Professor Gerald Powell, JD ’77, Recognized by the Texas Young Lawyers Association as Mentor of the Year.

June 17, 2021

Professor Gerald Powell, JD '77, Recognized by the Texas Young Lawyers Association as Mentor of the Year

Professor Jerry Powell teaching in a white suit in his final class
Professor Jerry Powell Makes a Point During His Final Practice Court Class on Friday, April 16, 2021

WACO, Texas -

Baylor Law's Professor Jerry Powell (JD '77) has been selected by the Texas Young Lawyers Association to receive the 2020 Outstanding Mentor of Texas award for his tireless dedication to training, mentoring, and guiding young lawyers. The Outstanding Mentor Award, given annually since 2007, recognizes one attorney each year who has consistently demonstrated a commitment to mentoring young lawyers in his or her legal community.

A Baylor Lawyer who has served on the faculty for thirty-five years, Powell has served as the Director of Baylor Law's highly acclaimed Practice Court Program. He also has served as the Judge Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law, and since 2005, has held Baylor University's coveted Master Teacher designation, the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members.

"Professor Powell has shaped and influenced my life in more ways than we have time for me to describe. I would not be here, literally, if it were not for him. He has opened doors for me and mentored me at each step in my life. Words cannot adequately describe my gratitude," stated Baylor Law's Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Pro Bono Programs Stephen Rispoli who nominated Powell for this year's award. Former student and now co-Practice Court professor Elizabeth Fraley added, "Perhaps no one has influenced my career more than Powell. He taught me evidence and advocacy. He taught me courage and character. He is the mentor I most trust and value, and he is most deserving of this award."

Baylor Law's Dean Brad Toben noted, "Few individuals have had such an immense impact on the training of young lawyers as Jerry Powell. It has been an honor and a privilege to witness the work of this master teacher in the classroom and courtroom." The President of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, Jeanine Rispoli (JD '11) observed, "Powell is both brilliant and terrifying in the classroom and courtroom. What I can see so clearly though is his genuine love for what he does and helping others. He sees potential in us even when we don't, especially when we don't, and he doesn't let us give up."

Earning his bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1974, Powell received his Baylor Law degree with honors in 1977. As a law student, he was a member of the National Mock Trial Team and executive editor of the Baylor Law Review. Following graduation, he joined the Dallas law firm of Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox, where he had an active trial and appellate practice with the firm and was made a partner in 1982. Four years later, Powell returned to Baylor Law School to teach, and in 1987, he was appointed the Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law. Powell is an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates 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.

He has written and spoken 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. His first fiction book, a courtroom drama, of course, The Sporting House Killing: A Gilded Age Legal Thriller was released in early 2021.

Professor Powell has also been actively engaged in the Waco community. In addition to his teaching duties at the law school, Professor Powell teaches adult education classes to senior citizens, helped establish and fund the Doris Miller Memorial, and was active in Boy Scouts for many years. For many years, Professor Powell has volunteered to teach history classes for the local "Lifelong Learners." Through these classes, Professor Powell teaches senior citizens. He also includes them in Baylor Law's Practice Court program as jurors in the mock trial exercises for our law students. All told, Professor Powell has shaped thousands of lives and has had an immeasurably positive impact upon our community and the legal profession.

In October of 2020, Powell was honored with the 2020 Outstanding Mentor Award by the Waco-McLennan County Young Lawyers Association.

Prof. Powell recently shared his thoughts on the 100th Anniversary of Practice Court on 'Baylor Connections,' available on NPR podcasts, here:

"Whether it was on a backpacking trip or a canoe trip, Mr. Powell allowed many young men, including myself, to step up and lead and then learn from our many successes and many mistakes. His calm demeanor and strong intellect allowed for excellent feedback and mentoring sessions that developed us into resilient men of character who could lead when needed but also humbly follow," stated David Tipton, Capt. USAF, former Boy Scout under Scoutmaster Jerry Powell.

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Established in 1857, Baylor Law was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,600 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. Baylor Law boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law's trial advocacy program as number two in the magazine's 2021 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and one of the 'Best Law School Facilities' in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984. Learn more at

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at

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