Joan Howarth served as dean of the Michigan State University Law College from 2008-2016. Prior to her deanship, she was a professor here at the Boyd School of Law since 2001. She was named William S. Boyd Professor of Law in 2003 and was instrumental in building the law school, having served for four years as associate dean and helped to establish Boyd's early and strong national reputation.
She began her career as a law professor in 1989 after stints with California's Office of the State Public Defender and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. She has been a faculty member at the Golden Gate University School of Law and a visiting professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, and UC Davis School of Law.
Most recently she is teaching courses on Torts and Advanced Torts. Her scholarship focuses on attorney licensing; legal education; LGBT legal history; and capital punishment, especially as related to gender and sexuality.
She is a leader in legal education through work with the Association of American Law Schools, the American Bar Association, and the Society of American Law Teachers.