William Joseph Bearden, MO#69676
Joe Bearden is a general practice attorney focusing on criminal and consumer law. He is relatively new to the practice of law, working with his now-wife Jovanna when she moved her firm to Bates County in 2012 while they were dating. He was a teacher by trade, but when he saw how much Jovanna did as an attorney to help people, he went to law school at UMKC.
Mr. Bearden was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 2017. He earned his Juris Doctor with Public Service Honors in 2016 from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in just 2 1/2 years, then passed the bar exam among the top few percent nationally. He served as a clerk for Judge Debra Hopkins, Bates County Associate Circuit Judge, Judge Jim Journey, the Circuit Judge of the 27th Circuit, Hugh Jenkins, the Bates County Prosecutor, and the Attorney General of Missouri.
In early 2016, Mr. Bearden was honored to publish through the American Bar Association’s journal, The Urban Lawyer, a paper entitled “Employing the Prima Facie Standard in Third-Party Debt Collection Default Judgments.” The article is about as exciting as it sounds, but his professors were impressed enough by the effort to award him top honors: the Candler S. Rogers award, “given annually to the student who submits the most outstanding work of legal writing to the UMKC Law Review.”
The Bearden’s turned down an offer to work with one of the nation’s preeminent consumer law firms in Chicago, preferring to live and serve in Bates County. They have partnered to create Bearden Law, a successor to Longo Law Firm, Jovanna’s practice under her maiden name. Under the Bearden Law name, they have already helped hundreds of clients, many of whom would not otherwise be able to afford legal representation. Joe Bearden serves on the Bates County Treatment Court as the defense advocate, and both Joe and Jovanna helped found Lily’s House, Bates County’s crisis center for women and children, as program director and communications director respectively. Both work with the Missouri Public Defender and the 27th Circuit Juvenile Office as appointed counsel. Joe was recently inducted into the Adrian Optimist Club, and also serves as a mentor with the Bates County Robotics Club and the Electric City Downtown Economic Development Committee in Butler.
Earlier in his career, Joe studied Music Education and Biology at Mississippi State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2000. He lived abroad in Kyiv, Ukraine, teaching students from all over the world at the prestigious Kyiv International School, including the children of diplomats, service members, mafia, and business leaders. While there, he studied opera at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Kyiv under the National Artist of Ukraine, Viktor Nikolaevich Kurin. He went on to study theatre, Slavic studies, and choir conducting at the University of Kansas, graduating with a Masters of Music in 2012.
The Bearden’s have lived all over the place and have never found a place where people have their heads on as straight and love Christ as they do here in western Missouri. They have decided to make Bates County their permanent home.