About Jackie Gharapour Wernz

Legal Assistant: Mindy Irvin | T: 469-421-6618 | mirvin@thompsonhorton.com

Jackie attended public schools from kindergarten through law school, benefitting from the unique opportunities they offer. A first-generation American on one side of her family tree and an eighth-generation Texan on the other, she was attuned from an early age to the many constitutional and civil rights challenges schools, colleges, and universities face in educating students in an increasingly diverse world.

With over fifteen years of experience representing and regulating educational entities on a wide range of legal issues, Jackie helps schools, colleges, and universities across the U.S. with almost any Federal legal concern they face. But clients know her best for her passion and skill in helping them navigate complex and novel civil rights and constitutional issues—especially those involving Title IX and Title VI. From consulting and advising behind the scenes to conducting high-profile investigations and hearings, she is practical, innovative, and responsive, focused on understanding the client’s needs to effectively resolve issues.

As one K-12 Human Resources Director & Title IX Coordinator explained:

“I have learned so much from Jackie. I really appreciate her perspective. Especially because she understands the K12 environment and has a really common-sense approach to implementing the complicated and cumbersome Title IX and related regulations – which to a layperson is so helpful.”

A Director of Institutional Equity at a national university similarly described:

“Our institution relies on Jackie for her expertise because she sees and understands the big picture when it comes to risk in higher education law and she takes the time to understand the implications of issues for us on a local basis. Additionally, whether she is acting as outside counsel, an external investigator, or as a hearing decision-maker for us, she is always thoughtful and treats everyone involved with the utmost respect and professionalism.”

Jackie is the first call for many educational administrators, in-house lawyers, and local counsel seeking authoritative guidance on the changeable landscape of civil rights law, including Title IX, Title VI, Title VII, Section 504, the ADA, First Amendment speech and religion, and other civil rights and equity questions. Governing boards and school leaders rely on her to sensitively and credibly conduct high-profile investigations, including those involving significant institutional conflicts of interest and high-level officials as parties.

She advises schools, colleges, and universities on high-profile complaints of discrimination, harassment, hazing, bullying, and retaliation involving students, including under Title IX (sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy); Title VI (race, color, national origin, religion); and Section 504/Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (disability). Employers rely on her for similar guidance on matters involving employees, including under Title VII (race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, and national origin), the ADEA (age), and the ADA (disability).

Jackie conducts regulatory and compliance reviews and audits for institutions on sex discrimination and harassment, general civil rights compliance, and—calling on her experience as a former member of OCR’s Title IX athletics team—athletics equity and NCAA compliance matters.

Jackie is a sought-after national speaker, media commentator, and expert witness on Title IX and other civil rights, constitutional, and equity questions. Thousands of school, college, and university administrators and employees turn to her each year for engaging, customized training—both online and in-person—on regulatory and other legal compliance topics including sexual and racial discrimination and harassment, disability accommodations, student and employee speech rights, student data privacy, and DEI initiatives.

Jackie blends over a decade of experience as outside counsel to educational institutions with her service as a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights during the Obama and Trump administrations. Her clients benefit from the deep familiarity with the law, nuance in practice, and understanding of agency priorities and processes that come with government experience. But they also know she thoroughly understands the practical realities of their operations from working closely with school leaders in a wide range of circumstances, including in interim and other internal roles, when needed.

Jackie attended the University of Virginia School of Law. She was a recipient of the Dillard Scholarship, the Law School’s premier full merit scholarship, and a member of the editorial board for the Virginia Law Review. Jackie is a summa cum laude graduate of the Donaghey Scholars honors program at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. She attended college on a full merit scholarship, triple-majored in English Literature, History, and French, and studied abroad in France twice.

Jackie is licensed in the states of Illinois and Texas.* She lives in Dallas with her husband, children, and two vizsla dogs.


Licensing & Court Admissions

* Jackie is admitted to practice law only in the states listed

Memberships & Recognitions

Selected Client Representations

Thompson & Horton Webinars

Representative Publications

Representative Speeches & Presentations

Representative Media Commentary