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Andrew Murphy is a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Digging into law, collaboration fuel class actions

Name: Andrew Murphy

Title: Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels

Education: B.A., political science and history, Lehigh University; J.D., Notre Dame Law School

Andrew Murphy, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, says his desire to “turn over every rock” drives his pursuit of high-stakes, often years-long class-action cases.

Collaborating with clients over time to devise a long-term strategy adds to the appeal of his work, Murphy said.

“Class-action cases really give you the opportunity to dig into the law and get behind the law and understand it in ways that a lot of other cases don’t,” Murphy said. “You have to work hard to develop the arguments and understand the law and apply it to the unique facts of a class case.”

A “complete knockout” is rare in class-action cases as both sides often score points during multiyear litigation, Murphy said. “What you’re looking for when you’re evaluating how a case is going is not necessarily what’s happening in any one moment but what’s happening in the broader mosaic that you’re working to assemble.”

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Two things I love are history and travel. If you mention something combining the two like visiting a historical site or a battlefield or a president’s house, I’m hooked.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. Being a lawyer is the only thing that I ever seriously considered doing. When I was a teenager I competed in extemporaneous speech competitions. After one competition a judge said that I sounded like a lawyer. That sent me on a trajectory that I’ve been on to this day.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. “The Guns of August” by Barbara Tuchman. It’s my favorite example of the power of an introduction to seize a reader’s attention. I always have a few books about space and physics floating about.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. My biggest pet peeve is responsive arguments that do not actually respond to the argument being advanced. They make cases more complicated and cause everyone to spin their wheels over things that don’t matter.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. I love working on cases that present novel issues of law. I particularly enjoy working with a big team of people to come up with new arguments.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Sometimes we’re too quick to impute motives to our adversaries. Most people are trying to do what they think is right under the law and in the best interests of their clients. We do a pretty good job of recognizing that in Minnesota, but that’s not the case everywhere.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. Building and flying model rockets with my kids. I love my kids’ excitement during the countdowns and their enthusiasm as they run and try to catch the rocket, usually without success, as it parachutes to the ground.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I grew up in St. Cloud and would take them to see Munsinger Gardens, where you can see just about every type of flower that will grow in Minnesota and walk along the Mississippi River. The most scenic and peaceful place in the city.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. [Faegre counsel] Lucetta Pope, the clearest thinker and best writer with whom I’ve worked; more than anyone else she taught me how to think like a lawyer. [Faegre senior counsel] George Stohner, a longtime mentor. Every day he reminds me of the value of friendship, loyalty and tenacity.

Q. What, if any, is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A. My historical hero is John Adams. There’s a great episode in the HBO “John Adams” miniseries that focuses on Adams’ defense of the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. It’s a wonderful example of a lawyer standing up for the rule of law in the face of popular opposition.

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