Upon starting at Neale & Newman LLP in 2011, Melissa Bade followed her passion to establish an adoption practice, which previously didn’t exist at the law firm.
It’s a goal the attorney achieved at the firm, founded in 1903, as she took the initiative to attend seminars and research adoption law. She now represents clients needing assistance with stepparent, local, interstate and foreign adoptions.
“As a mother, helping other women fulfill their dreams of motherhood while simultaneously helping children find loving homes tops my priority list,” she says.
Bade recently cross another goal off her list. She was named partner at Neale & Newman effective Jan. 1, 2020. She sees her role as one that can inspire others seeking a balance in parenthood and professional goals. She was the first female attorney to have a child while employed at Neale & Newman and helped craft the organization’s maternity policy.
“I believe it paves a way for female attorneys that come after me at Neale & Newman, as well as provides them a role model and support service in the office,” she says.
Bade practices primarily in the areas of dissolutions, child custody disputes and guardianships.
Bryan Fisher, who is both a colleague and a fellow graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law, says Bade is one of the few attorneys in the area that frequently, and successfully, represents clients wanting to adopt children.
“She also regularly represents individuals as they struggle through one of the most difficult times in their lives – divorce and custody disputes,” he says. “Melissa Bade is an impressive advocate and attorney for her clients’ best interests.”
Not content to just focus on her own work in the firm, Bade has helped organize and develop a mentoring program and inclusive culture for younger associates. That includes associate meetings to discuss business development, client and practice management, and answering legal questions regarding specific cases.
Her mentoring also has extended outside the office through past volunteering efforts at Robberson Community School. Via Junior League of Springfield, Bade met with school families to help serve dinner and facilitate discussions on topics ranging from financial planning to anger management.
“Our goal was to equip them with life tools to be successful employees, parents, spouses and members of the Springfield community,” she says.
Bade is particularly proud of her work with Junior League, of which she has been a member since 2012. She’s a past chairwoman of Charity Ball, its largest fundraiser.
“The league is dedicated to volunteerism and its focus is the prevention of child abuse and neglect,” she says. “I can’t think of anything more worthy of my time and energy.”
Still, Bade finds time to volunteer with Dynamic Strides Therapy Inc. and Springfield Catholic Schools Alumni Board. She also devotes attention toward organizations within her industry, serving as a member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, Missouri Bar Association and Young Lawyers Association.
The congregation at Crossway Baptist Church is building a children’s wing at the west end of the church, and beginning in 2024, it will be home to a Christian academy.