Richard Baker focuses his practice on helping churches and not for profit organizations navigate the complexities of today’s highly regulated environment. Richard’s practice has grown to include the areas of real estate transactions, zoning law and religious freedom, not-for-profit corporate law, and federal and real estate tax exemption. He also works with individual clients in the areas of estate planning and probate, trust administration and adoption.
In his application for law school, Richard wrote that he wanted to become a lawyer to “serve the kingdom of God.” Given his background, this seemed a bit odd. Richard’s family lived on the edge of Wheaton College and was antagonistic to what it viewed as the narrow judgmental Christian message. However, late in high school a Wheaton College student challenged Richard to consider the character and person of Jesus rather than focus on institutions and their shortcomings. As though blinders had been removed, Richard came to believe in Jesus and accept God’s call on his life.
In 1977, Richard graduated from Wheaton College, and sensing a calling to go to law school, he applied to a number of schools. Aware that his Kingdom answer on his application might jeopardize admission into law school, nevertheless, Richard believed that the truth is the best policy and trusted God for the outcome. In 1980, Richard graduated from Loyola Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
True to his calling to serve the Kingdom, the majority of Richard's clients today are churches and religious ministries. His work in these areas allows him to help resolve the complicated problems they face. He notes that “often churches and other ministries are not aware of the complexities involved as they attempt to comply with the ever expanding regulations governing not-for-profits. Increasingly, government agencies are not responsive to the nature and the needs of religious ministries and have a bias against religious organizations. Working with them can be a great challenge.” In the area of building and facility programs, Richard explains that "churches rarely understand the underlying political dynamics of fear involved in obtaining zoning approval. Neighbors in residential districts fear noise and traffic while municipalities fear loss of tax revenue in commercial districts. Between the two, you can almost always expect opposition, no matter where you locate."
Six generations of lawyers in his family have impressed Richard with an understanding of the importance of integrity and that the practice of law is an honorable profession. Richard’s co-workers at Mauck & Baker continue to spur one another on to do God’s work. “We have a very deep desire in this firm to serve the Lord and his people,” he says. “We believe we have been called to the law and that influences what we do and the way we do it.
Richard served on the Board of the Christian Business Men’s Committee for 14 years and continues to serve at his church and on not for profit boards including the Christian Legal Society and the American Anglican Council. He participates in local and international mission efforts by serving on the missions program at his church and teaches the 3rd to 5th grade Sunday school class. Richard enjoys lecturing on religious freedom and has spoken on religious zoning topics before the American Bar Association, the Christian Legal Society, numerous churches, and non-for-profit organizations. He also teaches an American law class and a Bible study to Chinese lawyers in Chicago. Richard is an avid traveler, and enjoys running and playing the mandolin – though not at the same time.
Richard and his lovely wife, Mary, have been married for forty years. They met at church and, according to Richard, “it was love at first sight.” Richard is grateful to Mary for her vision of family and for their six children whom they home schooled for ten years. Richard and Mary live in Wheaton, Illinois and attend All Souls Anglican Church.