2021 VISTA Millennial Superstars: John Rafferty


Downingtown native John Rafferty is an attorney and Partner at Gawthrop Greenwood, a West Chester-based law firm where he focuses his practice on civil and business litigation matters.

Rafferty fondly recalls his first Chester County job in 10th grade as a farmer of Japanese maple trees at Green Mansions Nursery in Downingtown.

“I used to bike over there and spend the day repotting plants and learning how to join two plants into one, using a technique called grafting, to produce a superior product,” he said. “It was pretty solitary work, and I think that’s when I first started listening to books on tape and learning the value of continuing to expand one’s knowledge.”

Rafferty earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Boston College and his law degree from Villanova, which he attended on a full scholarship as a Public Interest Scholar. He currently serves on the board of advisors for Villanova Law School’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

He credits the immigrant laborers, whom he met in the Arabian Gulf, with having the biggest impact on his career.

“They continue to work in indentured servitude and propel me every day to lean in and work harder for the oppressed, the marginalized, and those without a voice,” said Rafferty.

His proudest professional accomplishment was providing pro bono representation for an asylum applicant who suffered severe domestic violence in Honduras.

“After preparing the client for trial in Spanish and representing her across two days of testimony,” said Rafferty, “she and her two children were released from detention and got to start life anew in the United States.”

Rafferty’s favorite Chester County restaurant is dolce Zola in West Chester.

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