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Meet Ken Harrell

I am the Managing Partner at Joye Law Firm. I joined the firm in 1994 after spending six years as an attorney with the state’s largest corporate defense firm. In 2006 I became the managing partner of Joye Law Firm. While my primary focus now is on the firm’s business operations, I also handle cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products and head up the firm’s referral practice. Joye Law Firm works in association with dozens of lawyers each year to ensure our clients receive the best possible representation. Often, these lawyers associate our firm to help them with larger, complex injury cases.

Awards & Recognition
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"From the moment I met Mr. Harrell and the wonderful people of the JLF, I knew I was going to be okay. I knew that they were going to help me, and make sure I was treated fairly, and respectfully."
-Alyson, Actual Client

What have you learned from your personal injury clients?

The most important lesson is listening to people. It’s important to give people space and let them know they’ve been heard. That’s a skill that the best lawyers have. You do a much better job when you understand what is really important to the client. Once people feel as though they’ve been heard, they are a lot more likely to take your advice. We are all in such a rush, going from one task to the next. But slowing down and taking the extra time on the front end of a case can end up saving a lot of time and headaches down the road.

Tell us a little about how you grew up, and how you ended up in South Carolina

I grew up in a blue-collar family. My dad worked for the post office for over 40 years. My mom was a secretary at the highway department. Growing up, I had some pretty interesting jobs. I worked at the sewer plant shoveling you-know-what. I cut the grass in the town cemetery. I had a job where I was sweeping the streets in my hometown. I always used to say, I’m going to be one of the guys who wears a tie to work. I grew up in the small town of Waverly, Virginia, just south of the James River. Eventually, I ended up in law school at William and Mary, which is just north of the James River in Williamsburg. My plan had been to come back to my hometown, hang out a shingle, and run for Congress. However, I met my wonderful wife Jeannie in law school. Jeannie grew up just outside of New York City and when she saw my hometown, she said, “sorry, but this is too small.” That’s how we ended up in Charleston and we both love it here.

Tell us about your practice

We have a lot of lawyers at Joye who are practicing at a high level that I admire. It’s what I aspired to when I was a young lawyer. They are doing some great work. My job is to essentially make sure that the train is on the right track, and that we have enough coal to keep the engine going.

I have a very, very small caseload now. I’d say 90% of what I do is to run the business. It has taken years to evolve to that point. Mark Joye and I were talking about what our goals were, and we both wanted to grow the firm around the state. At some point we knew we could do that, but one of us was actually going to have to focus on running the business. While we both enjoyed being trial lawyers, Mark really excels at it and it was a natural fit for me to be the business guy.

What is the most satisfying aspect of being a lawyer?

I see how much difference a lawyer can make when he knows what he is doing and truly has empathy for the people that he represents. That lawyer knows to put his clients’ interests first. You can make such a significant change in somebody’s life, particularly when people are going through what may be the worst experience of their lives, such as the loss of a family member or a serious injury. It’s very rewarding when you can obtain a result that significantly impacts the quality of their life.

Ken’s Background and Honors

Ken has been widely recognized for his legal skills. In 2020, Ken was named Charleston’s Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers for Personal Injury Litigation—Plaintiffs. In 2015, he was honored by Best Lawyers as the Lawyer of the Year for Workers’ Compensation Law – Claimants in Charleston.

Ken has been listed in South Carolina Super Lawyers for multiple years beginning in 2011. That organization named Ken a Top 25 Super Lawyer in 2017 and a Top 10 Super Lawyer in 2018.

Attys Jeff Gerardi, Matt Jackson and Ken Harrell at the Chicago Cubs game in honor of the late Atty. David Aylor.

Ken was presented with the Avvo Client’s Choice Award in 2019. He has received a 10.0 Avvo Rating since 2017. He has been honored as a member of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in South Carolina by the American Trial Lawyers Association.

Ken has served in multiple leadership roles with legal groups. He is a past president of Injured Workers Advocates. He has been the co-chairman of IWA’s Legislative Affairs Committee for over a decade now.

Ken received his law degree (JD) from the College of William & Mary and his undergraduate degree from James Madison University (BS). He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1988 and worked six years at a large corporate defense firm before joining Joye Law Firm in 1994. He was named the firm’s Managing Partner in 2006.

Ken and his family.

Ken and his wife Jeannie have shown a commitment to their community by contributing generously to charitable interests and educational institutions, including the Ashley Hall School, Wofford College, the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center and the Homeless to Hope Fund.  Ken is especially proud of his work in helping to establish a scholarship at the Citadel in memory of his beloved legal mentor, Richard Farrier.

Ken’s family means a lot to him. A Red Sox fan like his dad, Ken and his father accomplished a life-long dream by attending baseball games at all 30 major league baseball stadiums prior to his father’s death in 2013.

Ken and his grandkids at a Fireflies baseball game.

Ken has served as a pack leader for the Christ Our King Cub Scouts Pack 470 and coached Little League for various sports for the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department. Currently, he has served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Ashley Hall School, South Carolina’s top single-gender school, since 2020. His wife and he served as co-chairs of the school’s annual fund-raising campaign in 2014-2015, when it became the first private school in the Lowcountry to raise over $1 million in one year through its capital campaign. Ken is also a member of the Wofford College Parents’ Board. Ken received the Charleston Animal Society’s Community Ambassador Award in 2019.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America Since 2014
  • Best Lawyers – Charleston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer of the Year 2015 & 2021
  • Best Lawyers – Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year 2020
  • Listed in South Carolina Super Lawyers, Top 10, 2018
  • Listed in South Carolina Super Lawyers, Top 25, 2017
  • Listed in South Carolina Super Lawyers, 2011–2013, 2015 – 2024
  • Client’s Choice Award, Avvo, 2019
  • 10.0 Avvo Rating, 2017 – Present
  • Community Ambassador Award, Charleston Animal Society, 2019
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers for Personal Injury in Charleston
  • SMART Act – A Ray of Hope on Medicare Lien Issues , for South Carolina Lawyer Magazine, 2013
  • Quality of Life for Trial Lawyers – Are the “Seven Habits” Still Effective?, for South Carolina Trial Lawyer Bulletin, 2006
  • How Opt-Out Legislation Would Negatively Affect Employers, SC Self-Insurers Association Annual Conference, 2016
  • A Storm Cloud Brewing: Overview of Opt-Out Legislation Nationwide, Injured Workers Advocates Annual Conference, 2016
  • Five-Star Battle of Online Reviews, M&L Spring Conference, 2015
  • Ethics In Managing A Law Office, Injured Workers Advocates Spring Conference, 2015
  • Current Issues Facing Law Firm Leaders, 2015
  • Summary of South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Decisions , SCWCEA Annual Conference, 2014
  • A Guide to Communication with Healthcare Providers, 30th Annual Medical Seminar on Workers’ Compensation, 2009
  • Trying The Automobile Injury Case in South Carolina, 1998
  • Chairman of Legislative Affairs Committee, Injured Workers’ Advocates
  • Part-President, Injured Workers’ Advocates
  • Sustaining Member, South Carolina Association for Justice
  • Board Member, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Association
  • Member, American Association for Justice
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, South Carolina Bar Association Corporate Partner of the Year, Charleston Animal Society, 2009
  • James Madison University, B.S.
  • College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, J.D.
  • $2.3 million settlement for a young maintenance worker who had to have an arm amputated after getting it caught in a piece of industrial equipment.
  • $1.4 million settlement for an assembly line worker whose arm was crushed by a piece of defective equipment.
  • $850,000 settlement for a restaurant worker who sustained electrical shock injuries due to a defective coffee maker.
  • $465,000 workers’ compensation settlement for a construction worker who sustained head injuries due to a fall in a stairwell.
  • $250,000 workers’ compensation settlement for a truck driver who sustained a severe back injury.
Recent Case Study

When Mike Jenkins was traveling I-26, he had no idea that a piece of on oversized load would come crashing through his windshield at 55mph, crushing his skull. He had no idea that the 18-wheeler driver would flee the scene,…

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Latest Blog Post
By: Ken Harrell

If you’ve been injured on the job and qualify for workers’ compensation, your employer cannot force you to use your paid time off (PTO). However, they may permit — or even encourage — the use of PTO while you’re receiving…

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