Joyce Tam-Sugiyama


Joyce W.Y. Tam-Sugiyama has a broad practice and represents a wide array of clients in commercial and business litigation, employment litigation, agency proceedings, permitting, environmental law, land use, and intellectual property.  She also has experience in advising clients in conducting internal investigations and responding to federal grand jury subpoenas.

Before becoming an attorney, Joyce was a civilian chemical engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division of the U.S. Navy. Leveraging her engineering background, she regularly advises clients on technical and other regulatory issues involving state and federal environmental and land use laws.  She brings a diverse background that enables her to advise clients on nearly every aspect of a complex development project, from environmental due diligence, to permitting and compliance, to enforcement actions and litigation.

Joyce also has a breadth of intellectual property experience and has represented various different types of clients ranging from entrepreneurs and small businesses to large Fortune 500 corporations to identify and protect copyright, trademark, and patent assets.  She has intellectual property experience in a variety of technologies including renewable energy, oil exploration technology, and pharmaceuticals.

Joyce began her legal career at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in New York, where she frequently took on large-scale “bet-the-company” litigation and was part of a trial team that successfully obtained a jury award of over $105 million. Prior to joining Watanabe Ing, Joyce was a partner and co-chair of the Environmental Practice Group at Carlsmith Ball LLP.

  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. 2010
  • Senior Editor, Georgetown Journal of International Law
  • University of Pennsylvania, B.S., Engineering
  • Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
  • Materials Science & Engineering
Community Involvement
Notable Cases
  • Represented Mahi Pono, LLC in conducting environmental due diligence in connection with purchase of agricultural land in Maui
  • Represented Kamehameha Schools in negotiating a landmark agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an audit of over 3,000 properties to identify and close large capacity cesspools
  • Represented the University of Hawaiʻi in obtaining and defending a complex contested case involving a permit to build an observatory on Mauna Kea
  • Represented a landowner in successfully obtaining summary judgment and dismissal of a multi-million dollar animal trespass lawsuit
  • Represented large defense contractor in internal investigation and response to a federal grand jury subpoena