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John Rafferty

As a partner within Gawthrop Greenwood’s Litigation Department, John Rafferty represents individuals, businesses and nonprofits in civil litigation. He also provides experienced legal representation in Chester County Orphans’ Court for disputes and litigation involving guardianships, powers of attorney, wills, estates and trusts. Rafferty was recently invited to join a committee that improved the local rules of civil procedure for Chester County Orphans’ Court, and, when the need arises, is tapped by the Orphans’ Court to represent individuals who may require guardians to assist in their future decision-making. While serving as a litigation partner, Rafferty regularly sits as an arbitrator for the Chester County Court of Common Pleas and is available to mediate cases through the Chester County Bar Association.

John’s extensive trial experience includes his work at the Chester County District Attorney’s office where, as an Assistant District Attorney, he managed multiple cases from investigation through trial, prosecuting serious criminal matters, including homicides and assaults.

John’s career began in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a naval officer in southeast Asia, southern California and the Middle East. In Bahrain, he served as the Assistant General Secretary for the Migrant Workers Protection Society, which addressed the housing needs of the area’s migrant workforce. He was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for meritorious shipboard accomplishments, as well as the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for exemplary public service efforts.

John was awarded a full scholarship to Villanova Law School as a Public Interest Scholar, and received the Super Lawyers Pro Bono Award for exhibiting a significant and sustained commitment to public service through his work as a law student.

Upon graduation, John received a Fulbright Fellowship, which enabled him to live in Ecuador for 10 months, where he conducted field research on the scope of human trafficking. When he returned to the U.S., he fought for immigration benefits for victims of human trafficking with the Philadelphia non-profit law firm Justice at Work. John also initiated civil suits under federal and state law to recover unpaid wages for victims of trafficking.

John currently serves on the board of advisors for the Villanova Law School’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation. He is chair of the board of LCH Health and Community Services. He also serves on the board of the Barn at Springbrook Farm and chairs the Barn’s Governance Committee.

John is often invited to speak about the vulnerabilities that lead to situations of human trafficking, including at events hosted by state senators in the Chester County region. Other speaking engagements include:

  • Finding Justice for Survivors of Sexual Abuse – Amplify Insight Podcast (March 2020)
  • New Jersey & Pennsylvania Light a Beacon for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse – NBC10 News (December 2019)
  • What You Need to Know About New Drone Laws in Pennsylvania – Continuing Legal Education (January 2019)
  • Identifying & Representing Victims of Human Trafficking – Continuing Legal Education (October 2018)
  • Mastering Bitcoin, Blockchain and Digital Currency Law – Webinar (October 2018)
  • Assisting Survivors of Sex Trafficking – Temple ​University School of Public Health (Mar 2017)
  • Labor Trafficking & Its Challenges – Luzerne County Family Services Association (Jan 2017)
  • International Human Rights Guest Lecturer – Villanova Law School & Chestnut Hill College (Ongoing since 2014)
  • Best Practices in Crime Scene Photography – Pennsylvania State Police & Centre County Police (2015-2016)

John was also recently invited to present a Continuing Legal Education course on “Blockchains and Bitcoin: What Lawyers Can’t Afford to Ignore” at the nation’s oldest law library, Jenkins Law Library in Center City Philadelphia.

John lives with his wife, Sarah, in the borough of West Chester. Together, they enjoy cooking, ​mountain biking and developing side businesses.


  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 2013
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania


  • Villanova University School of Law, J.D., 2012
  • Boston College, B.A., Philosophy, 2005


  • Villanova Law School’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, board of directors
  • LCH Health and Community Services, chair of the board of directors
  • Barn at Springbrook Farm, board member and chair of governance committee


  • Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2020-2023
  • Top Lawyers, Main Line Today, 2018-2022 – #1 in Civil Litigation
  • Top Lawyers, Daily Local News, 2021-2022 Readers Choice Awards
  • VISTA.Today Millennial Superstar, 2021
  • Fulbright Research Fellow in Ecuador
  • Super Lawyers Pro Bono Award
  • Independence Foundation Legal Fellow
  • Dorothy Day Award for Excellence in the Provision of Pro Bono Legal Services
  • Walter-Lucas Public Interest Fellow
  • Villanova Award for Advancing Equality of Opportunity & Treatment of Women

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