Our Story

We believe your goals and opportunities shouldn’t be held hostage by one mistake.
You can rely on us to pursue all legal options as we work to protect your future.

From the time he was five years old, Joe Passanise knew he wanted to be a lawyer. He just didn’t know what type of law he wanted to practice. In the late 1980s, Passanise became a runner for Wampler, Wampler & Catt while a student at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State). The firm had been originally founded in 1973 by attorney Dee Wampler and his father Homer. In 1982, Larry Catt joined the two, and they chose to specialize in criminal defense, which wasn’t the norm for law firms then.  

Passanise was given the opportunity to help investigate cases and handle communications between the firm, prosecutors, and the courthouse. He learned the legal and operations sides of the business from his friend and mentor, Dee Wampler. The mentor had established himself as a leader in criminal defense after serving as the Prosecuting Attorney for Greene County. In fact, Wampler was one of the youngest prosecutors ever elected to that position.  

Wampler taught Passanise how attorneys can positively impact a client’s life. Those facing charges are often dealing with underlying problems like addiction and mental health issues. The firm strived to make a difference in the lives of its clients.  

After law school, Passanise joined as an Associate Attorney. In the early 2000s, he and Dee Wampler decided to create a new practice geared more toward trial work and litigation. In 2002, Wampler & Passanise moved to its current location.

Dee Wampler died suddenly in 2021 while working a trial with Passanise, who was then the Managing Partner, and Sumners, who became an Associate Attorney in 2020. The legacy of helping individuals find positive life outcomes endures and is the firm’s north star. The decades have taught Passanise the value of positive mentorship and is the driving principle behind the law firm’s multi-year partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.  

When residents of the Springfield area and throughout Missouri struggle with serious criminal matters, they turn to the award-winning attorneys at Wampler & Passanise for legal assistance. For decades, our criminal defense firm has provided zealous representation to adults and juveniles charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses.

We believe your goals and opportunities shouldn’t be held hostage by one mistake. You can rely on us to pursue all legal options as we work to protect your future.

To learn more about our attorneys’ legal qualifications and backgrounds, follow these links:

Recognized Nationwide For High-Quality Counsel

Joseph S. Passanise has a deep understanding of state and federal criminal laws. He has successfully represented individuals in a range of matters spanning DWI violations to white collar criminal charges to drug offenses and other serious violations. Trial-tested, he provides high-quality advocacy in municipal, state and federal courts.

Joe Passanise

  • Lifetime Achievement, America’s Top 100 Attorneys
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyer, The National Trial Lawyers, awarded 2007-present
  • Selected for inclusion to the Super Lawyers list in Missouri and Kansas from 2006 to 2019
  • 2018 Lawyer of the Year, Missouri Criminal Defense for white collar defense

Committed To The Community

Longtime resident of the area, Joe works to better the community. He delivers speeches at churches, colleges and professional organizations, discussing social justice and safe practices. Joe volunteers his time at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks and the Theta Chi Iota Beta alumni board of directors.

Our lawyers view their profession as their vocation, striving to improve lives in and out of the criminal justice system. Their experience and local insight can give you an advantage when you are grappling with a challenging legal issue.


For personalized legal guidance, call our office at 417-882-9300 or submit this form to schedule a meeting with an attorney.

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