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Murn skis into successful law career

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

Don Murn was a competitive water skier when he began working as a clerk at a law firm.

And, when he graduated law school, he really hoped he’d be able to join them as an attorney.

Until he heard their offer.

“They said, ‘$18,000 a year, work weekends, no benefits and give up water skiing.’ That was to be an associate. In college, I was also a painter. I made $15,000 a summer painting houses and apartment buildings. I had two crews. And I could water ski.”

So, when a friend suggested Murn go to work with his father, attorney Frank Murn, it seemed perfectly reasonable. He had no idea it would change his life.

“He’s one of the reasons I’m successful,” Murn said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am.”

Murn spent three years with his father — “He kept working just to get me started. He was wonderful that way,” Murn said — taking, basically, “anything that walked in the door with a checkbook and a pulse.”

Murn went solo in 1988, then in 1993 joined what became Bode Carrol Schroeder and Murn. The firm expanded to 12 attorneys before Murn left to go solo again in 1995. By 2000, he had formed Murn and Martin, which expanded to 10 attorneys before it merged with Axley Brynelson in 2012.

“I was wearing all the hats. I owned the building, so I was changing light bulbs. I was fixing problems. I thought my head was going to spin off, and I just wanted to practice law, so I joined Axley,” said Murn, now a partner at the firm.

Part of his work involves litigation, something he spent years doing.

“I used to love litigation and used to do a lot of litigation, but I pick and choose my litigation now because very rarely is there a clear-cut winner. There’s always an emotional or monetary price to be paid. That’s the justice system, but it’s not justice; it’s problem resolution.”

These days, Murn spends most of his time on real estate and estate planning.

“I enjoy helping people,” he said. “I enjoy someone calling me up with a tough and hard problem and taking that off their shoulders and letting them sleep at night,” he said.

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