Steve McConnico Named Baylor Law's Practice Court Professor

July 11, 2005
News Photo 3014Steve McConnico

by Alan Hunt, (254) 710-6271

With Baylor Law School's Practice Court Professor Bill Underwood currently serving as the university's Interim President, high profile Austin lawyer Steve McConnico has been named by Baylor Law School as its Practice Court Professor for the 2005 Fall Quarter.

A 1976 Baylor law graduate who has tried more than 150 cases to a jury verdict, he said he is "very proud" to be a part of the Baylor family and especially to be given this opportunity to serve the Law School. McConnico has tried cases all over Texas from Orange to El Paso and from Brownsville to Amarillo. He has been lead attorney in cases in Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, and California. McConnico has won multimillion dollar jury verdicts for plaintiffs and over 100 successful jury verdicts for defendants. He has handled cases of all types including professional malpractice, oil and gas, environmental, personal injury, fraud, class actions, fiduciary duty, contract, and will contests. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Law and in Civil Trial Law.

Baylor Law's Practice Court program and the school's solid reputation for advocacy training have been recognized in numerous prestigious law school rankings over the years. Baylor's Practice Court program was ranked sixth best in the nation in the recently released 2006 edition of U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Graduate Schools." And in a previous nationwide assessment of America's law schools, The Princeton Review described Baylor Law School as "the Marine Corps of law schools." The Review termed Baylor's Practice Court Program as "arguably the best training ground in the nation for practical lawyering."

Dean Brad Toben noted that "given the pre-eminent place of Practice Court in our curriculum, culture and history, the importance of promptly identifying a suitable Practice Court professor to cover for the absence of Interim President Underwood cannot be overemphasized." Toben described McConnico as a trial lawyer with a high profile of accomplishment and unquestioned respect within the profession. "He will bring, as has Bill Underwood and his predecessors, both rigor and sound pedagogical practices to the program. Steve has a highly active 'life of the mind' within the advocacy arena, and will bring intellectual energy to the classroom. Also, by force of a commanding personality and formidable bearing, Steve will be able to command the respect of our students and the confidence of the faculty in carrying forth the tradition of high expectations of marked rigor within the Practice Court program."

Professor David Guinn, the senior member of the law faculty, Master Teacher and Louise L. Morrison Professor of Constitutional Law, said, "How remarkably fortunate we are. Steve fully understands and deeply appreciates the history, significance and primacy of Practice Court within the context of our program. The Practice Court program has succeeded in achieving the program's goals of teaching students the value of preparation and hard work, and training students to be precise in analysis, persuasive in speech, poised under pressure, and effective in the courtroom. He will continue in the best tradition of the Practice Court legacies of Judge Alexander, Judge Wilson, Matt Dawson, Louis Muldrow and Bill Underwood during his time of service within the program."

Guinn added, "Steve fully appreciates the goals of the Practice Court program and has demonstrated the ability to fully ensure that the program achieves those goals. We all should be gratified that the Practice Court program will continue to have outstanding leadership. I have complete confidence that the team of Steve McConnico and (Professor) Jerry Powell will do what is necessary to ensure that the great Baylor Practice Court tradition is continued and, indeed, enhanced as we go forward."

McConnico said everyone who goes through the Baylor Practice Court program finds it to be a defining point in their life. He said, "Practice Court taught me how to practice law. First, it taught me to work hard. You learn you can always do more than you think. Second, it taught me that good and bad are usually mingled together. Sometimes you are going to win, and sometimes you are going to lose. You cannot become too discouraged when you lose or too reckless when you win. It taught me that if you keep a cool head and just keep working, you will meet with more success than you ever imagined. When I am with other Baylor lawyers we end up talking about Practice Court. I feel lucky I can give back to a tradition that has given me so much. I am committed to maintaining the course's rigorous standards. I doubt that I can meet the high standard of my own Practice Court teacher, (Professor Emeritus) Matt Dawson, but I will try."

McConnico is a name partner at the Austin law firm of Scott, Douglass, and McConnico. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Baylor Law Review. After law school, he was the briefing attorney for Justice Jack Pope of the Texas Supreme Court. McConnico is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He has served as president of the Texas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Baylor Law School Alumni Association. He has served as chairman of the State Bar Litigation Section. Texas Monthly has selected him as one of Texas' Super 100 lawyers.

Gerald R. Powell, who teaches in the Practice Court program as the Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law, said McConnico is "highly respected by judges as a competent and ethical lawyer." He added, "If you were to ask any knowledgeable lawyer in Texas who is on the top twenty list of outstanding trial lawyers in the state, Steve McConnico would be on everybody's list. He is a genuine master of both the law of procedure and the art of trial advocacy. He has over thirty years of trial experience - state and federal, trial and appellate, jury and non-jury. He has extensive experience also in both arbitration and administrative hearings."

Powell added, "I have known him since we were in Baylor Law School together as students, and I am excited about the opportunity to work side-by-side with him in Practice Court."

Toben also noted that "We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jerry Powell. Upon Bill's selection as Interim President, Jerry responded to my request to take over the the Practice Court program for the summer quarter with an immediate and gracious willingness to do so. Jerry's work with our students, in the Evidence component of the Practice Court/Evidence program, and in his work in our perennially highly successful interscholastic advocacy program, has always been marked by an attitude of going to the utmost end to prepare our students for the profession. His taking on what has been a sudden and time intensive task of teaching the summer class is so deeply appreciated by me, my colleagues, and of course our students. Jerry, as always, has stepped to the line without hesitation."

McConnico is married to Leslie Rost McConnico who is an active volunteer in the Austin community. They have a daughter, Callie, who is in the sixth grade at Trinity Episcopal School, a son, Andrew, who is a Junior at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and a son, Kit, who is a middle school teacher and a basketball coach in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

The McConnicos are youth Sunday school teachers at Covenant Presbyterian Church where McConnico has served as a Deacon.

McConnico said his hobbies include mountain climbing, snow skiing and bird hunting. He said he often enjoys these activities with Baylor Law School classmates. McConnico has three cousins and a brother who also graduated from Baylor Law School.

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