 Plan Eligibility, National Business Institute, 2018
  • The ABC's of IEPs, Arc of Loudoun, 2016
  • The ABC's of IEPs, Arc of Prince William, 2015
  • Guardianship, Conservatorship and Less Restrictive Alternatives, Arc of Loudoun, 2014 and 2016
  • FAPE: Evaluations and Eligibility, National Business Institute, 2014 and 2015
  • Ethics in Special Education Law, National Business Institute, 2012

Honors And Awards

  • Virginia Super Lawyers, 2020-2024
  • Arlington Magazine, Top Attorneys, 2019-2023
  • Virginia Business Magazine, Legal Elite, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2023
  • Northern Virginia Magazine, Top Lawyer, 2015

Professional Associations And Memberships

  • Virginia State Bar, Member
  • Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Member
  • Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Member
  • Fairfax Bar Association, Member
  • Prince William County Bar Association, Member
  • Commission on the Needs of Children, The Virginia Bar Association, Member, 2020 to Present

Past Employment Positions

  • William B. Reichhardt & Associates, Associate
  • William B. Reichhardt & Associates , Law Clerk
  • Fairfax County Public Schools, Teacher
  • Diocese of Arlington, Teacher

Pro Bono Activities

  • Arc of Greater Prince William, Volunteer
  • Prince William Bar, So You're 18 Program
  • Arc of Loudoun, Volunteer
  • Wills for Heroes Program - Culpeper

Practice Areas

Do You Need A Lawyer Who Understands How To Resolve Family Issues?