Connie Nichols majored in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a goal to discover a cure for cancer in the Amazon Rain Forest. But instead, she jumped to another field that, much like medical research, is constantly changing and developing.
Nichols said Intellectual Property Law is an area that holds her attention and is one of the fastest evolving areas of law. Witness that when she started practice, copyright infringement issues via file sharing and Napster were just emerging on the legal landscape.
"Now the big issue is who owns what in the world, and are current IP laws applicable with the way the world is changing. Are they living up to their intent," she said.
After earning her J.D. cum laude from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, in 2000, where she served as senior managing editor for the Federal Communications Law Journal, Nichols entered private practice with the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn, LLP, where she practiced for four years in the firm's Intellectual Property group, representing Fortune 500 companies and major advertising agencies.
"When I started practice, one of my first job assignments was playing video games for hours at a time. Because of various gambling laws, I was supposed to determine if video games were games of skill or games of chance," she said.
During her time with Winston & Strawn, she found herself working on cyber squatter cases, false advertising cases, and copyright cases. She even worked on a case involving the hit TV series "Burn Notice."
"There was a hotel pictured in an episode that was portrayed in a very bad light, and it lost business because of the way it and its employees were portrayed. I was able to get a disclaimer placed at the start of the episode," she said.
Following her time at the firm, Powell served as corporate counsel for Blockbuster, Inc., and most recently as corporate counsel for Global Hyatt Corporation where she managed the company's global intellectual property portfolio and provided support to the company on all intellectual property matters including technology, global privacy, advertising and marketing, and e-commerce.
"I love the law and felt what better way to contribute to the legal profession than preparing lawyers entering the legal profession," she said about why she left corporate life for academia.
At Baylor, Nichols found a law school that valued her years in practice and a faculty who truly care about their students.
"We are lawyers training lawyers at Baylor Law," she said. "I must say that I think we are giving our students an advantage for when they start practice because we are big believers in integrating theory and practice."
Nichols teaches IP and contracts and has written articles and made presentations on copyright infringement, IP issues in advertising and marketing, and the implications of the internet influencing media and politics.
When not teaching, fun-loving Nichols is mom to a 10-year-old son and can often be found hiking the trails at Cameron Park or in other active pursuits. She likes to brag that while working as a roller-skating car hop for Sonic during high school, she set a record for never dropping a tray--a record that still stands.
"Last fall, I ran in the Urban-athlon in Chicago. It's a 10-mile run that also takes you through various obstacles," she said.
For her leg, Nichols managed the hand-over-hand monkey bars and "leaping" the beach hurdles. She also did the taxi cab hurdles just for grins.
"It was a blast, and we all plan to do it again," she said, laughing.