attorney joyce Merritt picture

Founding Member


As a founding member of EMWN, Joyce has extensive experience in administrative/regulatory law and complex litigation in the areas of healthcare, Medicaid, ERISA, OSHA, and torts. She represents clients in the managed care, insurance, healthcare, and construction sectors. Joyce has handled hundreds of administrative appeals in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services through appeal of administrative actions to the Kentucky Supreme Court. She also represents employers in hearings before the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Administration and in other key matters involving worksite accidents and fatalities.

Joyce is an experienced litigator and has managed litigation effectively and efficiently for individuals and Fortune 100 and 500 companies. She won the pivotal Kentucky Supreme Court decision on the issue of standing in the courts of the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Supreme Court adopted the federal test for standing set forth in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992) holding that the existence of standing is a constitutional requirement to prosecute any action in the courts of the Commonwealth, including seeking judicial review of an administrative agency’s final order.

In addition to her active litigation practice, Joyce handles contracting, consulting, compliance and transactional work for the health industry, provider disputes, and Medicaid regulatory review and analysis. Joyce works with her clients to protect their intellectual property through trademark applications, oppositions, and litigation, if necessary.

Joyce has extensive administrative/regulatory law experience in her defense of companies in administrative hearings, but also in her capacity as a hearing officer for the University of Louisville in employee matters including Title IX hearings. In addition, she is the hearing officer for local school boards regarding classified employee discipline.  Joyce spent over a decade as a hearing officer for the Kentucky Retirement Systems. Joyce is well-versed in KRS Chapter 13B hearings. She is a former Vice President of the Kentucky Association of Administrative Adjudicators and has been asked to speak at the annual KRS 13B trainings on administative law issues. 

In addition to her civil litigation practice, Joyce served as one of a select group of attorneys appointed to the Criminal Justice Act panel for the Eastern District of KY from 1998 to 2020. She continues to defend individuals and corporations in all types of federal criminal cases including complex cases from the trial level through all levels of appeal. 

Prior to becoming a founding member of Embry Merritt Womack Nance, PLLC, Joyce was an attorney with the firms of Deatherage, Myers & Self (Hopkinsville) and Stumbo, Bowling & Barber (Lexington-Middlesboro). She opened her own practice in 1998 and maintained a solo practice for 13 years prior to the founding of EMWN.


Contact Joyce

top 25 women in Kentucky super lawyers badge for joyce Merritttop 50 in Kentucky super lawyers badge

Bar Admissions

United States Supreme Court
Commonwealth of Kentucky
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky

Super Lawyers

Selected for inclusion in the Kentucky Super Lawyers list for years 2014 – 2024 in the area of administrative law
Super Lawyers Top 50 in Kentucky, 2021
Super Lawyers Top 50 in Kentucky, 2021
Super Lawyers Top 25 Women in Kentucky, 2021
Super Lawyers Top 25 Women in Kentucky, 2022

Education and Achievements

J.D., University of Kentucky, 1994
B.A., Marshall University, 1991
Notes Editor, Journal of Natural Resources & Environmental Law
American Jurisprudence Award – Constitutional Law II
Lincoln Douglas Debate Nationals Semi-Finalist, 1991

Memberships (Past & Current)

Kentucky Bar Association
American Bar Association
Fayette County Bar Association
Kentucky Justice Association
National Association of Trial Attorneys
National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary
National Association of Hearing Officials
Kentucky Association of Administrative Adjudicators