Granting Access to Justice: Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske Donate $25,000 to DVAP Campaign
by Alicia Hernandez
Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske do it again! The Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas thank Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske for their $25,000 gift to the 2012-2013 Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefitting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.
Despite being a busy mother of three, trial attorney and much sought after philanthropist, Ms. Blue Baron never forgets to lend her support to equal access to justice. Since 1994, she has donated $318,000 to the campaign, helping to provide legal assistance to scores of needy clients.
Mr. Kaeske, a first-time donor to last year’s Equal Access to Justice Campaign, is a nationally recognized trial attorney whose clients are victims suffering from radiation exposure and cancers. He has stepped up to help DVAP assist working moms, the elderly and veterans with his donation to the campaign.
Donors like Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske make it possible for DVAP’s outstanding group of volunteer attorneys to assist thousands of clients every year. These are volunteer attorneys who assist knowing from the get-go that they will not be paid for their time and legal talents. Instead, they will receive the satisfaction of knowing that they helped someone who otherwise would have been shut out of the legal system.
Just a few weeks ago, DVAP helped one of these people. DVAP’s client, “Natalie,” is a young mother who had been turned away and denied every step of the way. Natalie’s young child had been effectively kidnapped by a relative who intentionally took the child from the only mother she had ever known, moved and decidedly did not let anyone know where to find her. For months, Natalie suffered. One can only imagine how the child felt. Did she feel abandoned? Did she wonder if she would ever see her mommy again? Did she cry for her when she was sick or tired?
Natalie sought help from the police, but unfortunately, there was no assistance there. She sought help from the courts, but there was not much the courts could do at this point and time. The courts needed paperwork, advocates and people who knew the rules. Natalie was told to file pro se documents. So she did. But, once she got an order, the constables would not enforce it, and they sent her back to the courthouse. Somehow, she ended up at the doors of the Belo Mansion. Tears of despair accompanied her.
And this is where the next chapter in Natalie and her daughter’s life began. Some phone calls, emails and paperwork ensued. DVAP placed Natalie’s case with a lawyer who stepped up to help. Just like any other legal case, Natalie’s case may have twists and turns, and the outcome is not clear right now. But the one thing Natalie has today that she did not have last week is that she is armed with a person who has a law degree, a law license and courtroom experience—her pro bono warrior.
Her bright, caring lawyer will not be paid fees; those are waived. But, I promise you, her lawyer will be paid in full. It may be Natalie’s brilliant smile, a bear hug or a simple greeting card that will make it all worth it. It may be Natalie’s quiet tears of joy. It could be the gratefulness Natalie shows, or it could be the gratitude that her lawyer feels for the opportunity to do what only she can do—unlock those courthouse doors for Natalie.
Thank you to our wonderful pro bono lawyers. Thank you to our clients who remind us every day of why we should fight for justice for all. And, thank you Lisa Blue Baron and Mike Kaeske for making so much of this possible.
Alicia Hernandez is the director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the DBA director of community services. She can be reached at email@example.com.