Attorney Michele F. Murphy, RN, MSN earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, and her Master of Science in Nursing from Yale University. She practiced as a Newborn ICU nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and as a community health nurse in western Connecticut. In that role, she often wished she could effect more positive, holistic change in the lives of her patients. As a result, she became a lawyer to advocate for the sensitive needs of seniors and disabled persons. Michele earned her Juris Doctor from Pace University School of Law in 1988. Michele has been practicing Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate Law ever since, including advocacy for the rights of mentally and physically disabled persons from the Probate Courts to the Connecticut Supreme Court. She has extended her advocacy to important public causes as well, including testifying before the Connecticut legislature in a successful effort to increase the state’s bone marrow donor pool. Michele is an accredited attorney with Veterans Affairs. Michele represents clients regarding selection of appropriate housing, plans for declining health, conservatorship, Medicaid and VA Aid & Attendance eligibility, and probate litigation.
Why a Registered Nurse Founded Our Firm:
As a visiting nurse in western Connecticut in the early 1980s, Michele F. Murphy, RN, MSN cared for patients in the community whose needs extended far beyond nursing care. She assessed first-hand how seniors and disabled persons without a knowledgeable advocate “fell through the cracks”. Each one seemed to have a problem which prevented them from thriving and maximizing their quality of life. The situations included living in inappropriate conditions, lacking a responsible party, foregoing available benefits, lack of proper health insurance, violations of residents’ rights, financial exploitation, abuse and neglect, and lack of collaboration between health care providers, therapists, pharmacists, social workers, etc. Michele wanted to help them more than just as patients. She wanted to help them as people. She wanted to empower them to discover all the benefits available to them, navigate the system to obtain those benefits, coordinate the roles of providers in all the relevant disciplines, get them properly insured, and advocate for their needs. Michele believed that, as a lawyer, she could more holistically assess their full range of needs and effect fundamental and sustainable change. By doing so, she hoped to help the most vulnerable preserve their dignity, health, functionality, and independence. Having never heard the term Elder Law, she heard the calling that led her to it, and went to law school.
Shortly after Michele was admitted to the Connecticut bar, a local probate judge, who was intrigued by Michele’s integration of nursing and law, appointed Michele as conservator for Edith, an elderly woman in Danbury who was living far below her potential due to dementia and lack of an advocate. As Edith’s responsible party, Michele was able to access the information necessary to assess Edith’s needs, and to implement the changes necessary to enable her to thrive. And thrive she did! Michele was appointed as conservator for another elderly lady, then an elderly gentleman, then others. Over the following decade, as the local probate courts and network of local senior service providers became aware of the power of Michele’s specialized approach, she was appointed conservator for more than one hundred elderly and disabled persons throughout western Connecticut. In those positions, Michele felt a duty to respect each person’s individuality and to maintain each person’s independence as long as possible, and therefore to provide the necessary supports for community living (before assisted living was even an option). As conservator for so many people, Michele had to learn public benefits eligibility criteria, relevant housing options, issues regarding proper health insurance, sustainable home care, geriatric care management, surrogate decision-making, and related court processes. Michele was gratified throughout her early years to see that the proper management of the necessary disciplines and processes did in fact enable her clients to improve their quality of life, sometimes extending their very lives. The power to change people’s lives remains the driving force behind “holistic empowerment”, which inspires everything our firm does today.