A succession plan already was well underway at Wampler & Passanise Law Office PC when attorney Dee Wampler died in October 2021.
Now, his longtime business partner and mentee, Joseph Passanise, is leading the business into the future with a goal of being one of the top criminal defense law firms in the state.
“I’ve been blessed and graced with an opportunity over the years to learn from my mentor,” Passanise says of Wampler, who first hired him as a runner in 1998. “I hope going forward that I continue to do my best to honor and continue the legacy that he helped build over all these years.”
Passanise has 25 years of experience as a lawyer under his belt, all spent at the same firm.
He took over majority ownership of the firm several years ago in preparation for Wampler’s retirement. Passanise is now in the process of finalizing the last phase of the ownership transition after Wampler’s sudden death at age 81. He says he plans to keep the name of Wampler & Passanise Law Office to honor the legacy of the firm.
Learning from Wampler, Passanise says the strength of the law firm comes down to the success of its people. To that end, Taylon Sumners, the only other lawyer currently working at Wampler & Passanise, is on a similar career growth path that Passanise took.
“Hopefully, we continue to grow and keep building the reputation of being good lawyers that have a reputation for working hard,” Passanise says. “One of the things that Dee emphasized and taught me over the many years is that it’s those around you that help make you look good in the handling of a case, but it is also those around you that contribute to the overall success of the firm.
“I am fortunate to have quality individuals around me that have a strong work ethic.”
Passanise and the firm often gather accolades. In 2021, for example, Wampler & Passanise was named a Tier 1 firm for Criminal Defense: General Practice and DUI/DWI Defense and Tier 2 for Criminal Defense: White-Collar in Missouri by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. It was the seventh consecutive recognition for the firm. Additionally, Passanise was named to Best Lawyers in America 2022 for Criminal Defense: General Practice and Criminal Defense: White-Collar and DUI/DWI Defense, and Springfield Lawyer of the Year for Criminal Defense: White-Collar.
Looking back at his career, Passanise points to a couple of highlights: a high-profile case in Washington, D.C., involving 24 defendants under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and representation of John Gotti when he was staying in the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield.
Mercy Springfield Communities relocated a clinic; San Clemente, California-based law firm Gilson Daub Inc. expanded to the Springfield market; and a second video gaming center for Contender eSports Springfield LLC opened in the Queen City.