Spotlight on Successful Women in the Law: Dawn Barrios

May 18 2021 | Committees

Dawn Barrios is a founding partner of Barrios, Kingsdorf & Casteix, a New Orleans boutique firm. She concentrates her work in the field of complex multi-district litigation, products liability litigation, mass torts, and class actions.  The road from college to senior partner with this type of litigation practice was oftentimes bumpy, but very rewarding.

Ms. Barrios graduated from Newcomb College in 1974 and from Tulane University School of Law in 1976. In her final year of law school, she received the Admiralty Law Institute Prize and the American Jurisprudence Prize for Louisiana Civil Procedure. When she graduated, women comprised only 15% of the class.

From 1976-1979 she clerked for Chief Justice Joe W. Sanders of the Louisiana Supreme Court, then joined Carl W. Cleveland and Associates, where she made partner in 1980. She co-founded BKC in 1995.

Despite having a very active litigation practice, she was pregnant, gave birth and raised 3 sons in the 1980s.  Attempting to juggle her maternal duties, her sons’ happiness and education, the clients’ demands, and courts’ dockets was no small feat. As is usual with a mother, her needs were often given very low priority.  But with the help of nannies, housekeepers, paralegals and understanding law partners her sons grew into mature, civic-minded, professional men.

Since the mid-1990s starting with her role in both the state and national breast implant product liability litigation, Ms. Barrios has been recognized as a leading attorney in the arena of complex products liability litigation. Judges across the country have appointed her to numerous litigation committees in products liability and mass tort consolidated cases and class actions, including being appointed Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel in multi-district litigation against an education testing company. Most recently she played an integral role on the committees overseeing the defective Chinese Drywall Products Liability MDL, which resulted in settlements for property owners with defective drywall. Currently, she serves as Judge Jane Triche Milazzo’s Co-Liaison Counsel in the Taxotere MDL.

In 2011, the judges of the Eastern District of Louisiana appointed Ms. Barrios to the Lawyers Disciplinary Committee, another honor in recognition of her reputation for her both excellent and ethical advocacy.

In 2014, the New Orleans Bar Association presented her with the Arceneaux Professionalism Award; she is the first and only woman to ever receive this honor. On Dawn's work, the Honorable Eldon E. Fallon has said: "Dawn brings to every legal task a great work ethic, excellent organization skills, and an ability to accomplish her goal without alienating or disparaging her opponent. She understands well that, in the trial arena, a successful advocate never cuts what they can untie. She is a true professional and deserves this award."

In addition, Ms. Barrios has also been named a Louisiana Super Lawyer for 2014, an honor she has received every year since 2008. Super Lawyer Magazine has also named her one of the top 25 female lawyers in Louisiana.

She sits on the Board of Governors of the Louisiana Association for Justice, the New Orleans Bar Association board. and The Institute for Complex Litigation and Mass Claims board at Emory Law School. At Emory Law School, she has the opportunity to develop innovative ideas and procedures in complex litigation working with both federal and state judges, professors, and defense counsel.

Her non-profit work generally is for the art community and groups advocating for the LGBT community.

Ms. Barrios is a native of New Orleans whose eldest son is one of her law partners.


Lynn Luker
Women in the Profession Committee Chair

Each month NOBA's Women in the Profession Committee will spotlight a different female lawyer. WIP aims to support and celebrate successful women lawyers in New Orleans and their accomplishments. If you are interested in writing an article, please contact Lynn Luker for more information.

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