After taking a business law class in high school, a sixteen-year-old Leanne Murphy went home and told her parents that she wanted to be an attorney. Since then, Murphy has accomplished that goal and more throughout a successful career that’s seen her provide legal and business support to companies like Sears, Roebuck and Company; Walgreens; and Walmart.
Today, she makes it her mission to help young professionals accomplish their goals as the executive vice president and general counsel at CPS Solutions LLC. She leads a small but mighty team with a passion for mentorship that drives her to create opportunities for others.
“I like to see a person’s professional development,” Murphy says. “I like to see them starting out and exploring, being a little bit nervous and not knowing which direction to go in, and helping them work through it by letting them know they have the analytical skills to ask the right questions and form solutions.”
She does that by assigning projects to team members that align with their interests, pairing them with experts in the field from whom they can glean insights, and working side-by-side with them on drafts of legal documents and other legal projects. She also shares stories from her own career journey to let them know that, years ago, she was where they are today.
“I think you can learn from a lot of different people and from their stories and not make the [same] mistakes. You don’t have to test the water to see if it’s hot or cold if someone already has,” Murphy says. “Learn from others’ experiences, ask them about challenging situations and how they resolved them, and take that knowledge in.”
Working with early career professionals takes her back to the way she began her career at Sidley Austin LLP, after getting her law degree from John Marshall Law School (now University of Illinois Chicago School of Law). She spent five years advising on M&A, corporate law, and securities matters for the firm’s telecommunications and cellular telephone industry clients.
Murphy learned to work with different kinds of people in stressful situations and on complex issues. She credits much of that success to two mentors, who helped her navigate challenges and were always willing to offer guidance, legal expertise, experience, and a helpful hand.
“Both of them were approachable and were people who I respected, who were learned, and had an open-door policy for answering questions and working through legal issues,” the attorney recalls. “Instead of sitting opposite of me in a desk—in a more authoritarian position—the more senior partner would come around and sit next to me and work through the legal matter. It was different than how many legal leaders now work with junior lawyers but, looking back, I don’t think I could’ve learned any better.”
Murphy continued her development at First Health Group Corporation as a senior attorney before serving in various roles at Sears, Walgreens, and Walmart—experiences that exposed her to a wide variety of domestic and international legal matters in the healthcare and retail industry. In those roles, she developed an expertise in transactional and general business law while advising on areas like litigation, health care regulation, privacy, and intellectual property. The breadth of that experience made her the perfect fit for her current role when the opportunity arose in 2019.
The bulk of her team’s work currently revolves around advising on legal issues relating to providing services to hospital pharmacies in a company that has largely grown over the years through acquisitions. “When you have that sort of situation, you have contracts from company A that’s very different from company B and C, and you have to bring all of that together, make sense of it, and not only look at it from the service perspective but from a variety of other legal areas,” Murphy says.
When she isn’t working on contracts or protecting the companies IP, Murphy mentors her team of six on time management, an effort that has already bore fruit. The group closed over fifteen hundred matters in 2022, despite being one attorney short.
“To finish all of those projects with this size of a legal department and the volume of work we handle each and every day is amazing,” Murphy says. “I teach my team members to keep in mind our ethics and responsibilities to zealously represent our client to the fullest extent of the law on each-and-every project—not just sending something to get it out the door, but to spend the time, do it right, and turn in a product they’re proud of.”
“Leanne is a highly respected and effective leader in the healthcare space. Beyond that she sets a great example as someone deeply committed to the mentoring and development of young legal professionals,” says Megan Thibert-Ind, healthcare litigation partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP. “It’s a pleasure to know her and to collaborate with her and the rest of the CPS team.”
Murphy aims to be a sound, people-oriented, and participative leader, willing to put contracts on a television screen in her office and work through them with junior attorneys, line by line. “I hope that collaboration gives them confidence to walk in my office, lay down a question, put forth a proposal, challenge me on ideas, and challenge us both to work through something,” she says.