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John T. Murphy

2019 Unsung Legal Heroes: John T. Murphy

After his fourth-grade teacher gave him a “Mister Arguing Award,” John Murphy decided to turn that ability into a legal career.

But it only took a year of law school to realize he was meant for a different career path.

“I loved absolutely everything about the law,” he said. “I just didn’t want to practice it.”

That realization has become a boon for the local legal community. As law library director for the Anoka County Law Library, Murphy has accomplished a great deal since taking on the role in 2016. He’s improved the law library’s offerings for lawyers, judges, and their law clerks through increased West-law access and additional computers, and he is working on a process for getting law books to county attorneys through their public library systems.

Drawing on his previous work as a prison librarian in Michigan, he sees his mission as being a resource and connection point, not just for attorneys and judges, but also for members of the public who need legal help but lack the funds to secure it.

Toward that end, he’s collaborated with Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance to create family law clinics twice per month at public libraries, and has been instrumental in leading Anoka County Law Day, a massive undertaking in late April that features legal service clinics for area residents.

“Everyone should have access to legal resources, but many times people just don’t know where to look,” he said. “My main objective is to have them leave the library with something that can help them.”

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