FOR THE PUBLIC: Dee Murphy, Grass Valley
My job title: Legal Administrative Analyst in the county Counsel’s Office.
What I do in my job: Provide legal support for all of the county departments and the board of supervisors. When the departments have a question about what they can or cannot do, they turn to our office for advice. Often, I end up researching the laws, cases and opinions that apply to their question, then draft a memo to that office advising what the law states. Our office handles everything from Board of Supervisors’ items to Child and Adult Protective Services, land use and law enforcement issues, litigation, probate, contract and tax matters. In addition, our office provides legal support for some of the fire districts as well as other special districts, so I get to work with employees and board members of those districts, as well. There is a lot of variety in this job.
Why my job is important to the public: Often the research provided by the county Counsel’s Office keeps the county from being sued for unlawful practices, thereby saving taxpayer money. We also defend the county any time a lawsuit is filed against it. We have a great track record of receiving favorable judgments. Better yet is when we are able to have a case dismissed before trial, either voluntarily or because of a motion we filed.
The special skills and talents I bring to my job: I would guess my greatest asset is my 20 years of experience in the office. I have research files on just about every topic imaginable. I also have my paralegal certificate, a pretty good relationship with my computer, and I am flexible with my schedule, always ready to take on whatever needs to be done.
The best part of my job is when: I find the statute or case which answers the question I have been researching. I also love the variety of often not knowing what I will be working on from one day to the next. Best of all are the people I work with. We are not just co-workers; we are friends.
The part of my job that I like least is: Any project that lasts more than three days.
A day of work I’ll always remember: I was on the telephone with a woman who had just called to offer me a job as a paralegal with a private law firm. The county Counsel’s Office was over in the courthouse at that time, and some water pipes in the ceiling had just burst and were pouring water into the office of the former county Counsel, Jim Curtis. Jim was rushing around trying to save all the work on his desk, the secretaries were trying to pull all of the books out of his office, and water was pouring on everyone’s heads. I just thought, “How can I possibly leave a job that is this much fun?” I turned down the job offer and have never regretted it.
How I got my job: I actually started out answering phones for the county Counsel’s Office. I decided to go back to night school and acquire some legal secretarial skills, and moved up the ladder to legal secretary. After a while, one of the attorneys encouraged me to go back to college to become a paralegal. After another couple of years of night school, I received my paralegal credential, and was eventually reclassified to my current position.
How long I’ve been working here: It will be 20 years in September.
My dream job would be: A successful novelist.
My family: My amazing husband, John, and three beautiful girls, Angela, 9; Deanna, 7; and Jessica, 5. We also have a dog, a bunny, two hampsters, and a rat.
My hobbies: I am an avid reader and a certified “gym rat.” I play soccer on a women’s Samba soccer team in the winter months. I am also involved with the children’s bible study program at our church, Abundant Life, and work in my daughters’ classrooms whenever possible.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be the first woman to: Play major league baseball. Unfortunately, I found out I am a lot better at watching baseball than I am at playing baseball.
If money were no object: I would own a huge house and take in as many foster children as possible. I would also hire a lot of live-in help so I could concentrate on the children and not on all the housework, laundry, and cooking. I would also hire a tutor to help them with their math homework because I am really terrible at math.
My dream vacation: Places with sunny beaches, gentle waves, tropical drinks, and room service.
If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: Sandra Bullock (wishful thinking).
The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: My mom and dad, who were devoted, hard-working, loving parents, and Dan Watson, the assistant pastor at our church. Since I grew up here, I want to add my three favorite teachers: Jim Huff and Bill Mitchell at Lyman Gilmore School, and Dave Haut at Nevada Union High School.
My hero: My husband, John, in more ways than I can count.
The best book I’ve read lately was: Actually, a series of books by Carl Hiassen. Carl Hiassen is a columnist for the Miami Herald who writes fiction on the side. His books are witty, twisted, and chaotic.
But he also throws in a lot of fact with his fiction, and he takes a hard look at how uncontrolled development and political corruption have destroyed the Everglades, as well as most of Florida’s coastline.
The soundtrack to my life would include these songs: The soundtrack to “The Big Chill.”
I like living in Nevada County because: My roots are here. My family moved here when I was 4 years old. I can be walking along with my girls and point out places and tell them what I did there when I was their age. Not long ago, I showed them the tree at Memorial Park behind which I received my first kiss on a fifth-grade field trip. The girls love hearing stories about my experiences growing up here, and I think it helps them to feel really connected to this community. I feel so lucky to still be able to live in Grass Valley when so many of my friends have had to move away.
“For the Public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a public servant to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.
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