Joan Akalaonu counsels clients through all steps of complex commercial litigation in both federal and state court. She also advises and represents clients through government enforcement actions, internal investigations and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance matters.

Past Experience

Before joining Faegre Drinker, Joan was an associate at Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher & Flom, where she represented and advised clients in various commercial litigation matters, investigations and enforcement actions brought by government agencies, and internal investigations involving complaints and allegations of employee misconduct.

During law school, Joan externed with Judge Sanjay Tailor, associate judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division. She also externed at the Loyola Civitas Child Law Clinic, where she served as a child representative for family law cases in domestic relations court and represented a child victim in a federal criminal restitution case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Prior to law school, Joan, who has a Master’s in Social Work, worked for several years as a children’s social worker in Chicago and London, safeguarding young children and their families within their homes, through legal care proceedings and through foster care/adoption. Her time as a social worker in London also provided her with ample legal experience, including assisting attorneys throughout cases in legal proceedings, drafting position papers and providing testimony.

Personal Interests

Joan enjoys volunteering, both locally and internationally, and is committed to social justice initiatives. She regularly participates in 5k walks/runs with her mother to support various social causes. Joan is also an avid reader and theater enthusiast. During law school, she served as a catechist teacher for Catholic Confirmation candidates.


Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois


Loyola University Chicago School of Law
J.D. magna cum laude, Dean's List, Loyola Law Review Journal (junior editor), Children's Legal Rights Journal (senior editor) (2015)

University of Illinois at Chicago
M.S.W. in Mental Health, with honors (2009)

Yale University
B.A. in Psychology, with distinction, cum laude (2004)

Insights & Events

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

  • Represent a young female in asylum immigration proceedings
  • Represented children in guardianship proceedings
  • Assisted in drafting amicus brief on solitary confinement for MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Civic Activities

  • Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) — Board Member
  • Chicago Bar Foundation — Young Professionals Board Member
  • Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund — Mentor, Associates Board member
  • Mitchell Education Foundation — Board Member 

Firm Leadership

  • Diversity and Inclusion Committee


  • Best Lawyers® — "Ones to Watch," Commercial Litigation, 2021-24; "Ones to Watch," Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2023-24
  • Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2021, 2023
  • Faegre Baker Daniels — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2019
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