Keller Rohrback Partner, Gretchen Freeman Cappio featured in Lawdragon Limelight

August 04, 2022


Keller Rohrback partner, Gretchen Freeman Cappio has recently been featured in the popular Lawyer Limelight interview series. In her interview, Gretchen discusses her international journey to becoming lawyer, her law professor father’s influence and what drives her to leave the world in a better place through the practice of law among other topics.  

An excerpt of the interview can be read below:

Lawyering has always been a matter of passion for Gretchen Freeman Cappio. In college she was exposed to nascent democracies internationally, and grew a deep respect for the American legal system. Her father was a law professor, and he imparted in her the ability of a lawyer to make a real difference in the lives of individuals, and society at large.

Cappio handles complex litigation, including class actions, with an emphasis on multidistrict cases with a public interest component. She has been involved in negotiations leading to several well-known settlements, including the Volkswagen emissions litigation and most recently, the litigation against Mylan and Pfizer relating to the pricing of EpiPens. Courts across the nation have recognized her leadership. She has been appointed to represent plaintiffs in many cases including in litigation involving automotive defects, banking misconduct, and data security, among others.

Cappio joined top plaintiffs’ firm Keller Rohrback straight out of law school and hasn’t looked back. She is now a member of the Executive Committee. When she had her first child, she struggled with the impossible decision of where to invest her energies, wishing she could split herself in two. The firm’s management showed compassion and foresight, and together they figured out solutions so she could be there for her family – and they could keep this top litigator on board.

Cappio, who received her J.D. from University of Washington School of Law, is a member of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America.

Lawdragon: Was there an early experience or mentor who really helped shape the course of your professional life?

Gretchen F. Cappio: I’m an incredibly lucky person because my first mentor in law was also my father, John P. Freeman. He was a distinguished law professor at the University of South Carolina for 35 years. As a child, I didn’t know much about the substance of what my dad did, but I did appreciate that when people were really hurting or in need, they called on him. And he made a palpable difference, solving problems in his dogged, charitable, no-nonsense, inimitable style. When he passed away a few months ago, the letters pouring in from the dozens and dozens of people whom he had helped reminded our family of what huge shoes he left to fill.

I admit, while I looked up to my dad tremendously, as a young person, I was a little reluctant to see myself as a lawyer. But one of the things that stands out to me even today is how effective he was at sharing his love for the law. Whenever I would ask him how he knew something, he would usually say, “That’s the kind of thing you learn in law school.” And whether or not someone practices law, “No one ever regrets getting a law degree.”

As I started to think about career options, I felt more and more drawn to seriously consider law as a practical way to help people and to solve major problems that affect our society.

LD: Did any experience from your undergraduate work push you towards a career in the law?

GC: I absolutely adored my college experience. I met some of my very best, lifelong friends and mentors in college. 

In a stroke of total luck, I won the roommate lottery. I was matched with someone who became one of my best college friends as a freshman year roommate. Her family is South African, but because of Apartheid, they hadn’t been able to live in South Africa for much of her childhood. To date myself, President Mandela was elected while we were in college. I was thrilled to be able to visit my friend’s amazing family and to revel in the new day dawning in South Africa.

I’ve only got so many years on this earth, and I want to leave it a better place for my children and everyone else.

While at Dartmouth, I had the opportunity to study in Kenya where I was matched with a fabulous host family that I am still close to today. Over lively dinnertime conversations in Nairobi, we discussed our respective countries’ political systems. My host family opened my eyes to how lucky I was to be an American and to be able to enjoy many of the civil liberties that I had taken for granted growing up. I was reminded of how unique the American Constitution really is, piquing an interest in me to explore that more.

Throughout all of my college travels, my eyes were opened to what makes America special and why our Constitution is regarded as a hallowed document in emerging democracies worldwide. I wanted to protect what makes our country special.

You can read the full interview here.

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