Remembering the Honorable Diana Murphy

By George Khoury, Esq. on May 23, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sad news broke last week that federal appeals court judge, Diana Murphy, passed away. She was reportedly not in good health, and was at home last Wednesday when it happened.

Judge Murphy, who was 84 years-old, will be remembered as a legal pioneer. When she was appointed in 1994, she was the first woman justice to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and was still on the bench until her passing, just on senior status. She had planned to fully retire this coming July.

Apart from being a trailblazer on the bench, Judge Murphy was known for being a "civic powerhouse," advocating for education and on behalf of women lawyers and judges. And there is no doubt that she will be remembered as such. Her colleagues on and off the bench commented that she would be remembered for her role in helping to "break the judicial glass ceiling" and as judge that could "match wits and intellect with anyone."

Notably, before serving on appellate court, Judge Murphy served for 14 years on the federal district court bench, and before that, spent 4 years on the bench in state court. Her passing is sad news, particularly as it was only a few short months after she was honored by Minnesota Lawyer as the Attorney of the Year.

Be a Pushy Learner

Judge Murphy's career advice, given her own successful career, is something lawyers, from young and old to aspirational, should keep in mind. She once explained:

You have to fight for others and you also have to fight for your own situation. You also have to be willing understand that you will make mistakes. You have to just keep learning.

Another piece of advice she had for attorneys entering the job market: "You have to be really pushy. Don't be afraid to be pushy."

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