Joana S. Ellis
Central Alabama Office

Ms. Ellis is Of Counsel with Holtsford Gilliland Higgins Hitson & Howard, P.C. in addition to her position as Executive Director of the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (“ADLA”).

Joana received her J.D. degree from the University of Alabama Law School in 1983. She was an Associate Editor of the Alabama Law Review and a member of the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society. Joana’s principal areas of practice include appellate work, insurance coverage issues, including filing and defending declaratory judgment actions, and insurance defense litigation. She has testified as an expert witness on insurance coverage matters. She has maintained a Martindale- Hubbell peer review rating of AV for many years.

Joana served as Amicus Curiae Chairperson for the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association for 10 years and has written numerous amicus curiae briefs. She also serves on ADLA’s Editorial Board for its publication, the Journal. She is a charter member of the Appellate Practice section of the Alabama State Bar Association and has spoken at numerous seminars on appellate issues as well as insurance coverage and bad faith litigation issues.

In 2006 and 2007, Joana was employed as an Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Legal Division of the Alabama Department of Insurance. While at the Insurance Department, she dealt with insurance regulatory matters, including cease-and-desist orders and interpreting insurance regulations and bulletins. She also developed the State of Alabama’s hurricane mediation program and personally served as the mediator in resolving numerous coverage and claim disputes between policyholders and insurance companies relating to Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina. Her mediation program consistently maintained a success rate of over 90%.

In addition to her position as Executive Director of ADLA, Joana is a long-time member of the Association. She is also a member of the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Alabama Bar Association (charter member of the Appellate Practice Section), and the American Inns of Court. She is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Alabama and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bar Admissions

  • Alabama, September 1983
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Alabama
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Legal Education

  • University of Alabama School of Law, J.D. degree 1983

Current and Past Professional Affiliations

  • Alabama Bar Association, charter member of Appellate Practice Section
  • Alabama Defense Lawyers Association, Executive Director
  • Amicus Curiae Chairperson for 10 years
  • Member of Editorial Board for the Journal
  • American Inns of Court, Honorary Emeritus member
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Montgomery County Bar Association