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Matt Murphy, Senior Deputy District Attorney, Orange County, California

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Matt Murphy is lucky. While many of us have struggled figuring out what to do with our lives, he knew after his first day as a junior law clerk in the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

It was a summer job after his first year in law school, and he was hooked on prosecuting from day one.

"Criminal prosecution looked like it would be the most interesting way to make a living with a law degree. I decided I'd give it a shot for the summer and see what I'd learn. And I had so much fun on the first day working on little motions to suppress on misdemeanor cases. I knew I'd found a home," he told LawCrossing.

That was 11 years ago. Murphy returned the next summer, and after he passed the Bar, he joined the DA's office permanently. He has worked in the gang and sexual assault units, and now as a senior deputy district attorney, he focuses solely on homicides.

While many attorneys work in a DA's office for a few years to get trial experience and then move on to private practice, Murphy says for him and plenty of others, it would be difficult to switch to the defense side.

"Prosecution kind of gets into their blood and getting the bad guy becomes important to them," he said. "A lot of people leave the office here and end up coming back. That's actually a pretty common phenomenon."

Right now, he is handling 12 cases and preparing for upcoming trials, one involving a white supremacist gang member who allegedly murdered a store clerk and another, a drunk driver who hit a family, killing two people.

Murphy, 37, enthusiastically describes his career, frequently saying "the best part of my job" while describing everything from the police investigators he works with to the families he helps and the people he puts in prison.

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