Q&A with Joe Pettygrove, partner
Why did you become an attorney? Who inspired you? If I’m being honest, becoming a lawyer was – originally – a hastily constructed “Plan B.” When I was young, nearly everyone in my family worked for my maternal grandfather’s grocery store business, and my only plan for most of my life was to continue working with my family. But it was (and is) a tough industry, especially for smaller operators, and my family wound up selling during my last year of college. I had an offer to join the new owners but just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of working for any grocery store not run by an O’Malia. My father encouraged me not to jump into another job right away and take a few years to think things through while earning a graduate degree. I felt law school would best complement my undergraduate business degree, and later realized that employment law would really allow me to use my family-business experience for the benefit of my clients.
Practice areas at KGR: Management-side HR/Employment litigation and counseling. That means I work with employers (for-profit/non-profit, private and public, all shapes and sizes) on nearly any employee issue. It includes prevention (policy development, investigations, supervisory training, counseling management, and HR through individual employee situations, etc.) and defense (litigating before agencies and courts).
Where are you originally from and where have you worked previously? I was born in Indianapolis, raised in Carmel, and now raise my own family (husband and father of five) in Westfield. My very first (pre-law school) job was wearing the mascot suit for my family’s business at parades, festivals, etc. (I was a 6-foot-tall leprechaun named Denny). Before joining KGR, I worked in one of the state’s (and later world’s) largest full-service law firms. That was a great experience – I learned employment litigation, HR counseling and training from some of the very best. I also developed relationships with a number of non-profits and smaller companies that led me to realize there’s a significant and underserved number of employers who genuinely need good HR legal advice without the “BigLaw” price tag. My law partner Steve Runyan had been with KGR since we both started practicing law in 2005 and convinced me it would be a great place to test my theory. He was right!
What do you enjoy about your job and the law? The variety of people I get to meet and industries I get to learn about. At bottom, I deal with just about any situation where an employee has some concern related to their workplace, so I wind up getting “behind-the-scenes” looks at lots of different industries. I’ve come home with sawdust on my clothes from lumber mills, “kibble dust” from an FDA-regulated manufacturer, and plenty of goggles and ear plugs from all sorts of other factories. I’ve seen old warehouses and super-modern shipping facilities, casino back-of-house areas, pizza kitchens and the list goes on.
Favorite activities outside of work: Playing Ping-Pong, Mario Kart or Just Dance with the kids.