Since passing the Indiana bar in 1987, Rex Baker has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to representing injured plaintiffs.
After receiving his juris doctorate from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif., he returned to Indiana and launched his legal career with a prominent Indianapolis plaintiff-only civil litigation firm where he handled personal-injury and medical-malpractice cases for 13 years.
Toward the end of his tenure there, Rex decided he wanted to work closer to his family in the western suburbs and opened his own law office in Avon. One day he received a phone call from attorney Caroline A. Gilchrist, who was in a similar situation—she’d grown tired of the commute to her practice in downtown Indianapolis and wanted to work closer to her home in the western suburbs.
“We had lunch,” Rex says. “And the rest is history.”
Very quickly, Baker & Gilchrist developed a reputation as a go-to firm for medical-malpractice cases. Both lawyers had extensive expertise handling medical-malpractice cases in their previous practices and had a willingness to deal with the tough Indiana rules that many other lawyers prefer to avoid.
The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, passed in 1975, imposes a $1.25 million damages cap and requires that a review panel of the Indiana Department of Insurance provide initial approval of all claims, an oftentimes lengthy process.
“Because of all these issues, a lot of attorneys won’t handle them,” Rex says. “So it became a fertile ground for us, both for referrals and for developing our own client base. As a result, we have become a predominantly medical-malpractice law firm. Right now, probably 80 percent of what we do is medical malpractice.”
Even though the rules and confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements make it difficult to achieve the kinds of verdicts that make headlines, Rex’s medical-malpractice work has resulted in outcomes that have dramatically improved the lives of countless clients.
“Where I get my satisfaction the most is at the closure of a case when I think I’ve done something well and clients tell me how much they appreciate the job that I’ve done and the difference it’s made in their lives,” he says. “But some of the cases I’m most proud of are cases that we won on appeal and made a change in the law that can benefit people.”
Rex says that he and Gilchrist believe strongly in giving clients thoughtful service in addition to zealous advocacy. They offer case reviews from two nurses who work for the firm and frequently from nationally recognized experts as well. They have a policy of advancing all legal expenses up front.
“Even if it comes back and it looks like no claim, we feel that we’ve provided a service to them,” he says. “We give them an answer, yes or no on malpractice, and they can move on with their lives. It costs us quite a bit of money every year to do that, but we feel it’s a service we want to provide.”
In addition, he says, he and Gilchrist frequently reduce their fees in cases where they feel it’s warranted based on either the recovery or the needs of the client.
When he’s not practicing law, Rex devotes much of his time and attention to the legal profession. He was an adjunct associate professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, where he taught evidence and other courses. He’s been an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau, served on the Indianapolis Bar Association litigation section’s executive committee, and has been president of the local chapter of the Christian Legal Society for years. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association and a charter member of the local chapter of the American Inns of Court.
He is active in his church and enjoys fishing and travel. He has been married for 33 years and has two adult daughters.