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Craig Steven O’Dear, The Story of an Athlete Becoming a High Profile Lawyer




Being a lawyer is difficult. It is a huge responsibility since their arguments can determine the fate of large amounts of money, and who goes to jail or goes free. It requires dedication, hard work, and endless hours. Few have achieved the highest ranks of the profession, but Craig Steven O’Dear is among those few who have done so.

An American lawyer, Craig Steven O’Dear, is a corporate litigator and legal advisor who has managed to establish himself as one of the finest corporate trial lawyers in the country. Due to his passion and hard work, he has been consistently recognized for his efforts in The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers since 2006.


Born on June 26, 1957, in Northeast Missouri, Craig S. O’Dear is the son of H.C. O’Dear and Martha Lou O’Dear. His father was a farmer while his mother was a school teacher. He spent his childhood on a hog farm south of Lewistown, where he completed his high school education. 

Craig was an accomplished athlete in high school. He was a prominent basketball player and track athlete and played quarterback on the first-ever Highland High School football team. His parents were very proud and kept records of his athletic years. His father drove him to play basketball with the  Quincy  Herald-Whig publisher’s kids on a  YMCA  team, beginning in the fourth grade, every Saturday.

When Craig was a student, the school only offered a basketball program, and there was no football program. Craig’s father was a member of the school board. He, along with other local leaders, decided to start a football program. Coach Pat Wozniak was hired as the first football coach.

Coach Wozniak formed the first football team of the school comprising the school’s star basketball players and farm boys who had never played organized sports. Wozniak led the team to a 9-0 record in their first year, acknowledging the efforts of the young and confident athlete, Craig O’Dear. The coach said, “Without the quarterback, that wouldn’t have been possible to have that record. That was a big, strong, smart kid.” He graduated from Highland High School in Ewing, Missouri.

Craig’s success in football, basketball, and track in high school landed him a football scholarship at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. O’Dear played football and ran track at the university while pursuing an engineering education. He graduated with an engineering degree in 1979.

Apart from having a stellar background in sports, his father paid for Craig’s flight lessons, and also encouraged him to learn to fly. As of today, Craig has been a private pilot for 30 years!


Upon realizing that he had a keen interest in law, he skipped continuing the engineering field and attended Vanderbilt University Law School on scholarship. In 1982, he graduated with a law degree.

The same year he graduated, Craig went to Stinson Mag & Fizzell. He was recruited by David Everson, who praised Craig’s confidence. In a year, Craig was given the opportunity of defending Hallmark Cards Inc. and other defendants in the Hyatt Skywalk Collapse. Craig had to defend his clients against a $1.5 million claim of post-traumatic stress disorder from the opposing party.  The trial gave Craig’s career the boost it needed, and he had successfully started paving his way to a thriving career.

1988 brought Craig to a law firm headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, where he became a partner in 1990. Craig supported the non-profit organization that exonerates wrongfully convicted people, the Midwest Innocence Project, where he has been serving on the advisory board.

Mr. O’Dear’s accomplishments have been recognized in many publications. He was recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal as “Best of the Bar” in business and product liability litigation multiple times. He was also featured in the ‘Best Lawyers in America,’ Chambers USA, Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyer numerous times since 2006. Benchmark Litigation, named Craig, a ‘Missouri Litigation Star’ and the Lawdragon magazine named O’Dear, one of the Top 500 Leading Litigators in America in 2006.

In January 2018, Craig ran for Senate against Democrat incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. He stood in the elections as an independent candidate, and a part of a Denver-based national movement of independents called Unite America and refused to caucus with either party if he would be elected. Even though O’Dear lost the election, he gained recognition by various notable personalities as an American politician because of his determination.

Today, Craig S. O’Dear lives with his family, his wife, Stephanie, in Kansas City. They have three children, daughter Sydney, and sons Cullen and Cormac.

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

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From Contracts to Counsel: Your Essential Guide to Hiring a Probate Attorney in Chicago




Like many people, you’ll come across the term probate after a loved one, such as a parent or spouse, passes away. So, what is probate, and why do you need an attorney for it? As defined in Forbes, probate is a legal process that occurs after death. It entails transferring the assets of the decedent (the person who passed) to beneficiaries named in their last will. 

With that in mind, having a probate lawyer by your side is essential. The last thing you want to do is deal with the legal complexities of settling a loved one’s estate while grieving. A probate lawyer oversees the validation of the deceased’s will and the fair distribution of assets among family members. One challenge lies in finding a top-quality probate lawyer.

In this guide to hiring a probate attorney in Chicago, we’ll discuss the tips to identify the right legal professional for probate proceedings. 

Understand the Responsibilities of a Probate Lawyer

It’s difficult to hire a talented probate lawyer when you don’t know what they do: Start by understanding the roles they play. 

When you work with a Chicago probate lawyer, some tasks they might do include: 

  • Act as an estate executor or administrator 
  • Collect proceeds from the life insurance policies of the deceased
  • Identify and secure the decedent’s assets
  • Get an appraisal for the deceased’s estate
  • Pay debts and resolve estate tax issues
  • Prepare and file documents required in probate court
  • Transfer assets to rightful heirs
  • Represent you in litigation proceedings if someone challenges or contests the will

A probate lawyer could also help you and your family navigate state inheritance laws if a loved one dies without a valid will. That way, you can avoid unnecessary taxes or other ramifications of not creating a will, such as losing ownership rights of the deceased’s business or financial support.

Search for Lawyers Online and Offline

You’re probably thinking, where do I find the best lawyer to hire? You could seek referrals from friends or colleagues. Friends who worked with probate attorneys before might provide important details, such as how the lawyers communicate and handle the probate process. 

Alternatively, do a simple online search using the terms “probate lawyer near me” or “probate attorney in Chicago.” Go through various websites or online directories and write names of lawyers with positive ratings and customer testimonials. Then, contact the potential lawyers to set up free consultations. Note that not all legal professionals offer free consultations, so make sure to ask before setting a time in your calendar. 

Ask the Right Questions

A free consultation provides opportunities to ask questions to better understand if the lawyers in question have the qualifications to handle your probate case. 

Four questions you might ask attorneys during the initial meeting may include:

  1. Do You Have Experience in Probate Law? 

When evaluating lawyers, prioritize experience. An experienced probate lawyer is aware of common pitfalls that can result in the probate petition being postponed or dropped by a judge. To feel more comfortable about an attorney’s expertise, ask them if they’ve handled probate cases similar to yours before. 

For example, let’s say the deceased owned a substantial estate or had complicated assets like royalties and mineral stocks. Working with an attorney with a track record of successfully handling cases like that could save you time and money in the long run.

  1. What Do Other Clients Say About You?

Experience alone doesn’t make a probate lawyer perfect for your case. Look for someone with an outstanding reputation. These reviews likely live on Google next to their business profile or are featured on their website. If you can’t find any endorsements, ask for testimonials written by past clients. 

One point to focus on is what reviewers say about the lawyer’s efficiency and speed. Beyond that, does the lawyer offer expert guidance, conflict mitigation, and proper asset management during probate? 

A probate attorney in Chicago, IL, should be an efficient expert in asset preservation. This can be crucial to helping avoid hefty taxes and excessive debt claims. Additionally, if the lawyer receives positive feedback on conflict mitigation, it suggests they have experience in resolving or mitigating family conflicts that tend to stall the probate process. 

  1. How Long Does Probate Last? 

One way to test a probate lawyer’s knowledge is by asking them, “How long does probate last?” While the numbers vary, probate can last for a few months to over a year in many states, including Chicago. When highlighting factors that affect the duration of probate, your counsel might mention things like estate size, family disputes, debt and taxes, absence of a will, and state laws.

A knowledgeable lawyer can explain clearly why your probate case could last a few months or even years. A lawyer that makes too brazen or hard-set of promises might not be the most honest. 

  1. How Do You Want Us To Communicate? 

There’s no hard rule on how you and your probate attorney communicate. You can talk via text messages, email, video calls, or phone calls. More importantly, check that the attorney communicates in simple language to help you understand your case. 

In fact, one essential of a lawyer’s dos and don’ts to gaining clients’ trust is to avoid making clients feel clueless. If a potential lawyer uses complex legal terms or avoids communicating directly, search for probate services elsewhere.

Conclusion: Finding a Probate Attorney in Chicago

Reviewing the will of a loved one after their death and ensuring fair distribution of their assets often involves complex legal issues. For this reason, consider hiring an attorney who specializes in probate law. 

To maximize your chances of finding the right probate lawyer, familiarize yourself with their responsibilities. Next, search online for lawyers within your state or ask for recommendations from people you trust. Then, interview prospects to help ensure they possess experience, a remarkable reputation, communication skills, and knowledge of probate law.

Settling the affairs of a loved one who has passed on can be an overwhelming time. A probate attorney can help lift some of the pressure off your shoulders as you focus on grieving and healing. 

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