As a child, Misty Lavender Foy competed fiercely in basketball, a sport she continued to play at the University of North Florida. “I’ve always had that competitive nature in me,” she notes. “In college, I was headed down a path of industrial organizational psychology when I decided to try law instead.”
Ultimately, Foy shares, it was her competitive spirit that attracted her to the law, particularly litigation.
“In law, there are a lot of gray areas and room to be creative when you need to be,” she says. “I like the negotiation part of it—and working a case to build leverage and be in a better position when in negotiation.”
Plus, with new cases every day and new precedents to work with because of the ever-changing nature of law, Foy enjoys the research behind a case as much as the litigation itself.
“There are no black-and-white answers a lot of times, which can be frustrating. Businesses want a sure route, but most of the time, our answers are more along the lines of ‘it depends,’” she explains. “I like that about it.” Besides, as the years go by, she says, you gain more experience and get to know the business. “You better understand what strategy works best and adds value.”
Foy started her legal career as a litigation associate before establishing her own firm. She managed the firm from 2008 until 2017, when she joined the City of Chattanooga office as assistant city attorney. She left in 2018 for the City of Franklin, Tennessee, where she held the same role.
“I was doing all civil litigation in my own practice, and I had gotten to the point where I wanted to work on something bigger,” she explains.
After a few months, she decided to go in-house, becoming senior legal counsel of retail and litigation at Delek US Holdings. She was promoted to associate general counsel of operations and litigation in April 2019 and leads the litigation and claims department as of April 2020.
“That corporate in-house is just what I was looking for,” Foy says. “Working in-house, there’s something new on my desk every day, and I really like that because I am constantly building on my skill set.”
Since coming to the energy company, based in Brentwood, Tennessee, Foy has beefed up the litigation department. She genuinely enjoys litigation. “We like to resolve matters, not just litigate,” she says.
Aside from handling the organization’s portfolio of cases and prelitigation disputes, Foy and her team manage claims, as the claims department falls under the litigation department’s umbrella.
“Working in-house, there’s something new on my desk every day, and I really like that because I am constantly building on my skill set.”
“In our current litigation portfolio, we can have cases ranging from the run-of-the-mill slip and fall at a retail store all the way up to potentially high-exposure antitrust cases,” Foy says. “Something that we really try to focus on in my department is making an early assessment of a case and being as accurate as we can be. If we have a pretty good idea at the beginning, we can make really good decisions upfront on how to defend or prosecute the case.”
At Delek US Holdings, the legal department has been known to focus on diversity, both within the department and with outside counsel. Diversity was very important to Foy’s former general counsel, and it is just as highly valued by her current general counsel.
“I’ve asked specifically on cases that minorities are represented, both women and people of color, because that’s important to our group,” she says. “We have some huge cases that pose significant potential exposure, and it’s important for us that everyone has an opportunity to work on those cases.”
The accomplishment Foy is most proud of since starting at Delek US Holdings is consolidating litigation within a single department. Before she got there, litigation was very diffuse.
“We’ve done a really good job. Now, we’re a department of four people who work well together, with all our processes streamlined,” she says. “We’ve really tried to provide that value back to the business and brought a positive spin of resolution to the department.”
You’d expect nothing less from her.
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP:
“It is a pleasure to work with Misty. She is an innovative and strategic thinker who keeps the team focused on the big picture while at the same time sweating the details that so often matter in litigation.”
–Mark Oakes, Partner