Mary M. Bearden

Attorney Profile

Mary M. Bearden

  • Bar Memberships
    • Amarillo Area Bar Association
    • State Bar of Texas
  • Board Certified in Health Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • J.D. University of Texas School of Law (1980) (honors)
  • B.A. University of Texas (1972) (high honors)
  • Born: Pampa, Texas

Contact Mary M. Bearden


Mary Bearden joined Brown & Fortunato, where she is a shareholder, after practicing law for 25 years in the large-firm setting in Houston.

Mary is board certified in Health Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a former chair of the Health Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. She has spent her entire legal career representing hospitals and other providers in the health care industry.

Knowledgeable in the various conditions of participation as well as the standards of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) and other accrediting organizations, Mary often assists clients in preparing for surveys or responding to complaint or validation surveys. She also helps clients as they respond to state licensure and Medicare certification deficiencies. Clients frequently seek Mary’s advice in preparing policies and procedures to document their compliance with applicable regulations or standards.

On a daily basis, Mary advises clients on compliance with the multiple federal and state laws that impact the health care industry. She frequently prepares advisory memoranda and opinion letters on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA), the privacy regulations in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and a variety of other federal and state laws. Clients often call upon Mary to assist them in responding to issues involving advance directives and informed consent.

Mary’s practice can frequently be described as one of “crisis management.” Clients who need immediate assistance in dealing with state and federal regulators call on Mary to assist them in responding to investigations, subpoenas, and other inquiries from the government. Mary is well-acquainted with representatives of various state and federal agencies; thus, she is generally able to expedite a client’s ability to respond to issues of concern.

A trained mediator and an experienced hearing officer in peer review matters, Mary’s practice encompasses the issues that are raised as a result of the relationship between hospitals and physicians. Mary frequently serves as counsel in peer review hearings, sometimes representing the medical executive committee and other times serving as counsel to the governing board, the hearing committee, or the hospital. She advises clients in credentialing issues and reporting obligations when a practitioner may need to be reported to a state board or the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Mary also has a broad range of experience in advising clients on the development or revision of medical staff bylaws, rules and regulations, fair hearing plans, and grievance procedures. She frequently prepares quality management documents to assist clients in dealing with medical staff matters.

The drafting, revision, and negotiation of all types of contracts fills much of Mary’s time in her legal practice. She is well-versed in issues involving provider-based contracts, managed care arrangements, physician employment agreements, recruiting arrangements, and other areas of the health care industry that require parties to document their agreements in writing.

Mary obtained her undergraduate degree with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin. Mary continued her academic success at The University of Texas School of Law, where she graduated with honors.

Mary is an accomplished writer and frequent speaker at health care conferences sponsored by hospital associations, law schools, physician organizations, risk management associations, managed care associations, health care information associations and health care consultants. She has been listed in Best Attorneys in America for the last ten years. From 2003 – 2011, 2013 and in 2016, Mary was designated as a Texas Super Lawyer in Health Care Law.  Super Lawyers is a Thomson Reuters service.  Mary is an active member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the Health Law Section of the American Bar Association.

Mary is from West Texas. She is married to Sterling Adams and they enjoy traveling.