With 17 years of experience under her belt, attorney Wendy E. Yocum is embarking on a new adventure this year.
In June, she took on an assistant public defender role in the Monett office of the Missouri Public Defender System. But she’s not a newcomer to the public legal system, where she’s made her mark assisting indigent individuals.
A year after earning her juris doctor degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law, Yocum took a job as assistant city attorney in Neosho. Four years later, Yocum rose to assistant prosecuting attorney for Newton County.
The criminal defense attorney more recently spent 12 years in private practice as a partner in Springfield law firm Twibell, Johnson, Johnson & Yocum, and Neosho firms Wendy E. Garrison PC and Wells & Garrison PC.
Her latest career move takes Yocum back into the public law field, where she has accomplished her proudest moment in law.
“I make an effort to encourage my clients through the public defender system to improve their lives,” Yocum says. “It is especially rewarding when I have the opportunity to keep a client from having a criminal conviction, and they go on to better their lives.”
In one such case at the state appellate level, Yocum’s efforts reversed a trial court decision, allowing her client to relocate with her child across state lines to live with her new husband.
“The courts had previously allowed in-state relocations within a radius of approximately 75 miles or less. This relocation was less than 50 miles but involved a move to another state,” Yocum explains. “The case established a new precedent for families living close to state lines, with divorced parents residing in different adjacent states.”
The state public defender system has been stressed with the roughly 350 staff lawyers working nearly 90,000 cases a year in district offices throughout Missouri, according to www.publicdefender.mo.gov
. The public defender system welcomes such zealous advocates as Yocum to work on behalf of citizens accused or convicted of crimes without the necessary resources to defend themselves.
“In my career as an attorney, I have strived to establish a reputation in the community that gives the public a positive opinion of the legal field,” she says. “I have accomplished this by regularly accepting pro bono cases and devoting my time to assisting indigent individuals.”
A member of the Springfield and Missouri bar associations, Yocum also invests in the community through nonprofit and fundraising volunteer work for such agencies as Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Springfield Symphony, Ozarks Public Television, Women In Need of the Ozarks and Muscular Dystrophy Association. She has participated in the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association/KY3 Call A Lawyer program and is current vice president of the Christian County Bar Association, a position that affords her the opportunity to volunteer at the Nixa Senior Center to assist seniors in health care power of attorneys and health care directives.[[In-content Ad]]