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Balus 10/19/16  10/19/16 1:08:51 PM Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly Version

Balus is one of a relatively small number of attorneys nationwide who has tried several FLSA class actions.

Baird Holm’s Allison Balus:
Community Activist and Defender of Business

By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record

It is easy to imagine Allison Balus sitting in her office at Baird Holm LLP and wondering how she is going to fit in everything she wants to do during the allotted hours of her week.
Dubbed a “Future Star” of the Nebraska Bar, she has made her mark from Wahoo to Washington while serving her clients in the courtroom, participating on multiple community boards, and being a wife and mother of four.
Oh, and she’s not yet 40 years old.
You could call her a defender of business.
“I primarily practice in employment litigation,” Balus said.

Her work involves representing employers in federal and state court lawsuits as well as arbitrations, involving claims such as age, race, gender and disability discrimination. She also works on whistleblower retaliation cases, wrongful termination in violation of public policy cases, lawsuits involving failure to provide reasonable accommodation, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and harassment.  
Since 2014 she has been a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Executive Committee for Labor Relations and Employment Law Section. Balus is licensed in Nebraska, Iowa, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
“I have also had substantial experience defending employers in federal and state law wage and hour cases – class actions in particular,” she added.
 Among her clients have been several international food-processing companies.  In fact, she has been named a Preferred Legal Services Provider for Tyson Foods, Inc. Her clients range in size from Fortune 1000 companies to local family businesses. Balus also provides counsel and is an advocate for firms on a number of other employment issues. Those include drafting and enforcing non-compete agreements, ensuring Family and Medical Leave Act compliance, and she defends retaliation claims.
Her practice also touches on Fair Housing, counseling, and litigation. Property managers, developers, builders, design professionals, and nonprofit organizations are among those she represents.
“I am 39 and have been practicing for over 14 years,” she said.
But really, she may just be getting started.
Balus earned her bachelor’s degree in English and French from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, with distinction, and got her J.D. at the Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude.
“I have been married for 13 years to Matthew Balus, and we have four daughters, ages seven months to eight [years],” Balus said. “After law school, I worked for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C. for almost three years before returning home to Omaha in 2005 to work at Baird Holm.”
She grew up in Omaha and attended Westside High School where she graduated in 1995. But there was more to her teen years than Omaha.
“I also spent a great deal of my childhood with my grandparents, in the town in which my mother was born and raised – Weston, Nebraska,” she recalled. That is a town with a population of only a few hundred people, located just of Highway 92 about 10 miles west of Wahoo.
“When I was young, my grandparents owned a truck stop and restaurant called Hakel’s, located on Highway 92, just outside of town,” Balus said. “I was very close to my grandparents – my oldest daughter is named after my grandmother.  
“I used to spend weeks at a time with them.  I would work in the restaurant while I stayed with them – washing dishes by age 5 and waiting tables by age 8.”  
That’s where she learned the value of hard work and community service, and the importance of family.  
“When I was young, my grandmother would tell me that when I got older, I wouldn’t want to come stay with them anymore – that I would prefer to hang out with my friends,” Balus recalled. “It never happened.  She was one of my favorite people to spend time with until the day she died.”
Balus said she loves to sing, but rarely finds time.
Her commitment to community service is real. She is, or has, been on the Rose Theater Board of Trustees and the St. Gerald Catholic School Advisory Board, was a member of the 38th Leadership Omaha Class, was in the Women’s Fund Circles Group, and has served on the Girls’ Inc. GirlFRIENDS Guild including a stint as president from 2011-2013. She is a graduate of the ICAN Influence Program, and served on the Delta Gamma, Kappa Chapter House Corporation Board.
“Through my community activities, I have met some amazing people – leaders in our community who dedicate themselves to making Omaha a wonderful place to live,” she said. “Those networks have proven to be invaluable in my professional endeavors.  
“For one thing, I have been able to be a ‘connector’ for my clients – finding the right people to help them with problems they are facing, even non-legal problems.  It is amazing how much more quickly and effectively you can solve problems and get questions answered when you know the right people to ask.”
Allison Balus did not grow up in a legal family, but her parents were well educated. Her father had an M.D. and her mother earned a Ph.D.
“So I always expected that I would get some kind of a post-graduate degree.  In fifth grade I began telling people that I would go to law school, and even forecasted that I would go to Georgetown.”
The prognostication, although she never had visited the school, came true.
“I have always liked public speaking, writing, and winning arguments, so it seemed a perfect fit,” she said.
Balus is one of a relatively small number of attorneys nationwide who has tried several FLSA class actions.
“The lawsuits I handle are often very personal and emotional for my clients,” she explained. “Business owners or supervisors who are being accused of discrimination or harassment, or even not paying people properly, are often hurt or angry at being accused of such things.
“I help them navigate a sometimes confusing and convoluted process to try to clear their name, or at least resolve the case in a way they can accept.”
She seems to have found a perfect fit in her practice at Baird Holm.
“The attorneys I work with are extremely talented and so supportive of each other.  They make it such a fun, rewarding place to work that I have a hard time imaging working anywhere else,” Balus said.
There also seems little chance that she will slow down outside the office. Make no mistake, those activities are extremely important to her.
“I continue to look for volunteer opportunities that not only involve causes I am passionate about but also that will be visible to my daughters so that they can learn the value of community service.”
For more information about Baird Holm LLP, please go to: www.bairdholm.com.
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