During his undergraduate days at Baylor University, Professor Gerald Powell was a top debater, reigning as champion of the Southwest Conference and qualifying for the national tournament. It was a skill that has served him well as both a litigator and as director of Baylor Law's renowned Practice Court Program. He is known for the tough love he exhibits to his students through his unforgiving critiques in the middle of Practice Court sessions. He said it is a method that works.
"I guess the old adage is, ‘the proof is in the pudding,'" he says. "When you look at our graduates and what they accomplish in the world, that's a reflection on our program, and that makes us very proud. The students come in very smart, and we take them and turn them into very capable lawyers, so that by the end, they are ready to step into a courtroom and represent a client or take the bench as a judge. It's personally rewarding to see that transformation."
Professor Powell, a native Wacoan, earned his J.D. from Baylor Law School in 1977, and was ranked number 1 in his class. During his time at Baylor Law School, he was a member of the national mock trial team and national moot court team and Executive Editor of the Baylor Law Review.
He joined the Dallas law firm of Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox in 1977 and had an active litigation practice with the firm. He was made a partner in 1982.
In 1986, Professor Powell returned to Baylor Law School to teach, and in 1987 he was appointed the Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law. Professor Powell was recently named a Master Teacher by Baylor University, the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members.
Professor Powell teaches Practice Court II: Trial Evidence, Procedure and Practice as well as Practice Court III: Trial and Post-Trial Practice, Procedure and Evidence. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is a coach of Baylor's award-winning mock trial teams. He also writes and speaks extensively on evidence, procedure and trial advocacy topics and has co-authored two books on Texas evidence, A Practical Guide to the Texas Rules of Civil Evidence and Texas Rules of Civil Evidence with Objections.
Professor Powell is an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a professional association of experienced trial lawyers, and was appointed by the President of the State Bar of Texas to the Court Reorganization Task Force. He has served on the Administration of Rules of Evidence Committee for the State Bar of Texas. Additionally, he regularly presents judicial training courses for the Texas Center for the Judiciary.
When not teaching at Baylor Law School, Professor Powell enjoys outdoor activities, including hunting, backpacking, and camping. He is the former Scoutmaster of Troop 453, Boy Scouts of America. In that capacity, he has led Scouts on weeklong expeditions in backcountry New Mexico and hiked 40 miles through the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
He also enjoys pursuing his interests in history and historic ship modeling. His office boasts a fully detailed 1:90 scale model of the H.M.S. Victory, a British sailing ship made famous by Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It took him 11 years to build. He is working on a model of Captain James Cook's Endeavor.
Professor Powell frequently teaches continuing education classes on life at sea in the Napoleonic era as well as the voyages of discovery made by Captain Cook. He serves as a director on the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum Advisory Board, and he originated the Baylor-Waco Civil War Round Table in the late 1980's.
Professor Powell and his wife, Barbara, have two children.