John Baker ’99
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Attorney John Baker credits his SCSU Survey professors with giving him the confidence to pursue a law degree and help launch the groundbreaking Minnesota firm that deals exclusively with veterans’ legal needs.
Baker had come to St. Cloud State after 22 years in the Marine Corps, a disabled veteran. Professor Steve Frank said Baker was an excellent student who had put a lot of experience between the problems of his youth and his newfound interest in politics and public policy issues.
“Professors Frank and (Steven) Wagner use the SCSU Survey as a way to work with students and give them hands-on experience working with issues,” Baker said. “The work helps shape you. The Steves absolutely influenced me. My experience with them prepared me for law school. As a student director (1998-99) I learned about political science and survey methods, but more importantly the experience gave me the ability to really dissect issues of public policy.” He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics.
After law school and another year of active duty in the Marines, Baker joined a Minneapolis law firm. But in January he opened the firm of Baker, Wadd & Williams LLP, along with his wife, Sharon Clark-Williams, and Adam Wadd, who had gone to law school after serving in the U.S. Navy and graduating from the University of Minnesota. All three are graduates of the Hamline University School of Law.
Their innovative firm is believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation, with the partners focusing only on the legal needs of veterans, from untangling military red tape to child custody and divorce cases to criminal problems. “I’ve been through most of that,” Baker said. “I know the process. We do a lot of pro bono work and family law. It’s full service.”
Baker said he learned a lot about being there for others from his favorite professors in political science. “I had Professor Frank for five or six quarters in a row,” said Baker. “He was always available to me. I would get e-mails from him at 1 in the morning.”