Irvine, CA – Rutan & Tucker is pleased to announce the addition of Joanna L. Blake as Of Counsel in the firm’s Labor & Employment section. Bringing more than 20 years of legal experience, 12 of those in-house, Ms. Blake most recently served as Vice President of Human Resources and General Counsel for WKS Restaurant Group, a California-based multi-unit, multi-brand franchisee with more than 10,000 employees in 19 states. There, Ms. Blake oversaw dedicated teams in Human Resources and Learning and Development, and managed legal and compliance issues.
“Joanna brings a wealth of knowledge and talents to our firm having served in the HR role at well-established companies as well as senior legal positions for restaurant businesses,” says Mark Frazier, Managing Partner of Rutan. “We are excited to have her join our dynamic practice groups that offer labor and employment counsel as well as other legal services to companies in the food and beverage industry.”
Ms. Blake’s in-house experience includes serving as Senior Director of Legal Affairs for Mimi’s Café. After Mimi’s was acquired, she became Associate General Counsel overseeing litigation and risk management for Le Duff America, a multi-brand, multi-state restaurant company. During her career, she has advised and counseled company executives, business partners and HR teams about employee relations, wage/hour issues, sensitive terminations, discrimination and harassment claims, and protected leaves, among other things. She has provided training about wage/hour regulations and employment law compliance and has directed and conducted misconduct investigations.
“I’ve worked closely with Rutan’s labor and employment team for years since the firm served as outside counsel to my former companies, handling traditional employment matters as well as litigation when it was needed,” says Ms. Blake, who is licensed to practice law in California, Nevada, and Texas. “I look forward to using my extensive experience in labor and employment law to support Rutan’s clients in and outside the restaurant industry.”
Ms. Blake graduated summa cum laude from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, California, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from Chapman University in Orange, California. During law school, she was a Judicial Extern for the Honorable Alex Kozinski, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.