Champions of Justice: Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske

by Alicia Hernandez

Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske, faithful advocates for the less fortunate, are the 2011-2012 Equal Access Campaign’s lead donors with their gift of $50,000 to this year’s campaign benefitting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

Equality and justice for all are words to live by for Ms. Blue Baron and Mr. Kaeske. Gifted trial attorneys who could seek any calling within the legal profession, Ms. Blue Baron and Mr. Kaeske have dedicated their professional lives to ensuring that all people receive the respect and dignity they deserve regardless of their ability to pay for a lawyer. Their gift to DVAP extends their helping hands and strong convictions about equal access to the working moms, children, elderly, and veterans who would simply be locked out of the justice system but for programs like DVAP and supporters like Ms. Blue Baron and Mr. Kaeske.

Ms. Blue Baron, a long-time supporter of pro bono legal aid to the poor, has donated over $293,000 to DVAP over nearly 20 years. A true believer, financial support is not her only contribution to the program. She uses her Spanish-speaking skills to interview clients at the West Dallas Legal Clinic, teach pro se divorce classes, and help Spanish-speaking clients finalize their family law cases. She also launched Baron and Budd’s pro bono program while she was at the firm.

Baron & Budd was where Ms. Blue Baron and colleague and friend Mike Kaeske first joined forces, devoting their professional lives, along with Blue Baron’s late husband, Fred Baron, to representing seriously injured victims and their families. Mr. Kaeske, like Ms. Blue Baron, developed into a nationally recognized trial attorney who secured significant verdicts for clients suffering from radiation exposure, leukemia and other cancers.

Teaming up again in more recent years, Ms. Blue Baron and Mr. Kaeske have continued their professional endeavors, and, now, they have chosen to extend their collaboration to include a commitment to legal aid to the poor.

“Government funding for legal aid continues to drop while the need for pro bono grows. The poor in our community are counting on lawyers like us to keep access to justice alive,” said Ms. Blue Baron of Baron and Blue.

And Ms. Blue Baron is right. The downward economic cycle that plagues us all has resulted in significant decreases in funding for legal aid to the poor while the poverty population explodes.

Federal funding for legal aid was cut last year and additional cuts loom on the horizon while Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts’ funding and other resources spiral downward. U.S. Census figures released on September 13 indicate that one in six Americans or 46.2 million (15.1 percent) people live in poverty. Revised statistics released on November 9 show a poverty high of 49.1 million or 16 percent of Americans living in poverty, with the main causes being rising medical, commuting, and child care costs. In Dallas, the poverty statistics are even more staggering. Twenty-five percent of people living in Dallas County qualify for free legal help from DVAP.

“DVAP’s mission is our mission—to open doors, right wrongs, and change lives,” said Mike Kaeske of The Kaeske Law Firm. “First and foremost, we want to help people, but we also hope that our gift will inspire others to help too.”

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program is the joint pro bono program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. For more information on the Campaign for Equal Access or the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, please contact Alicia Hernandez at (214) 220-7499 or ahernandez@dallasbar.org. Recognition levels and donor benefits are available at www.dvapcampaign.org. All individual donors at the $1000 level and above and all firm and corporate donors at the $5,000 level and above will be recognized in an ad in the Dallas Morning News during the week of December 20, 2011, and in Texas Lawyer in January or February 2012.

Alicia Hernandez is the director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the DBA director of community services. She can be reached at ahernandez@dallasbar.org.

http://www.dallasbar.org/content/champions-justice-lisa-blue-baron-and-mike-kaeske

Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske Donate $50,000 For Legal Services to the Poor

Lisa Blue Baron, of Baron and Blue, and Mike Kaeske, of the Kaeske Law Firm, announced their gift of $50,000 to the Dallas Bar Association’s 2012 Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefiting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP). The annual Campaign raises funds to provide free legal assistance to low-income Dallas County residents with civil legal needs. This gift is the lead gift to date and is recognized at the highest level of the Campaign—The Champions of Justice.

“Government funding for legal aid continues to drop, while the need for pro bono grows. The poor in our community are counting on lawyers like us to keep access to justice alive,” says Ms. Blue Baron.

“First and foremost, we want to help people, but we also hope that our gift will inspire others,” says Mr. Kaeske. “No matter how great or small a donation, support is needed for DVAP clients. DVAP’s mission is our mission—to open doors, right wrongs and change lives.”

Ms. Blue Baron and Mr. Kaeske are nationally known for their representation of victims of serious injuries. Ms. Blue Baron’s accomplishments in trial courts have been recognized, including being named in the Top 50 Women Litigators in the U.S. by the National Law Journal.

Mr. Kaeske worked closely with Lisa and her late husband, Fred, at Baron & Budd, where he trained as a courtroom trial lawyer. The Kaeske Law Firm has a national practice based in Austin and Dallas, Texas, and Mike continues to devote his professional life to representing seriously injured victims and their families.

“The Dallas Bar Association is thankful for Lisa and Mike’s kindness and generosity,” said Dallas Bar Association President Barry Sorrels. “Lisa has donated not only her time, but she has also encouraged others to support pro bono work. Lisa and Mike’s generosity is far-reaching and we truly appreciate this gift.”

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program is a joint initiative of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. Recognized by the American Bar Association for its exemplary services, DVAP conducts neighborhood clinics each month at four community locations, and provides specialty clinics for veterans and their families, as well as clinics to assist the elderly with wills and other needs. DVAP recruits and trains volunteer attorneys, and provides staff support to volunteers. Each year, DVAP provides free legal assistance to approximately 3,475 families in Dallas County.

http://www.dallasbar.org/content/lisa-blue-baron-and-mike-kaeske-donate-50000-legal-services-poor