Joyce Gist Lewis (J.D. ’99) has spent the past two decades trying cases ranging from medical malpractice to wrongful death and everything in between. The one unifying theme across her career is being a trial attorney. It’s a natural fit for Lewis, whose training to perform in the courtroom began by studying theatre in undergrad.
An internship with the Alliance Theatre Company brought Lewis to Atlanta, but law school was always part of her plan. Deciding to stay in Atlanta, Lewis attended Georgia State College of Law and began practicing at the litigation firm Casey Gilson P.C. after graduation. She did a lot of work defending state entities, including representing troopers in excessive force cases and doctors at the Medical College of Georgia.
“Compared to most people my age, I got a lot of on my feet time early on,” Lewis said. “A lot of argument time, a lot of trial time – and I think that has benefited me.”
In 2012, Lewis started her own firm, Shingler Lewis LLC, with George Shingler, a partner from Casey Gilson. A lot of her work still revolved around representing governmental entities. This time, their biggest client was the FDIC. She worked to represent the government in holding accountable the officers and directors of community banks that were handing out FDIC insured funds during the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis.
“We tried the Buckhead Community Bank case in 2016, which was actually the first community bank case in the country that went to trial on this theory of upholding these directors and officers accountable for the 2008 financial crisis,” Lewis said. “And we won, we had a $5 million jury verdict in that case.”
Her theatre background gave Lewis an inherent ability to talk in front of people and stand on her feet, both required parts of litigation, but the appeal for Lewis goes far beyond that.
“I like telling stories and making a connection with people,” Lewis said. “I am able to give a voice to the people who might not be heard by themselves. I love explaining to a jury my client’s point of view and trying to get them to understand what’s at stake.”
Lewis is now a partner at Krevolin & Horst, LLC, where most recently much of their spotlighted work has involved election lawsuits in Georgia. Following the November 2020 election, the firm intervened as Georgia counsel in multiple cases filed against county boards and the Secretary of State, rebutting claims that the vote counts should be overturned.
The firm also did more boots-on-the-ground work, representing voting rights groups and the Democratic Party of Georgia in emergency litigation to ensure that voters who submitted provisional ballots could be contacted and assisted with curing their ballots so their votes could counted.
Lewis thrives on the opportunity to tackle new challenges that are guaranteed in her line of work, but credits Georgia State Law with the foundation to succeed in these environments. She says taking Advanced Evidence with Professor Paul Milich and participating in the Student Trial Lawyers Association and Moot Court all made an impact on becoming the attorney she is today.
“As trial attorney, you are called upon to articulate different viewpoints, and it might not be something that specifically resonates with you,” Lewis said. “You have to find the connection and the law that supports that particular result. Moot Court was huge with that, because having to argue both sides of complicated issues showed me that it makes a difference who the advocate is. It makes a difference how hard they’re going to work to tell your story.”
Written by Mara Thompson