The many hats of corporate counsel

by University Communications,

Eva M. Kripalani JD ‘86 makes the connection between law and business.

Throughout Eva Kripalani’s stellar legal career, being a part of the Willamette family has remained a valuable asset. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in finance-law from Portland State University, she enrolled in Willamette’s College of Law.

Her dedication to academics and advancement continued at Willamette, where she served on the Willamette Law Review, graduated Magna Cum Laude and was awarded the Order of the Coif. But another constant has been the personal support she has received from the Willamette community before and after graduation.

“Willamette provides a relatively small, intimate environment with easy access to people who are committed to helping you in your career and life,” Kripalani said. “It is something unique to Willamette: the feeling of community and ability to draw from prominent people who have achieved a lot. Some of the luminaries who come to mind include former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Paul DeMunis, who gives so much of his time to the university.”

After graduation, other Willamette alums helped her expand her connections with the legal community, including Henry Hewitt, JD'69. “Henry took personal interest in me and my career,” she said. “It’s the kind of help that means a lot.”

Kripalani specialized in corporate and securities law, and mergers and acquisitions at Stoel Rives and eventually became a partner. But after a decade of successful law firm experience, she gravitated toward in-house counsel work, becoming KinderCare Learning Centers’ vice president and general counsel. The experience spurred her into writing and publishing a book in 2013: The Generalist Counsel: How Leading General Counsel Are Shaping Tomorrow's Companies. She enjoyed a successful stint as a legal consultant until she was coaxed back to practicing in-house counsel work at FEI Company in 2014, by another Willamette alum, Bradley J. Thies ’82.

Now, as a member of Willamette’s Board of Trustees, she can focus on completing the circle of giving back to the campus community. “We lead such incredibly privileged lives,” Kripalani observed. “I like giving back and it’s a part of my career that has become very meaningful. I think many experiences I enjoy were created because I went to Willamette.”