Joan L. Larsen is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She was nominated by the President on May 8, 2017 and confirmed by the Senate on November 1, 2017. Before her appointment to the federal bench, Judge Larsen served two terms as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, where she was the court’s liaison to Michigan’s drug, sobriety, mental health and veteran’s courts.
Before becoming a judge, Judge Larsen was a faculty member at the University of Michigan Law School, where she was also Special Counsel to the Dean and received the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching. Judge Larsen's research and teaching interests included constitutional law, criminal procedure, statutory interpretation, and presidential power. Judge Larsen continues to assist the law school as the adviser to the Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition.
Judge Larsen began her legal career as a law clerk to the Hon. David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and to Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States. Following her clerkships, she joined the law firm of Sidley Austin, where she was a member of the Constitutional, Criminal, and Civil Litigation Section. She later served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel.
Judge Larsen graduated first in her class from Northwestern University School of Law, where she served as articles editor of the Northwestern University Law Review and earned the John Paul Stevens Award for Academic Excellence. She received her B.A., with highest honors, from the University of Northern Iowa.