Our People

Joan Pettingill

Director & Head of Employment Law & HR




22 years


Joan studied law at Newcastle Upon Tyne and also took her solicitor’s finals exams there. Joan is a hugely experienced public speaker and professional trainer having delivered literally hundreds of training courses in employment law, HR and GDPR.

As an employment lawyer Joan is dedicated to supporting leaders and is also an ILM 7 qualified executive coach & mentor.

Main Areas of Work:

Joan protects and increases her client’s wealth, reputation and businesses to support their success. She is trusted by her clients to provide steadfast solutions and sound advice when business decisions need to be made. More than a legal advisor, Joan’s business acumen means she is often regarded as part of her client’s teams. She has multi-sector experience and is widely recognised for her expertise across employment law, HR, GDPR as well as training & coaching.

Joan also worked in house in financial services (now well known for it’s insurance comparison websites) and takes the time to understand her client’s organisations.  Joan has developed a loyal and substantial client following and is renowned for being friendly and approachable, technically excellent and commercial. She is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Joan advised on the full range of employment law. Her recent work includes:

  • Furlough agreements, the Government’s Job Support Scheme(s), lay-offs and short time working
  • Redundancies and restructures
  • Executive & senior exits and bulk settlement agreements
  • Trade union matters including: recognition and derecognition including recognition disputes, revising recognition agreements, pay bargaining and advice on all types of industrial action
  • Drafting and renegotiating all kinds of employment contracts and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims including complex, multiple union backed claims
  • TUPE consultations and defence of claims
  • Investigation and management of complex and sensitive cyber-crime issues in the care sector
  • Data subject access requests (DSARs)
  • Biometric data recognition policies related to Covid-19

Great / Notable achievements at Wake Smith:

Joan has only recently joined Wake Smith and her career highlights before joining us include:

  • Success in the House of Lords clarifying the extent of vicarious liability in the education & care sectors, specifically in relation to boarding schools (acting in this case for minors)
  • Diffusing industrial action and thus avoiding closure of client’s 200 sites
  • By one small contractual amendment, closing down a client’s exposure to risk of a six figure pay out
  • Successful defence of multiple holiday pay claims
  • Advice on medication errors, safeguarding and CQC implications of disciplinary matters
  • Fraud identification, prevention and financial recovery 
  • Drafting and enforcing business protection restrictions

What clients say about you:

‘Joan has been on hand to guide us through a very tricky time as we have been faced with a restructure. Unlike many employment law specialists, Joan has a great understanding of our challenges and has been great support, keeping in contact with us every step of the way.’ - Quoted in The Legal 500 2022

“Joan is a business focusses legal partner.”

“My first choice for consistent high standards in all employment law matters.”

“Joan has been a massive benefit to my business.”

“Anyone’s go-to Solicitor.”

Recent articles by Joan Pettingill

Are personal relationships in the office a legitimate management concern?
No right to carry-over payment for unpaid holidays taken

Furlough and self employment income support schemes extended
Taxi drivers case hailed as ground-breaking decision for employees
No jab, no job – can businesses force employees to have the Covid vaccine?

Contact us