Beyond Mauck & Baker: Richard Baker
Updated: Mar 10
In this new series, we'll take a look at the volunteer work that each of our attorneys are involved in beyond their time at Mauck & Baker. Get to know the people who make our firm special and what else they're passionate about in addition to lawyering! This month features one of our founding partners, Richard Baker, and the many ways he's been serving his community.
Q: First off, which organizations do you serve with beyond your work with Mauck & Baker?
RCB: I have the privilege of sitting on the national boards of Christian Legal Society (CLS), and the American Anglican Council (AAC), the Visitor’s Board for the Nashotah House Seminary and I serve as a trustee for The Underwood Foundation.
Q: Can you explain a little more about each of these?
RCB: The Christian Legal Society is essentially a fellowship of Christians dedicated to serving Jesus Christ through the practice and study of law, the defense of religious freedom and the sanctity of life, and the provision of legal aid to the needy. To accomplish this, CLS fosters fellowship and mentoring among Christian lawyers and with law students to encourage them in their faith and practice. In the area of legal aid, we sponsor, educate, and provide materials to legal aid clinics around the country that are doing legal aid in in the name of Jesus in under-resourced communities. Finally, CLS supports the Religious Freedom Center which is involved both in legal cases and legislation concerning the protection of religious freedom and the scantily of life. In all of its ministries, we are pondering what does it mean to have a calling from God to be a Christian attorney?
The American Anglican Council is an organization that is a network of individuals, parishes, dioceses and ministries who affirm biblical authority and Christian orthodoxy within the Anglican Communion. AAC seeks to build up and defend what it refers to as ‘Great Commission’ Anglican churches in North America and worldwide through advocacy and counsel, leadership development and equipping the local church to do its work. The AAC has been very instrumental in North America with the establishment of a new Anglican province called the Anglican Church of North America. On the international level the AAC works closely with Anglican churches all over the world that share a Biblical foundation in contrast to the accommodating trends so affecting the Church today.
As mentioned I also sit on a governing board for Nashotah House Theological Seminary. The House, as it is called, exists to form persons for ministry (clergy and lay) in the breadth of the Catholic Tradition within the Anglican Communion, empowering the Church for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is set apart from so many other seminaries in that it is about the business not merely of education, but formation. That formation takes place beyond the mere confines of a class room. Rather, it happens in the midst of an international community of students, faculty, staff, and their families who work, study, pray, and live together in a daily rhythm of learning and worshipping.
I also have had the privilege of serving as a trustee for the Underwood Foundation for many years. The Foundation was set up by my grandfather Walter Underwood many years ago. Walter Underwood was a dedicated Christian and as part of his law ministry, he served as the Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The Foundation contributes to up to 30 different charities every year. Following in his footsteps, many of them, as you may have guessed by now, are Anglican ministries.
Q: That’s a lot of different serving capacities. How did you get involved with some of them?
RCB: I got involved with Christian Legal Society in my first year of law school because, as a Christian, I found that many of my beliefs and the very purpose of my life were being challenged on a regular basis. In the aggressive secular environment of law school, I found the mentoring given to me by other lawyers and law students of the Christian Legal Society to be a cup of water to a very thirsty soul in a very dry land. Believing that “iron sharpens iron,” I’ve been involved with CLS, and particularly it’s Law Student Ministries, ever since. I view this as a way to give back for all the things that have been given to me.
As for the American Anglican Council, I got involved because I am an Anglican and I’ve been involved in many of the theological disputes over orthodoxy taking place within the Episcopal Church in the United States for many years. I am orthodox and troubled by the liberal drift of the Episcopal Church. So, because of my legal training and because of my concerns over the years I’ve become involved with the American Anglican Council, which offers a path different from than the liberal trends in the Episcopal Church.
Q: As an attorney, how are you especially suited to help out in these organizations?
RCB: Not for profits are highly regulated today, and my legal skills can help them navigate the bureaucratic and legal rapids that churches and ministries face on a daily basis.
Take for example one of my projects with the American Anglican Council. I initially got involved with the AAC because of a lawsuit taking place down in Quincy Illinois. The Diocese of Quincy was an Episcopal diocese that left The Episcopal Church (TEC) and became a part of the newly formed Anglican Church of North America. At that point, unilaterally, TEC caused Quincy’s Bank to freeze all of the Diocese’s assets, driving Quincy to its knees operationally. In the lawsuit that ensued, the issue was whether Quincy could leave TEC and if so, who would get all of its property? Quincy’s Chancellor, though a litigator with great spirit and experience, was under-manned and without the necessary resources to carry on the fight with TEC and its national counsel. When I got involved, I reached out as an attorney to the American Anglican Council to help Quincy.
Q: Why is it important for you to volunteer and get involved in non-for-profits outside of your normal work?
RCB: I ask that question often as I look at my billing. If you’re volunteering you’re not billing; and if you’re not billing, you’re not generating income to pay your bills. Fortunately, we have a wonderful arrangement here at Mauck & Baker which allows me to do volunteer work that I believe the Lord is calling me to as long as I carry my partner’s share of firm expenses. Luke 12:48 says, “To him who much has been given, much is required.” I’ve been given a great deal and I believe that Jesus has called me into law and that that calling goes far beyond just serving billing clients.
Q: That’s a great way to look at it. Do you consider this involvement a part of your calling? Why?
RCB: Well my calling has to do with the proclamation of the Gospel. In part, that has to do with the “culture wars” which I understand to concern maintaining a Christian witness within the American culture as opposition to it grows more apparent with each passing year. More specifically, my calling has to do with supporting the Church and God’s people: helping to ensure that the Gospel is free to be proclaimed; and that people are free to both believe and to live out their Christian faith in their daily lives. Because each of these ministries is involved in that witness, I see my involvement in them as living out my calling.
Q: What positive impact have you been able to make by serving within these organizations?
RCB: Each of these organizations needs legal expertise grounded in faith to carry out its mission. One example would be the work of The Underwood Foundation. It is a small foundation, but there’s a lot of legal and financial work that goes into attending to its matters. The IRS has detailed and stringent requirements that every foundation must follow, so there’s a lot of legal administrative work that needs to be done. By keeping the Foundation in legal compliance and attending to its finances, over the tenure I have served as a trustee, it has given out over $1 million to charities. Over time that adds up and really matters to the various charities.
Q: How has this involvement enriched your own life?
RCB: When I look back I see that I’ve been incredibly enriched. For all of us, it is so important to be working on things that are bigger than ourselves. I believe, as persons made in God’s image, we’re made for relationship and that involves caring for others. Deep down we all know and long for this. Thus, there is a great sense of accomplishment and enrichment in helping/giving to others.
I also think about standing before God hoping to hear “well done good and faithful servant.” I’m not referring here to good works so that God will approve of me or so I will go to heaven - which I am assured of already through faith in Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. While I do believe we are all called to do good works, here I am talking about a response of gratefulness to God and those in my life who have poured so much into my formation. I hope to be giving back since I have been given so much.