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Joy Ellis has 20 years of experience delivering practical employment-related advice, litigating labor and employment disputes, and advising independent schools.

Joy advises and represents employers. She operates with the core belief that it is possible – and in the employer’s best interest – to proactively address workplace challenges before they become problems or lawsuits. Joy works with employers in all aspects of their employment-related legal needs, from advising employers on reducing the risks associated with managing personnel; answering day-to-day questions about discipline, leave laws, accommodations, hiring and termination; to developing and updating employee handbooks; to investigating harassment and discrimination claims; to negotiating non-competition agreements, executive employment contracts, and severance agreements.

In addition to her advice practice, Joy is a litigator who defends employers. She has successfully handled BOLI and EOC complaints, and she regularly defends lawsuits in Oregon and Washington’s state and federal courts.

A unique segment of Joy’s practice involves advising and representing independent schools in virtually all aspects of their operations, including employment matters, educator misconduct,  risk management, student and employee handbooks, student discipline, civil rights, enrollment contract and admission issues, education records, and head of school contracts.

Joy is a frequent speaker on various employment and school law topics. She regularly conducts on-site training on preventing educator misconduct, preventing harassment and discrimination, and employer best practices for leave laws, wage and hour issues, hiring and firing, as well as discipline and documentation.

Professional Activities

  • Member, Oregon State Bar, 1995-present
  • Member, Multnomah Bar Association, 1995-present
  • Member, Multnomah Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section, 1995-present
  • Member, Multnomah Bar Association Litigation Section, 1995-present

Blog Posts

News & Insights

Speaking Engagements

Past Appearances



  • Oregon, 1995
  • Washington, 1996
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, 1996
  • U.S. District Court of Oregon, 1997
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, 1998


Lewis & Clark Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1995

Yale University, B.A., American Studies and Environmental Studies, magna cum laude, 1991

Honors | Recognitions

Named by peers to The Best Lawyers in America© in the areas of Labor & Employment Litigation, Employment Law - Management and Labor Law - Management, 2013-2020

Also has been listed by Martindale-Hubbell™ as a Peer-Rated Preeminent Lawyer in Labor & Employment, named in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers, and named by peers as a "Super Lawyer" in Oregon Super Lawyers magazine

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