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Home / Supplements and Special Sections / ICONS / ICON Awards 2021: Joseph Dandurand, Jay Daugherty Mediation & Arbitration

ICON Awards 2021: Joseph Dandurand, Jay Daugherty Mediation & Arbitration

The path to a lifelong legal career isn’t always linear.

Joseph Dandurand In Joe Dandurand’s case, after graduating from Central Missouri State University with a business administration degree, the choice came down to either law school or a corporate auditor’s job with an Audrain County grocery chain— provided the accounting job paid at least $1,000 monthly.

The job offer fell short by 30 bucks, and the would-be corporate accountant instead would go on to serve 21 years as a circuit judge in Cass and Johnson counties; sit on the Missouri Court of Appeals’ Western District; spend eight years as chief deputy attorney general under Chris Koster; and most recently, work nearly five years as executive director for Legal Aid of Western Missouri.

Dandurand, 65, began working this month at the Kansas City mediation and arbitration practice of former Jackson County Circuit Judge Jay Daugherty. He should feel right at home, joining a team whose roster includes several former jurists.

A suburban Chicago native, Dandurand moved with his family to Johnson County as a seventh grader, relocating to Warrensburg when he was in high school.

The UMKC Law graduate spent six years in small-town private practice in Warrensburg with attorney Kirk Rahm, where his roles included contract public defender, city and school board attorney, municipal prosecutor and family law/adoption attorney. He then won election to the 17th Circuit bench just weeks after his 30th birthday — the statutory age minimum to serve as a Missouri Circuit Court judge.

His elevation to the Court of Appeals seemed to continue the trajectory (“I thought I would finish out my career there,” he said, with perhaps a subsequent nod for the state Supreme Court) before former Cass County prosecutor Koster called with an intriguing offer.

Dandurand wound up convinced— but only after the third such call.

“He was persistent,” Dandurand said.

The now-former judge saw his 2017 move to civil legal aid as a continuation of his public service, but the day-to-day reality was an eye-opener.

“There’s no way I could have known what I was getting into when I took this job. I thought I knew what legal aid was about,’ he said. “The breadth of work we do across these 40 counties, and the number of people who need our help, and the variety of cases — I had no idea.”

Judge Mary Sheffield of the Missouri Court of Appeals’ Southern District calls Dandurand a “Renaissance man” with a “quick mind and magnetic personality” who “has never been afraid to make changes, take on new challenges, and move forward.” She hails her friend and colleague as a “natural teacher” and mentor who, despite his many professional accomplishments, remains humble and grounded.

“He has achieved so much in his life, but never at the expense of others,” she said of Dandurand, who with Mary, his wife of 42 years, has three sons and four grandsons, all living in the Kansas City area.

As for the jilted corporate grocer? That job, presumably, was filled.

“I would not want to trade my career for anyone else’s,” Dandurand reflected. “I’ve been fortunate and blessed. It’s sure not what I thought was going to happen when I decided to go to law school because I was short $30 a month on the accounting job.”

ICON Awards 2021