Joan Heishman Proper



Manassas, VA





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
  • University of Virginia
    • M.Ed. - 2002
    • Major: School Administration and Supervision
  • Virginia Tech
    • B.A. - 1994
    • Major: Liberal Arts and Sciences


  • 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
  • A Survey of the Issues in Education Law that all Attorneys Need to Know, Virginia CLE, 2017
  • 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
  • Arlington Magazine, Top Attorneys
  • Virginia Business Magazine, Legal Elite, 2012, 2013, 2017
  • 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?