"I really subscribed to the theory one person can make a difference. It's unfortunate that people in public service are sometimes so castigated," he said.
Around the same time, Morrisey made his first run for public office, an unsuccessful 2000 bid for the Republican nomination for New Jersey's 7th Congressional District seat.
He continued working for the House Energy and Commerce Committee until 2004, when he became a partner at Sidley Austin, one of the nation's largest law firms.
He joined another large law firm in 2010, the Atlanta-Based King and Spalding, as co-chairman of the firm's health care and life sciences practice. At that job, Morrisey had over 200 health care lawyers under his command.
He resigned from that job in June 2012 to focus on his campaign for West Virginia's attorney general.
"When you care about something deeply and you're interested in public service, you should be willing to take a risk," he said.
A West Virginian
Morrisey did not become a West Virginia resident until he was in his mid-30s.
By 2006, the hard-working, well-traveled lawyer was ready to put down roots. He says he could not think of anywhere else he would rather live than the Mountain State, so he purchased a hilltop home in Harpers Ferry.
He had traveled through the state many times and was struck by its beauty. He fell in love with the Harpers Ferry area, which was close enough to Washington, D.C. that Morrisey could keep his big-city job and still enjoy a home among the hills.
Morrisey soon became involved in his adopted community, writing a column for the local Spirit of Jefferson newspaper and joining a campaign to restore Harper's Ferry's historic Potomac Street.
He married his wife, Denise, a health care lobbyist, in 2008. The couple had met years earlier when Morrisey was working for the House of Representatives. They were just friends at first but eventually started dating.
The couple kept a residence in Washington during that time, for days when the workday didn't leave enough time for a commute. Still, Morrisey said he tried to make it back to West Virginia as often as he could.
"Every day you could spend in West Virginia was a cherished day. I never wanted to be part of the rat race," he said. "It's not where you were born; it's where you decide to live."
Morrisey's move to West Virginia was the subject of much political scrutiny after he filed to run against longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw in January 2012.
McGraw is a lifelong West Virginian, deeply entrenched in state politics. Morrisey's opponents accused him of being a carpetbagger, an opportunist and worse.
The new attorney general believes the issue was largely driven by the state's news media, however. He said making an issue of his residency is "an absurdity."
"West Virginians are good people. They're not xenophobic people. The fact is, we had a tremendous reception from people from all over the state. They cared about why you were running," he said.
It was a close race. McGraw was a Democrat candidate in a highly Democratic, if conservative, state. The longtime attorney general, who also was a state Supreme Court justice earlier in his career, also had a lot of name recognition and Morrisey had nearly none.
Morrisey raised $545,000 for his campaign but put $1.45 million of his own money into the pot. He originally planned to spend about $1.2 million on the endeavor but loaned the campaign an extra quarter-million dollars in the last days before the election because it looked like McGraw was going to pull ahead.
"I didn't resign my job to lose," he said.
In the end, Morrisey won by 16,000 votes and a few percentage points.
The work begins
Morrisey got the keys to the attorney general's office on the morning of Jan. 14. A few hours later, he stood on the state Capitol steps alongside the state's other elected officials to take his oath of office.
There was little time for celebration, however. Morrisey said his staff immediately set to work on "boring" managerial procedures, developing a centralized docket system (which McGraw's administration lacked), creating a system for hiring outside counsel through a bidding system and reviewing the office's computer systems.
Some nights, staffers worked into the wee hours, only to come back a short time later for the start of another day.
"We're putting in some long hours, trying to develop a basic organizational structure," he said. "You want to run the railroad the right way."
All that work has left little time for personal matters, however, like finding the attorney general somewhere in Charleston to live. Morrisey has been staying with friends for a while but is looking for an apartment until he can find a more permanent residence.
He plans to spend his weekends in Harpers Ferry as often as possible. Denise will split her time between Harpers Ferry and Alexandria, Va., where her daughter, Julia, attends high school.
"We're not going to tear the family apart for some political narrative," he said.
Morrisey also isn't thinking much about the political narrative of "Republican attorney general." He said he's not concerned with being a good Republican, just a good attorney general.
"We're going to act without regard to political affiliation. We're going to treat everyone fairly in regard to the law," he said." "People who know me know I don't put party first."
Morrisey has repeatedly said he wants to create the "best law firm in the state."
"I think we're going to make West Virginia proud," he said.