Joseph W. Mead
Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Mead researches the law of civil society, with a focus on volunteerism, free speech, and policy issues faced by small to medium-sized charities. He is also interested in the legal rights of the poor, particularly in the context of criminalization of the homelessness. His work has directly influenced policy at the federal and local levels. He currently serves as a contributing editor of the Nonprofit Law Professor Blog.
Mead serves on the board of directors and regularly volunteers as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, working on issues around the constitutional rights of protesters, the homeless, and public employees. He previously worked for the United States Department of Justice.
Examines the role of charities in seeking aggressive enforcement of laws against their homeless clients, suggesting nonprofits do not necessarily serve as faithful representatives of their constituents.
Describes the legal and policy responses to the practice of landlords refusing to rent a unit to an otherwise-qualified tenant because the would-be tenant receives a housing voucher.
Examines unsettled questions raised by an individual who donates service to a nonprofit organization, of that volunteer’s status under tort and labor law. Cryptic legislative language and inconsistent judicial precedent undermine predictability for volunteers and nonprofit managers alike, and the standards fail to reflect a coherent balance between the legitimate expectations of altruistic workers and the realities of the nonprofit-volunteer relationship.
Nonprofit board members are required to comply with fiduciary duties. This piece describes the state of the law and points out areas for reform.
Argues that speech seeking a donation is entitled to full First Amendment protection, whether conducted by an individual or an organization. Thus, most anti-panhandling laws are an unconstitutional violation of the right to free speech.
A person unhappy with a decision of a federal agency can often challenge that decision in court. However, it is often unclear what court has jurisdiction to hear challenges to agency decisions. This piece explores the existing framework and argues that it should be simplified.