Scranton Criminal Attorney & PA Personal Injury Lawyer Chris Powell: Raising the Bar Sky High
On any given weekend when the weather is nice, Chris Powell’s head is likely to be in the clouds – literally.
That’s because Chris, when he isn’t immersed in preparing clients’ cases for trial or managing the family law firm, likes to spend his leisure time flying his single-engine Cessna 182. It’s a pastime that allows him to take his mind off his practice and business.
“For me, flying is an escape,” he says. “Some guys like to play golf, hunt or fish. I’d rather fly. It takes my mind off of everything else because you have to stay focused every second.”
Chris started flying in the early 1990s through a confluence of events – a friend had bought a plane and took him for rides, and he acquired a client who was a flight instructor. He started taking lessons at Seamans Airport in Factoryville and he was hooked. By the time he got his pilot’s license, he had logged more than 400 hours in the cockpit.
As a pilot, he has flown extensively for business and pleasure, often transporting colleagues to court hearings and political candidates between campaign stops. He has flown up and down the Eastern Seaboard, as far west as Green Bay, Wis., and as far south as New Orleans.
Through his flying experience, he has become a volunteer for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association support network for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Airport, and in that capacity, he has been involved in several legal actions before the Federal Aviation Administration.
The eldest of five children, Chris was born in Philadelphia where his father, the legendary Scranton trial lawyer Chris Powell Sr., was working for the U.S. Department of Labor. Shortly after Chris’ birth, his father was transferred to Washington, D.C., where the family lived until Chris was six years old. At that time, his uncle, James J. Powell Jr., who was running the family law firm, had developed health problems and asked his father to come home.
Chris spent the rest of his childhood in the Minooka section of Scranton and graduated from South Scranton Central Catholic High School. As a freshman in high school, he got called to the principal’s office and the principal, observing Chris’ skillful appeals, sent him to see the coach of the school’s Speech and Debate Team.
Chris joined the team and, during his senior year, he led it to the school’s first-ever Diocesan Debate Championship. As a result, he won a trip to the National Debate Championship in New Orleans where, he remembers with a laugh, his team got trounced. New Orleans, however, would make a curtain call.
Chris wanted to go to the University of Scranton and be a member of its debate team in the worst way, but ultimately he decided on Villanova University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in speech. Because of his love of debate and his family history, the law was Chris’ natural calling.
“As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer – at least since I got called to the principal’s office in ninth grade,” he says, chuckling.
Having been fascinated by New Orleans in high school, Chris decided on Loyola University Law School where he competed on the National Trial Team during his senior year, winning honors for products liability during regional competitions in Dallas.
After law school, he returned to Scranton to practice in the family firm with his father and cousin, James J. Powell III. He practiced 12 years with his father before his death, and recalls learning a lot from watching him in the courtroom.
“He taught me how to command a courtroom,” Chris said. “When he walked into a courtroom, he controlled the entire place. He also taught me the art of talking to a jury before the age of Powerpoint – how to paint pictures with words.”
Chris handles all types of personal injury cases and has established a reputation as one of the premier criminal defense attorneys in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
He and his wife, Amy, live in Minooka with their two children, Kelsey and Christopher III, and he is active in Democratic politics.
EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALS
- Villanova University, Bachelor of Arts, 1975
- Loyola University, Juris Doctorate, 1978; Phi Alpha Delta; Member, National Trial Team; Recipient, Products Liability Award, 1978
- Admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, 1978
- Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Panel Member
- Lackawanna Bar Association
- Pennsylvania Bar Association
- Pennsylvania Association for Justice (formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association), Board of Governors, 1983-1987
- Northeastern Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association
- American Association for Justice (formerly The Association of Trial Lawyers of America)
- Lawyer Pilot Bar Association
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- National Transportation Safety Board Bar Association
- Old Forge Planning Commission, Solicitor, 1980-1986
- Old Forge Zoning Board of Appeals, Solicitor, 1980-1986
- Greenwood Hose Company, Solicitor, 1985-Present
- Moosic Borough Planning Commission, Solicitor, 1996-Present
- Magisterial District Court 45-1-01, appointed to serve unexpired term, 1987
- Humane Society of Lackawanna County, Board Member and General Counsel, 1996-1999
- Scranton Criminal Law
- PA Personal Injury