“I remember going downtown to my father’s office as early as age 6 or 7,” the son of Kansas City attorney John Baty recalls. “He taught me the Key system in the case books and how to do brief research.”
The family moved to Monett, his mother’s birthplace, when Lee Baty was a teen. His father would serve 20 years as a 39th Circuit judge before his death in 1985 from cancer at age 64.
“When I was growing up, it was always forefront in my mind that that’s what I’d end up doing,” said Baty, a University of Notre Dame and Mizzou Law graduate. “I picked it up naturally from him.”
“I watched him on the bench being fair and courteous. He repeatedly told me that was the most important thing — treating people with kindness, respect and civility in life, and if I did so in the practice of law, all good things would follow.”
As president and managing partner of his firm, a role he’s held for more than 20 years, Lee Baty’s defense work typically involves large-loss cases in areas such as products liability, trucking and insurance.
Unprompted, he’s quick to credit several influential mentors in his career, including Missouri Court of Appeals Judge Ronald Somerville, for whom he clerked after law school; Lyman Field, the “absolute Missouri law legend” with whom he worked at Field, Gentry and Benjamin, which through the years has evolved into his current firm; former colleague Bob Numrich; and current partner Theresa Otto.
The second-generation lawyer was also fortunate to practice with both his daughter Kathryn, whom he said is now “taking a break to raise three boys,” and son John, who worked at the firm for six years before his sudden death in 2019 at age 31 from an undiagnosed medical condition.
“Such loss would cause many to rethink their path, but Lee has remained a steady, humor-filled leader of our firm,” a colleague wrote in her nomination letter. “His innate strength has allowed him to continue with a very busy litigation practice in the face of a very personal loss.”
Outside the courtroom, Baty serves as president of the board of directors of The Mission Project, a Kansas City not-for-profit that enables adults with disabilities to live and work independently. He’s a past board member of the American Royal Association and a proud grandfather of six (soon to be seven), all of whom live within 10 minutes of his home.