Alumnus Patrick J. Murphy Discusses Leadership and the Law
Web Editor - Published: October 8, 2012

Patrick Murphy talks about the responsibilities and opportunities of a legal education.

Patrick Murphy speaks with Professor John L. Gedid's class about his career path.

“This place is special,” said Patrick J. Murphy ’99 of Widener University School of Law as he spoke to students, faculty, and staff on the Harrisburg campus on the afternoon of Monday, October 8th.

The former U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District spoke about his time on the Harrisburg campus and his love for the school, his career path, and why it is important to embrace the opportunities and responsibilities of a legal education. Widener’s Law and Government Institute sponsored the event, which began as an annual lecture series in the fall of 2010.

Murphy praised the faculty for caring so much about their students, and he also encouraged the students to look in the mirror and ask themselves what they could do to help make Widener Law a better place, adding, “I say things like Widener family, and I don’t throw that out as just a figure of speech, I really mean it.”

He implored them to remember the incredible opportunities afforded them by “getting a legal education at a great law school,” and he also used the example of his own failure to write on to law review during law school to observe, “You have failures along the way and that’s okay. It’s what you do with them.”

Murphy also shared some stories from his own career, including his time as a professor at West Point, his deployment to Bosnia and subsequently Iraq following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and his experiences running for Congress. He also took questions from the audience, including one about his support of the bill to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Murphy answered by sharing some thoughts about how his own views on that subject changed and noted, “I saw great people get thrown out just because they were gay,” before concluding, “If you see something wrong, you have a responsibility to do something about it.”

Later that evening, Murphy also spoke to one of Professor John L. Gedid’s classes about his own career path and how they should plan for where they want to be several years down the road.

Currently a Partner with Fox Rothschild LLP in Philadelphia, Murphy represented Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District in Washington, D.C. for two terms from 2006 to 2010. At Widener, he was a member of the Trial Advocacy Honor Society, President of the St. Thomas More Society and worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office and later as a leader in the Harrisburg Civil Law Clinic while concurrently serving in the Army Reserve.

During his military career, Patrick trained as an airborne and air assault paratrooper, and later served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, a prosecutor in North Carolina, and an assistant professor of Constitutional Law at West Point. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, Murphy went into his commander’s office and volunteered to deploy. His first deployment was to Bosnia in 2002 and the second was to Baghdad, Iraq from 2003–2004. While in Baghdad, Patrick served as a Captain in the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division, and was later awarded the Bronze Star for Service.