Marie Gockel loves the law for a simple reason.
“I always wanted to fight for the common person and try to help people stand up to bullies,” said the 64-year-old St. Louis native. “I wanted to make sure that people are treated with respect and dignity.”
The UMKC law graduate has made a special point of doing exactly that, always fighting for the underdog as a plaintiffs’ employment law and civil rights attorney at Bratcher Gockel Law, the firm she co-founded with Lynne Bratcher in 1995.
“She is known to attack her cases like a bulldog,” writes her nominator, who describes her as persistent, thoughtful and honest, “with resilience and zeal, finding every valid argument on behalf of her clients and refusing to give up until the end.”
A former clerk for Judge Hal Lowenstein of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Gockel ultimately rose to become a partner during her 11-year career at Mitchell, Kristl & Lieber, where she handled a wide variety of employment matters, commercial litigation and business torts often representing small enterprises and individuals.
She’s spent more than a quarter century since then doing work at her current firm, where she pursues justice for people she terms “everyday heroes” who fight back against employers who discriminate or retaliate against them.
“I think there are a lot of challenges to this area of the law,” she said. “It’s always interesting to work on cases that may be on the cusp of new law or new applications of the law.”
Inspired by her lawyer first cousin to be an attorney, she said she also likes working with people from all walks of life.
“I think it is a good thing to believe in the cases that you are pursuing,” said Gockel, who was honored with a Women’s Justice Award by Missouri Lawyers Weekly in 2017. “That’s something I’ve always thought was important.”
“It is good to be humble,” she said. “I think it is good to realize that you are the person to put yourself in other people’s shoes and deal with people with respect.”
The important thing is to make sure that the voice of her client is heard.
“We see that you can make a difference in somebody’s life because somebody believed in them enough to stand up for them in court,” she said. “To pursue a case all the way to trial and be successful is very rewarding [where you] see that you can make a difference in how somebody perceives themselves. The fact that they obtain justice does make a difference in people’s lives.”