Sean Murphy, J.D., Vice President for Advocacy and General Counsel at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), honored with 2019 In-House Counsel Award

Sean Murphy, J.D., Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), was honored with a 2019 In-House Counsel Award by the Missouri Lawyers Media on Nov. 8.

Murphy was recognized for his successes in navigating complicated dental laws, steering advocacy efforts, and overseeing the AAO’s legal and advocacy activities. Honorees included Missouri attorneys from a broad range of industries and organizations operating throughout the state.

“We’re lucky to have award-winning staff like Sean promoting the specialty of orthodontics and advocating for members at the American Association of Orthodontists,” said Dr. Gary O. Inman, AAO President.

This award was the second recognition for Murphy this year. He received the 2019 Leading Association Lobbyist Award by Association Trends earlier this year. The Leading Lobbyists Award annually goes to a class of outstanding executives like Murphy who help to accomplish their organization’s advocacy and grassroots initiatives.

Murphy’s role at the AAO includes advocacy efforts involving federal and state laws and regulations that impact orthodontists, their practices, and their patients. Also, as the in-house lawyer for the 119-year-old organization with more than 19,000 members, he handles issues ranging from contract negotiations to governance.

“It’s monitoring the landscape for the industry and definitely being a unified voice for the profession when it comes to some of those changes within the industry,” Murphy said. “It’s also the day-to-day legal work that any organization would experience.”  In addition, Murphy serves as a spokesman for the association.

Murphy joined the association in January 2016 and was promoted to general counsel last November. Like many in-house attorneys, Murphy says he likes being able to view the association’s issues from the inside out and knowing how legal issues will affect the organization or the profession.

“Orthodontists are great at doing orthodontics,” he said. “But a lot of them aren’t lawyers. A lot of them have limited experience in terms of governmental affairs, in terms of drafting legislation or regulations. To be able to help with that aspect is really rewarding.”

Murphy received his bachelor’s degree from Augustana College (Rock Island, IL) with a triple major in Biology, Public Administration and Political Science, and his law degree and health law certificate from Saint Louis University School of Law, which is frequently ranked as the top health law program in the country. Prior to joining the AAO, Murphy was a business litigator for seven years at a national law firm, Thompson Coburn LLP (with offices in St. Louis, Chicago, DC, and LA). As a litigator, he was selected to the 2014 and 2015 Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars Lists and was selected to the 2012 Missouri Bar Pro Bono Hall of Fame. Murphy is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois.

The American Association of Orthodontists represents 19,000 orthodontist members throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. Founded in 1900, AAO is the world’s oldest and largest dental specialty organization. AAO is dedicated to, among other goals: (a) ethically advancing the art and science of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics worldwide; (b) improving the health of the public by promoting quality orthodontic care, the importance of overall oral healthcare, and advocating for the public interest; and (c) educating the public about the benefits of orthodontic treatment and the educational qualifications of orthodontic specialists. For more information, visit

Media Contact

Katie Maassen, AAO Director of Marketing & Communications,