Joyce Tam-Sugiyama
Name: Joyce Tam-Sugiyama
Firm Name: Watanabe Ing LLP
Jurisdiction: USA - Hawaii
Practice Area: Real Estate Law

Telephone: 808-544-8358
Fax: 808-544-8392

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Professional Biography:

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.

Practice Areas


  • Land Use and Environmental
  • Public Utilities


  • 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

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 Hawai’i 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



Watanabe Ing is a premier law firm that offers a comprehensive range of legal and consulting services. The diverse experience of our team of attorneys and advisors enables us to be involved in nearly every aspect of Hawaii’s legal, political, and economic landscape. We’ve successfully defended against high-stakes lawsuits, facilitated aspects of the largest planned urban development in Honolulu (trust us, it was huge), and advised clients on the latest changes in campaign finance laws.


Our story began in 1971 when a young group of local attorneys founded the law firm with simple idea-professional excellence, initiative, responsibility, and a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing our clients in Hawaii’s unique environment are essential to client success.

Over 45 years later the idea is the same, our team has grown, we have garnered local and national awards and distinctions, and we are one of the leading law firms in Hawaiʻi. This is the direct result of our continued response to an ever-changing landscape while expanding our areas of practice, and continuing our professional development.

While it’s been 45 years and counting, we still treat each matter like we’re young and it’s 1971.


A legal team with diverse experiences.

A number of our attorneys and advisors had diverse and successful careers in areas including government, construction, hospitality, the media and the military prior to joining us. These diverse experiences provide our legal and public affairs professionals with a unique perspective in advising clients on local, national, and international issues.

A really, really wide network.

Many of our past team members have built upon the skills gained at our firm and have transitioned into various positions throughout Hawaiʻi – from upper-level management in state and local government, financial institutions, public utilities, and insurance. We take pride in their accomplishments and their continued commitment to our community.


Recognized by clients and colleagues

With decades of experience among our attorneys and advisors, we are humbled by our clients and colleagues who consistently recognize that our knowledge, skills and exemplary service go beyond expectations.

In recent years, our attorneys and advisors have been recognized by Honolulu Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Hawaiʻi, Chambers USA, Benchmark Litigation, and Super Lawyers.  Our Public Affairs Group was awarded the prestigious Governor’s Award by the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.