Nick Baran is VLSP's February Volunteer of the Month

  • 2/1/2006
  • Psyche Philips
  • VLSP

Nick Baran has taken more than ten pro bono family law cases through BASF's Volunteer Legal Services Program's (VLSP) Family Law Project since he was admitted to the California State Bar and began volunteering with VLSP in January 2004. As one of our most enthusiastic volunteers, Nick's story and his level of dedication are outstanding examples of the limitless options and opportunities we all have but sometimes don't see. At the age of 50, after a career as an engineer and high-tech journalist, Nick enrolled in UC Hastings College of the Law. He heard about the volunteer opportunities available at VLSP after he graduated, and thought it sounded like "a great way to get experience without having to work for somebody else." Nick has taken domestic violence cases involving restraining orders, conservatorship cases, custody battles between unmarried parents, and helped a woman divorce her abusive spouse. His most recent endeavor is a transactional law case through VLSP's Community Organization Representation Project (CORP) helping a nonprofit get 501(c) 3 status.

"I look at law as a way to give something back to society and stay engaged as I head into my retirement years," Nick says of his recent decision to go into the legal profession. His most memorable case was a custody battle in which the father, who was a drug user, would occasionally appear after long absences and demand involvement with the child. Nick remembers when they were in court waiting for their hearing. When the judge was about to send the couple back to mediation, "I asked the dad to step out into the hall and negotiated a deal, where he gave the mother, my client, sole custody and agreed to reasonable visitation." The judge accepted the deal and the case was closed. "My client, was very relieved," remembers Nick.

"Nick is a great volunteer. He always does a great job," says Krista Denton, supervising attorney for VLSP's Family Law Project. "He never says no, even when we call him last minute. Nick's first concern has always been the best interest of those he represents, thinking beyond the legal issue they bring to him." VLSP's Family Law Project has pro bono opportunities in family law matters such as dissolutions, child custody, child support, guardianships and domestic violence. Volunteer attorneys without any previous experience can volunteer, which makes it a great opportunity for new attorneys, or those who practice in different areas of law but want to diversify their experience. Nick vouches for the support that he has received: "I am very impressed with VLSP, I think it's a wonderful program."

For Nick, "It is very rewarding to help people who need legal counsel and can't afford it." Nick has been married for almost 30 years and is the father of adult twins. When he is not volunteering with VLSP, he can be found cooking or playing guitar where he lives in Noe Valley.

For more information about VLSP's pro bono opportunities, please contact VLSP's Volunteer Coordinator at

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