Alumnus and Former U.S. Congressman Delivers Wherry Lecture to Harrisburg ITAP Students
Web Editor - Published: May 24, 2012


“Use this experience that you have here at Widener to be better. Whether you go into public service or private practice, you have an incredible opportunity to make a difference,” said former Congressman Patrick J. Murphy as he delivered the E. John Wherry, Jr. Distinguished Lecture in Trial Advocacy and Professionalism to students in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program on the Harrisburg campus

Speaking after an introduction from ITAP Director J. Palmer Lockard, II, Murphy said, “Whether you plan to be a trial attorney or not, this course is critical,” before indicating that even for lawyers who will not be litigators, the skills learned in ITAP are still essential to understanding what is potentially at stake for clients.

“A trial is the intersection between life and law. It is a dramatic event,” he added, emphasizing just how important trials are and why a lawyer needs to be properly prepared.

Throughout his remarks, Murphy shared some of his own experiences trying cases, and he spoke passionately about how his time at Widener - and particularly the ITAP Program - helped to prepare him for his career. Murphy shared some of his thoughts on how best to approach the different phases of a trial including trial preparation, opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and closing arguments. He also engaged the students by posing questions and inviting their thoughts.

Congressman Murphy is an Iraq war veteran, former West Point professor, and criminal prosecutor. Murphy started his higher education at Bucks County Community College and then went on to King’s College in Wilkes-Barre. While attending King’s College, Murphy entered the U.S. Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

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. When September 11th happened, 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.

In November 2006, Patrick won his first election and he was sworn in on January 4, 2007, becoming the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress. He is currently a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP.