A native of Abbeville, Georgia, Joel served as State President and National Vice President for the National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America) during high school and college. During his time at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton, Joel was elected Freshmen Class President and selected by Secretary of State Cathy Cox to serve on her student advisory council. While earning his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Georgia, Joel served as a student ambassador and a public policy intern in Washington, D.C. He is the former State Winner and National Finalist for the Georgia and American Farm Bureau Young Farmer Discussion Meet Contest.
Joel currently serves as the president-elect and chairman of the governance committee for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association Committee. He is a member of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean's Advisory Council. Joel is active in the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a lifetime member of the National FFA Alumni Association, a member of the American Agricultural Law Association, and a member of the Agriculture Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association. He and his wife are members of Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur, Georgia.
In August 2010, Georgia Trend listed him as one of the Movers and Shakers in the Agribusiness Industry. The list featured various individuals who are helping to “boost farm productivity, increase crop exports, encourage organic farming or set public policy.” He has twice been named a Rising Star by James Magazine for his work on behalf of clients before the Georgia General Assembly and the Georgia Public Service Commission. In September 2011, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association awarded him the Young Alumni Achievement Award.
In September 2008, Governor Perdue appointed Joel to serve as a member of the Agricultural Education Advisory Commission. Governor Perdue reappointed Joel to this post for a two year term in January 2009. Joel is a 2010 graduate of the Republican Leadership for Georgia, a successor organization to the Coverdell Leadership Institute (CLI). In 2009, he was asked and agreed to serve on then-Congressman Nathan Deal’s Fulton County Steering Committee for his 2010 campaign for Governor. Also in 2010, Joel served as the 5th Congressional District Chairman for Gary Black’s campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. In 2011, Joel served on the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness task force for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Joel also previously served as the campaign treasurer for Sen. John K. Wilkinson 2010 campaign for Agriculture Commissioner.
Joel is the group leader for the HBS Agriculture Practice Group. Our agriculture practice group represents farmers and agribusinesses on such matters as seed and product warranty disputes, livestock damage cases, premise liability suits, farm partitions, foreign object in food claims, and contract disputes. In addition to representing farmers, Joel has represented farm supply companies, transporters of agricultural products, produce distributors and processors, poultry processors, and pecan brokers. Joel is well-versed on Georgia Right to Farm law and the various state statutes that protect landowners in premise liability actions which arise out of the use of farm and ranch property for recreational and agritourism purposes. Experienced in contract litigation, Joel helps clients draft, negotiate, and litigate various contracts that impact their property rights, including farm leases. The agriculture attorneys at HBS also handle appeals of Farm Service Agency (FSA) Payment determinations, prosecute and defend crop insurance claims, and assist with farm estate planning. Joel's background, knowledge and understanding of agronomic principles, commodity markets, and overall industry practices assists in providing a positive outcome for HBS's clients in a more efficient manner.
Joel has experience representing contractors, subcontractors, developers, and insurance companies in various construction design and defect, delay, change orders and extra work, systems engineering, contract compliance, insurance coverage, personal injury, and property damage matters. Experienced with Miller Act claims and other payment and performance bond issues, Joel has represented clients in complex disputes regarding ambiguities in contract documents, change order scopes, and other issues that often generate payment disputes.
A significant portion of Joel's practice involves the representation of energy and telecommunication clients before the Georgia Public Service Commissions. He regularly provides transactional and regulatory compliance counsel to energy and telecommunication clients who are drafting tariffs, customer terms and conditions, and other end-user contracts. Experienced with Georgia state administrative agencies, Joel has worked with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on air and water permitting compliance and Georgia Ethics Commission on campaign and lobbyist disclosure requirements.
As a civil litigator, Joel has successfully handled many general liability claims. He has litigation experience involving premise liability and slip and fall cases, construction and commercial contract disputes, motor vehicle accidents, foreclosure actions, farm land partitions, and professional negligence suits.
Joel represents trade associations and corporate entities before the Georgia General Assembly by assisting in the accomplishment of their legislative agendas. For clients, Joel tracks and reviews legislation, drafts amendments and substitutes to bills when necessary, and interacts with legislative leaders in furtherance of client objectives. Joel has experience representing real estate, education, and energy interests before the Georgia General Assembly. Joel has drafted by-laws and assisted in the formation of several political action committees.