Human Resources and Law

Joy Fossel gives counsel

November 19, 2013
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Joy Fossel gives counsel
Joy Fossel.

Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.

Joy Fossel rightfully skews the image some have of attorneys eager to bill for as many hours as possible.

Pro bono service

She counts pro bono work as a true passion and considers herself fortunate to be part of a law firm where volunteer service is encouraged and valued.

Last year, she contributed more than 300 hours to pro bono cases.

Her efforts have caught the legal community’s eye. In 2010, she received the Michael S. Barnes Award from Legal Aid of Western Michigan in recognition of exemplary dedication to pro bono service. In 2011, the State Bar of Michigan presented her with the John W. Cummiskey Award, the state bar’s highest honor for pro bono service statewide. That same year, Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly recognized her as one of Michigan’s top 20 women attorneys.


Another passion for Fossel is the vital role she plays as chair of Varnum’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, which now accounts for 50 percent of her overall work for the firm.

Her work with this group involves leading the firm’s internal and external efforts to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the community, which has successfully culled a dynamic group of multi-racial professionals.

Her six months as a foreign exchange student in Florence, Italy, has also cultivated a lifelong passion for the European nation.

Fossel graduated magna cum laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing and earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. 

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