Meet HCBA Member Joy Reopelle Anderson

by Bethany Lenderink | Oct 28, 2019
Joy Reopelle Anderson thought she was going to be a newspaper reporter. She majored in journalism at the University of St. Thomas and spent three years working at a newspaper in Fargo in the early 2000s. “Even then you could see that the newspaper business was maybe not a growing industry. So I decided to do something else and I went to law school.” Anderson graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007 and has been a general litigator with Gray Plant Mooty ever since.

Anderson’s skills as a journalist have been beneficial to her practice. “As a journalist what you’re doing is gathering information, analyzing it, and putting it into a coherent story that people can read and understand.” As a litigator, Anderson says, those skills are transferrable. “I need to gather up all the information. I need to say exactly where all my information came from. I need to take it all in, digest it, and create a persuasive and cohesive, coherent story that the judge or other side is going to read and find convincing and understandable.”

Anderson has been putting those skills to use for the past 12 years. Currently she specializes in trusts and estates litigation, but she has seen and worked on a wide variety of cases in her practice. “I’ve done, really you name it in litigation, I’ve probably done it – I don’t work on criminal cases, but basically anything civil. It’s varied with the economy and what kind of work is available at that time.”

Since she started practicing, Anderson has also been an advocate for pro bono work. She’s volunteered with Volunteer Lawyers Network, the pro bono arm of the HCBA, and is currently the secretary for the board. In her role as secretary, Anderson also serves as the VLN representative to the HCBA board and uses that role to gain further understanding of the HCBA itself as well as to advocate for the VLN. “My role in being there is to keep reminding the HCBA to incorporate VLN as much as possible in their initiatives and everything that they do.”

Anderson sees her pro bono work with VLN as both exciting and rewarding. Her work in housing court and legal access point clinics give her the opportunity to promote access to justice and to expand her own skills in an environment where you can never know exactly what situations you’re going to experience. Even after volunteering for 12 years, Anderson says that every time she goes to a clinic shift, she encounters questions she’s never had before. “It’s a lot of triage, a lot of getting people to the next step. You’re not going to be able to solve their problems in the twenty minutes that you have with them, but you can refer them to a resource, tell them where they can file a complaint… You can have such a big impact on people in such a short amount of time and it helps you remember how privileged we are as attorneys to have all this knowledge.” 

Being involved in community organizations has been vital to Anderson’s practice. Some of those connections have been with the HCBA. “I think the great thing about the HCBA is that it can provide support and things that you need for your career at different times.” Anderson’s involvement with the HCBA has evolved with her career. Starting out, she networked and met people attending New Lawyers Section events. As she began honing her civil legal skills, she became more involved with the Civil Litigation Section. She hopes that being on the HCBA board will help her continue to network and to gain more understanding of what the bar can do.

Above all, Anderson stresses the importance of getting involved in whatever area appeals to you, whether that is attending section events with the HCBA or performing pro bono work with one of Minnesota’s many nonprofit organizations. “Just find what you’re interested in. Join a group that’s going to make you enthusiastic and interested. Find what you can be enthusiastic about because that’s how you will keep up your participation.”