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Joe M. Fears

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Professional Biography

Born August 23, 1955 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Joe is a shareholder of the Firm. After attending Westark Community College in Fort Smith, he graduated in 1977 from Northeastern Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration. He then attended Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, receiving the J.D. in 1980. Returning to Oklahoma after graduation, he has practiced law in Tulsa ever since.

The first years of Mr. Fears’ career involved mainly civil litigation, with the bulk of his practice involving representation of Class I railroad companies defending personal injury cases. At this stage, he gained extensive experience in both pretrial and trial aspects of litigation in both state and federal courts. Since joining Barber & Bartz, Mr. Fears has dealt mainly with business and contract-related litigation. He also handles a significant amount of the firm’s legal research, briefing and motion practice, and appellate work in a wide variety of cases.

Mr. Fears served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1993 and 1996. He is a member of the Oklahoma and Tulsa County Bar Associations and the Cherokee Nation Bar Association. He is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state courts and administrative agencies. He is also licensed to practice before the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma; and the United States Courts of Appeal for the Tenth and Fifth Circuits.

Personal Biography

I do not come from a family with a “legal” tradition. I was raised on a farm in extreme eastern Oklahoma, and am the only non-school teacher in my family. I was attracted to the practice of law in elementary school when I got hold of an old business law book and started reading the different kinds of problems people encountered which had legal solutions. I suppose variety is still one of the aspects of practicing law that keeps it interesting for me.

In 1988 I married Rhonda, my pastor’s daughter, and we have four children: William, Hannah, Ruth, and Caden.  As might be expected, much of our time revolves around our children’s activities.  We are charter members of Evergreen Baptist Church in Tulsa, where I am on the Board of Trustees.  I teach various adult classes in the Sunday School.  I have taught youth and adult Bible classes since the mid-1970s.  Rhonda has worked with AWANA and other children’s ministries.

My hobbies are attending my children’s activities (naturally!) and exploring history. I am a Past Camp Commander (PCC) of the Indian Nations Camp #3, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. My interest in the Civil War is focused on its impact in Northwest Arkansas and the Indian Territory. This facet of the war isn’t commonly taught; few people know how the Civil War ravaged this region, or that there was a Civil War battle right here in Tulsa County. My long-term aim is to publish either a nonfiction book or novel dealing with this subject; I have written drafts of both. I also enjoy exploring Biblical history in connection with my teaching at church. I have written a curriculum for a six-month course in the historical background of the Old Testament, and have done some work on a similar course for the New Testament and Intertestamental period.

I am a mixed-blood citizen of the Cherokee Nation.  The farm where I grew up is situated in a valley community that has, since 1828, been home to a significant number of full-blood and mixed-blood Cherokees. My grandmother graduated from the Cherokee Female Seminary and taught in the Cherokee school system prior to statehood; one of her uncles was a justice of the Cherokee Supreme Court and a member of the last pre-statehood tribal legislature.

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