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Professor David Guinn Named 2013 Baylor Lawyer of the Year

Aug. 26, 2013

Professor David Guinn (center) is the 2013 Baylor Lawyer of the Year. He was presented with the honor on Aug. 26 by Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben (left) and Baylor University President Ken Starr (right).

Professor David Guinn, who is in his 48th year of teaching at Baylor Law School, has been selected as the 2013 Baylor Lawyer of the Year.

A committee of the Baylor Law Alumni Association selected Guinn for the honor. A luncheon in Guinn's honor will be held Nov. 22.

"David Guinn, along with Matt Dawson and the late Dean Angus McSwain, is one of the great mentors I have had in my career," said Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben. "I would never have found my way to teaching and back to Baylor Law School if it had not been for those three men. As he enters his 48th year of teaching at Baylor Law, it is a source of comfort to me that David is still here and I can turn to him when I need advice or guidance. Baylor Law School is very blessed by all that David does in his work."

The Baylor Law School family refers to Guinn, the Lyndon L. Olson and William A. Olson Professor of Local Government and Constitutional Law and Master Teacher, as "the Godfather." The nickname is a tribute not only to Guinn's long tenure at the law school, but also to the wide influence he has had on state policy and generations of Baylor Lawyers.

"I have had occasion to interview many graduates of Baylor Law School, and it was remarkable that all of the students mentioned Professor Guinn as being their favorite teacher," said George Chandler (LLB '62), of Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC in Lufkin. "Professor Guinn's most outstanding work, in my opinion, has been in the lives of the many young people he has influenced over the years."

During his years at Baylor Law, Guinn has assisted in the drafting of the Texas Administrative Procedures Act and has served on numerous advisory bodies in the State Bar and on numerous committees at Baylor University. In addition to constitutional law, he teaches courses in the area of civil rights and local government.

"Professor Guinn's wisdom challenged me to always look at things from a new perspective and to remember those we are to save -- to truly use the law for good," said Jonathan Ellzey (JD '10), assistant criminal district attorney at Wichita County Criminal District Attorney's office.

Along with Professor Mike Morrison, Guinn has been involved in the redistricting process at the state and local level. After the 2000 Census was released, the two redistricted 52 cities, counties, and school districts throughout Texas.

Guinn also served as Faculty Representative to the Southwest and the Big XII athletic conferences from 1986-2001. In addition, he has served on the first Division I Management Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1997 and has continued to work with Baylor Athletics since that time.

Guinn attended Baylor University and majored in political science. He received his JD from Baylor Law School in 1963, although he did not receive his bachelor's degree until 37 years later. When Guinn left Baylor University for the Law School, he was six hours short of completing the requirements for a bachelor's degree. When Guinn enrolled at Baylor Law, a bachelor's degree was not a mandatory requirement; a student could enroll with only three years or 90 hours of college course work. Guinn did just that, but always regretted not completing his undergraduate degree. He spent one summer doing course work at Oxford University in Great Britain, but was still three hours short. He decided to take a computer course at Waco's McLennan Community College to complete his degree requirements.

"David took the additional hours secretly and surprised us with his new college degree," Toben said. "His doing that serves as a wonderful example of how David deeply values the educational experience."

After Guinn received his JD, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission employed him for two years. He then attended the University of Michigan Law School, where he received his LLM in International Law in 1966, and then returned to his alma mater to teach.

Guinn has two sons, David Jr. and John, who graduated from Baylor Law School; and a daughter, Catherine, who is a graduate of Baylor University.

"I tell all my young people that the most important thing to securing a job is to find something that you really enjoy doing. You will never be good at it if you don't enjoy it. No one on this Earth ever had a job they loved more than I love mine," Guinn said.

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