“I thought he was a braggart,” Lisa Blue says about meeting her husband, Fred Baron, for the first time. “But I knew he was just insecure,” she adds with the knowing nod of an experienced psychologist. “You’re darn right I was insecure,” Baron agrees boisterously. Friends had fixed up the two well-known trial lawyers on what was essentially a blind date, and they married one year later. That was more than 25 years ago.
When describing the partnership of Baron and Blue, the term “power couple” is an understatement. Both are well known in the toxic tort arena of plaintiffs’ law. Baron founded the wildly successful firm of Baron and Budd after making a name for himself with groundbreaking asbestos litigation in the ’70s. Blue has garnered much acclaim for her success trying toxic tort cases and for her work in jury psychology.
When the two met, Baron was going through a divorce — getting remarried was far from his mind. But after dating Blue for a few months, his plans changed. “Lisa had gone away to Paris for the summer,” Baron recalls. “Even though I was dating other people, I was miserable without her. I asked her to marry me the day she got home.”
In the first years of their marriage, Blue worked as an assistant district attorney in Dallas while Baron ran his thriving civil practice at Baron and Budd. Blue recalls, “When I was a criminal lawyer, Fred and I had a running routine. Sometimes when a civil lawyer would come to the courthouse, I would go home and say to Fred, ‘Civil lawyers do not know how to try cases.’” Baron chimes in, “I would remind her of that joke a lot once she began working at Baron and Budd.”
Blue credits her husband with being one of her most important mentors once she made the switch to civil law. “The things I’m weak at, he does superbly — he’s a fantastic negotiator and manager, and he understands business. He can take the most awful defense lawyer, turn him around and get the case settled. I need a lot of help with that.”
Baron feels that Blue has had an equally significant effect on his work. “Lisa always seems to end up in the jury box,” he says. “She has the ability to make the jury think that she’s one of them. I never quite crossed that border, but Lisa helped me get close to it.”
While the two have the utmost respect for each other’s strengths, they sometimes found that working on the same case could pose a challenge. “If we disagreed on trial strategy, it brought some additional conflict to an already stressful situation,” Blue explains. But in terms of working at the same firm, they feel the negatives are not a problem.
Similarly, both Baron and Blue believe the benefits of being married to a fellow attorney are significant. “We speak the same language, we’re interested in the same subjects,” Baron explains. “And we both understand that when we’re talking to each other and cross-examining one another, it’s not meant to be evil,” he says with a smile. “It’s the way we communicate sometimes. A non-lawyer just doesn’t get that.”
Their interests have overlapped not only in the professional arena, but also in philanthropic endeavors. In 2002, the couple began the Baron and Blue Foundation to address Dallas’ homelessness and housing problem, an issue both feel strongly about. “It’s not something you can just write checks to and throw money at,” Baron says. “We need to figure out how to deal with the problem more effectively.” The Foundation focuses on ensuring the success of a number of local charities.
As they describe the Foundation, Baron and Budd sit close together, each with a hand resting on the other’s knee. Both husband and wife seem delighted to be in the other’s presence. “During the past two decades, I don’t think we’ve spent an aggregate of 45 minutes arguing,” Baron says.
Over the course of their marriage, the couple’s jobs have taken them away from one another frequently, and often for weeks at a time. When Baron was president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America he moved to Washington, D.C., for an entire year. But they made the distance work to their advantage. “We always schedule date nights,” Blue explains. “It’s a time when we can just talk and reconnect.” Baron agrees, continuing her thought, “and when we’re together we don’t let anyone bother us.”