Joel S. Pace
Joel attended the University of Texas from 1987 to 1991. Originally, he majored in mechanical engineering. However, after negative experiences with Differential Equations and Electricity and Magnetism, he decided that Political Science was a better fit for his particular talents. At the same time, he decided to study Russian. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Russian Language Studies in 1991.
He then attended South Texas College of Law in Houston where he would ultimately receive his J.D. in 1994. He worked full time during law school to pay for his expenses. During this first year, he was in the top 10 percent of his class and became a member of the South Texas Law Review. An interesting fact about Joel is that he has the distinction of being one of the few persons to have both graded and written onto Law Review. He was also very active in the famed South Texas Board of Advocates. He was elected vice-president of this organization in 1994. He also won several mock trial tournaments during his time in law school. At the end of his law school tenure, Joel graduated in the top 12 percent of his class.
From 1994-1999, Joel was an associate with the firm of Thornton, Summers, Biechlin, Dunham & Brown, in San Antonio, Texas. During this time, his practice focused on the defense and trial of a wide variety of matters ranging from personal injury, premises liability, insurance code, DTPA, RCLA, construction defect, and legal malpractice claims. Being responsible for a large docket allowed him to try multiple cases in both county and district court very early in his career. Moreover, he was responsible for his team’s appellate matters. Joel has several cases that have been reported including Smith v. Heard, 980 S.W.2d 693 (Tex. App. – San Antonio 1998, writ denied) and Gonzales v. American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, 948 S.W.2d 794 (Tex. App. – San Antonio 1997, writ denied).
Upon moving to Austin as an Associate (he would later become a Shareholder) with Davis & Wilkerson in 1999, he continued to practice in the areas of construction defect litigation, personal injury, commercial litigation, DTPA, RCLA, and related matters. During his time at D&W, Joel developed a proficiency in handling large construction disputes involving multiple parties and thousands of documents. Over the last 22 years, Joel has been involved in many large commercial and multi-family (condominium) construction related disputes in the Austin-area. This work has evolved into the direct representation of numerous general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, other construction-related entities, and owners in transactional matters such as lien filings, lien disputes, contract negotiation and drafting, employment matters, and many other issues. He continued to have a very active trial practice having tried numerous cases in both State county and district court.
In 2008, Joel and one of his partners at Davis & Wilkerson, Steven Levatino, left to form Levatino|Pace PLLC. The goal of this new firm was to have a more intimate practice that allowed Steven and Joel to develop better relationships with their clients. Small firm practice better suited Joel and allows him to treat his clients not as billable assets, but business partners and eventually friends.
When Joel formed Levatino|Pace PLLC, he also expanded his practice. Over the last 13 years, Joel's practices has grown to include a substantial family law practice that includes divorces, modifications, enforcements and adoptions.
Joel has also developed a burgeoning estate planning practice over the years. While estate planning (wills, probate, powers of attorney) started out as a small part of his practice, over the last few years , this aspect of his practice has grown substantially. Joel believes that providing reasonable priced estate planning services to people is a vitally important aspect of his practice. The recent COVID-19 pandemic also presented an opportunity for Joel to start a related practice in this area. In 2020, Joel started the website "www.curbsideattorney.com" through which he offers pandemic-friendly, and socially distanced estate planning services to the Austin-area. Through this website, clients can quickly, easily, and safely obtain wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents. Joel intends to expand the services offered through in the coming months.
Joel's practice also involves representing a number of small and medium-sized businesses. Joel helps with entity formation and governance. Joel serves as outside general counsel for several small businesses and non-profit foundations. Joel also handles legal disputes between shareholders, members, and partners in these businesses.
As 2021 starts, Joel looks forward to continuing to grow his small firm and his practice.
Licensure & Memberships
Joel is licensed by the State Bar of Texas since 1994.
Joel belongs to many professional organizations and practice groups. These practice groups include the Austin Bar Association, the Business Law Section, Computer and Technology Sections, Construction Law Section, Consumer and Commercial Law Section, Family Law Section, General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Section, Litigation Section, and the Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law Sections of the State Bar of Texas.
Joel is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, which is a prestigious, invitation only organization that strives to provide opportunities to the public and to protect the justice system.
Ratings & Honors
Joel is rated "AV Preeminent" (the highest rating available) by Martindale Hubble, which is a peer-reviewed rating system for attorneys. This rating is given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.
In 2019, 2020, and 2021 Joel was named a Super Lawyer in Construction Law and Litigation by Super Lawyers. Joel was previously recognized as "Rising Star" by the same publication on two prior occasions.
Joel Scott Pace was raised in Baytown and Highlands, Texas. He grew up with his older brother Jonathan and younger twin sisters, Amy and Stacy.
Joel’s parents, Kenneth and Charlene Pace, were habitual entrepreneurs who have operated a number of restaurants, including several Mexican food restaurants. His mother previously owned and operated The Blanco Settlement (a bed and breakfast) in Blanco, Texas. From an early age, Joel’s father put him to work in the restaurants, completely ignoring all child labor laws. However, this instilled a work ethic in Joel that carries over to this day.
Joel attended high school at Baytown Sterling High School. While in high school he was a member of the water polo and swim teams. In water polo, he was voted First Team All-District (three years), First Team All-State (three years) and, in 1986, First Team All-American after leading his team to the finals of the State Championship. During this same time, he also excelled in swimming. He won over 10 individual district championships in various disciplines. He was elected captain of both the water polo teams and the swim teams in 1985 and 1986. After his senior year, he was selected by the local paper (The Baytown Sun) as the Bay Area Athlete of the Year in 1986.
Joel attended the University of Texas in Austin from 1987 through 1991. In 1991, Joel is a proud Longhorn.
After graduating law school in 1994, Joel passed the bar exam and accepted an associate position in San Antonio, Texas. Joel loved his time in San Antonio. If you ever want to learn how to find your way out of a labyrinth, just try driving in San Antonio. The streets make absolutely no sense. However, you get use to it. Also, there is nothing like Presiding Court in San Antonio.
In 1999, in conjunction with his new position at Austin’s Davis & Wilkerson, P.C., Joel relocated to Austin, Texas where he immediately fell in love with the city and all its offerings. He continues to enjoy living in Austin with his wife, not-so-young son (now 17 and a rising senior - OMG, where did the time go) and extended family and friends.
Joel has a number of interests other than law. First, Joel is a technology junkie. Any new gadget that comes out, Joel is sure to be the beta-tester.
Joel is also an avid athlete. Joel has two loves - swimming (remember high school, eh?) and cycling. Joel loves to cycle and enjoys collecting new and vintage Italian bicycles. While his practice certainly cuts into his riding time, he still regularly rides over 3,000 miles a year. Joel has participated in various triathlons and long group rides like the MS150 from Houston to Austin. Also, Joel has had the pleasure to ride in Europe on various tours. In 2011, he completed the E'tape du Tour, a difficult ride through the French Alps. He is most proud of having climbed Alpe du Huez, Mont Ventoux, the Galibier, and numerous other steep mountains. Joel continues to swim too and hopes to start competing again once his son is safely off to college!
Joel previously served elected to the Circle C Ranch Homeowners Association Board of Directors. He was significantly involved in the planning and construction of the Circle C Community Center and Pool.
Joel has served on several local boards. Joel previously served as a board member for the KidsActing Foundation, a local non-profit that provided free acting and theater classes to children with Down's Syndrome and on the Autism Spectrum). Joel recently accepted a board position with Variety, The Children's Charity of Texas and is excited to work with them in the coming years to help other differently able children live happy and productive lives.
Joel has his own charitable projects as well. In 2017, Joel's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a long, hard recovery. Thankfully, she is fine now. The experience was the catalyst for a new project. Joel and his family started putting on an annual Halloween event where they recreate the world of Harry Potter in the driveway and on their house. It is called Diagon Alley ATX. This event started as a way to cheer up Joel's wife post-cancer. It has turned into an annual spectacle that attracts thousands of visitors. Joel and has family have turned this event into a fund raiser for various charities they work with and admire. These charities include Foster Angels of Central Texas, Variety of Texas, and the ZACH Theater. Seriously, this thing has gotten completely out of control. You can read more about the project on their Facebook page HERE.
So, yes, the rumors are true: Joel and his family are that crazy family that puts on the crazy Harry Potter/Diagon Alley Halloween display.
Currently, Joel has practiced law for more than 25 years in the state of Texas. For the last 13 years, Joel and Steven Levatino have practiced as Levatino|Pace PLLC. Steven and Joel were joined by Andrew F. MacRae in 2012.
Joel’s practice areas include:
Family Law & Adoptions
Wills, Estate Planning & Probate
Construction Law & Litigation
Corporate Law, Formation, & Litigation
Outside General Counsel
Trademark Registration and Protection
Joel looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with his clients to serve their legal needs. Joel strives to develop close, personal relationships with his clients that will translate into better working relationships with them.