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Practice Areas



United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Honorable Wendell A. Miles


University of Cincinnati College of Law
Cincinnati, Ohio
J.D., cum laude, 1985
University of Cincinnati Law Review,
Lead Articles Editor,
Order of the Coif

Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana
Bachelor of Music, with distinction, 1982

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

All Michigan state courts

Banking Attorney

Joan is a member of the Financial Services Practice Team. She represents commercial and asset-based lenders (including banks) in documenting, negotiating and closing numerous commercial loan transactions, including working capital and formula-based loans; real estate acquisition and development loans; and leveraged buyout financing.

Joan also represents lenders in connection with borrower insolvencies, loan restructurings and workouts; banks in various matters concerning regulatory compliance issues; and various corporate and commercial clients regarding general commercial matters.

Honors and Recognitions

Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Banking and Finance Law, 2013

Best Lawyers in America®, Banking and Finance Law, since 2013

Best Lawyers in America®, Women in the Law Spring Business Edition, Banking and Finance Law, 2017

Grand Rapids Magazine, Top Lawyers, Banking & Financial Service Law, 2023

Martindale-Hubbell® Distinguished™ Peer Review Rated

Professional Affiliations

Federal Bar Association, Bankruptcy Law Section

Grand Rapids Bar Association

Ohio Bar Association

State Bar of Michigan, West Michigan Chapter

“Varnum, and especially Joan Schleef and her team, has done a great job for the bank and my team. The responsiveness is very good and the expertise is very strong. They understand our clients and work through issues internally and with the client in a very professional manner.”

Senior vice president, investment bank and financial services company

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