As casual in appearance as he is in manner, Fred Baron props his legs on the coffee table of his spacious corner office on the 16th floor of a North Dallas high rise. He may not be practicing asbestos litigation anymore, may not lay claim to the title, “King of Toxic Torts” and the infamy that goes with it, may not be running a stable of 480 employees as the founding partner of the highly successful Baron & Budd, but he clearly is in his element. Exuding his trademark optimism, he draws you into his confidence, telling you exactly what he wants you to know, while making you feel it’s exactly what you want to hear.

He has just returned from a luncheon for Craig Watkins, the freshly elected Democrat who surprised many politicos and pundits on Nov. 7 by upsetting alleged Republican shoo-in Toby Shook in the race for Dallas County district attorney.