Scranton PA Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Powell: Following in His Father’s Footsteps
For more than 25 years, Mark Powell has been standing up for victims of wrongdoing and protecting the rights of his clients, following in the storied footsteps of his father, the legendary Lackawanna County trial lawyer Christopher T. Powell Sr.
“I was born to be a trial lawyer,” says Mark. “Both my father and grandfather were trial lawyers in Lackawanna County, and they were my heroes. There’s a lot to know to be a great trial lawyer, but for me, it’s all about helping people who are going through a tough time and need a lawyer to stand by their side. It’s about giving a voice to the voiceless, while upholding our Constitution.”
Upon graduating law school, Mark began to practice law in his family firm.
“I was given a unique opportunity working in a family-run firm,” he says. “I had my first felony jury trial shortly after passing the bar. As a result, I became very comfortable in a courtroom. It’s really where I’m happiest because it’s what I love to do. It has also afforded me the insight of seeing both sides of issues because I’ve defended and prosecuted cases. For example, I have represented victims of sexual assault and defended those accused of this heinous crime.”
Mark says having the experience of working both sides of a case has made him a better trial lawyer “because you know every vantage point.” In his current practice, Mark examines witnesses just about every day of the week in some kind of legal setting, such as sworn depositions, court hearings and jury trials. He has tried cases in Common Pleas Courts in all six counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
After practicing several years and gaining significant trial experience, Mark returned to school at Temple Law School and earned his Master of Laws degree in Trial Advocacy, an advanced academic degree few lawyers in the country hold.
“It was a fantastic program – a very practical program that was taught by some of the best trial lawyers in the state,” he says. “You had to perform in every class and then you were critiqued by experienced trial lawyers whose goal it was to tear you down and make you a stronger advocate. We also tried cases before jurors and then had the opportunity to talk to those jurors to learn what worked and what didn’t work. You just can’t gain that type of experience by trying cases. You need both training and trial experience to be your best. Otherwise, you are destined to repeat your mistakes.”
From the time he was a boy, Mark can remember wanting to be a lawyer. “I really just wanted to be like my dad,” he says. The youngest of five children, Mark spent a lot of time shadowing his father, visiting clients at their homes, working in his office and studying him in court.
A hard-nosed lawyer in the courtroom, Mark grows sentimental when he talks about his dad. Although they never got the chance to practice together – his father died during Mark’s third year in law school – “there’s not a day goes by that I don’t recall his words of wisdom or some lesson he taught me. He’s here with me every day.”
There’s also no doubt that his father would be proud of the lawyer Mark has become. Mark is the only attorney in Northeastern Pennsylvania to hold a dual certification as both a Criminal Trial Specialist and Civil Trial Specialist from the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and a Master of Laws in Trial Advocacy. To be Board Certified, an attorney must document jury trial experience and obtain reviews from the judges and lawyers who were involved in the litigation. Each certification also required Mark to pass a written exam similar to the state’s bar exam, but specific to evidence, trial practice and ethics.
“There is no overlap maintaining two certifications,” he says. “I must continue to document my proficiency in both fields, which requires twice the continuing legal education, trial days and recommendations from my peers.”
In addition to his busy law practice, Mark spends a great deal of time teaching other lawyers how to try cases, frequently lecturing at Temple and Georgetown Universities for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Mark knows the value of hard work and begins his day well before sunrise. He believes that you can overcome any obstacle if you are willing to work hard enough at it. Through the years, he has successfully represented thousands of seriously injured clients and their families, as well as defendants in all types of criminal cases.
Mark and his four siblings, Chris Jr., a partner in Powell Law, Patrice Klingler, Tom and Joe, were born and raised in a working-class neighborhood in Moosic. Mark went to Riverside High School where he was co-captain of the varsity basketball team and made the winning shot with six seconds left on the clock to beat Bishop O’Hara in the league championship game. The headline in The Scranton Times read, “Powell Vikings Hero.” He was named Best Offensive Player of the Year and won a spot on the Lackawanna All-Star Team. In addition to his athletic achievements, Mark excelled academically and won first place in the statewide “Mr. Future Business Leader of America” interview contest.
After graduating from Riverside, Mark attended Villanova University where he met his future wife, Donna. He went on to law school at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where his father, cousin Jim Powell, and law partner Jim Mundy had earned their law degrees.
Outside his professional life, Mark is devoted to his community and is actively involved in several civic organizations. He is committed to helping children afford higher education, and he and his firm have established and continue to contribute to scholarship funds for local Lion’s Clubs and Vikings Helping Vikings. He is the president of the Moosic Youth Center and was the past president of the Moosic Lions Club. Mark coached basketball in the community from Biddy Basketball to an assistant varsity high school coach. He is also active in his local parish where he served as an altar boy in his youth and now, as a parishioner, assists with the annual church picnic and ministry for expectant parents.
Mark’s greatest joy is his family. He married his college sweetheart in 1991 and they have four children, Patrick James, Maura, Ryan Christopher, and Maggie. They live in Moosic and enjoy running, cycling and skiing together.
EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATIONS
- Villanova University, Bachelor’s of Arts
- Catholic University Law School, Juris Doctorate
- Temple University Law School, Master of Laws in Trial Advocacy with Honors
- Board Certified as Civil Trial Specialist by National Board of Trial Advocacy, 2006-
- Board Certified as Criminal Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, 2008-
- National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 PA Lawyers, 2011-
- Fellow, The National College of Advocacy, 2015-
- Fellow, The American College of Board Certified Attorneys, 2013-
- Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, Hearing Committee Member, 1996-02; 2004-10
- Pennsylvania Association for Justice - Member; Board of Governors, 2004-08; 09-13
- Pennsylvania Bar Association - Civil Litigation Counsel, 2011-14; House of Delegates, 2014 - ; Federal Practice Committee, 2014- ; Judicial Evaluation Investigative Division, 2014-
- Northeastern Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association - Member; President, 2002; Recipient, Lawrence W. Roth Award, 2005
- National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Faculty Designation, 2007-
- Lackawanna Bar Association – Member; Co-Chair, Bench Bar Educational Conference, 1999-06
- Licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New York
- Advanced Trial Skills, National Institue for Trial Advocacy, Washington, D.C., November 2015
- Advanced Trial Skills, NITA, Washington, D.C., November 2014
- Focus Groups, Committee Justice For All, October 2014
- Trial Advocacy Georgetown Law School, NITA, June 2014
- Advanced Trial Skills, Washington, D.C., NITA, November 2013
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2013
- Advanced Trial Skills, Washington, D.C., NITA, October 2012
- Advanced Trial Skills, Washington, D.C., NITA, October 2011
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2011
- Advanced Trial Skills, Washington, D.C., NITA, October 2010
- Expert Witnesses, CJA, September 2010
- Trial Advocacy, Georgetown Law School, NITA, June 2010
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2010
- Advanced Trial Skills, Georgetown Law School, NITA, October 2009
- Auto Law, Pennsylvania Association for Justice, December 2008
- Advanced Trial Skills, Washington, D.C., NITA, October 2008
- Advanced Trial Skills, Georgetown Law School, NITA, October 2007
- Trial Advocacy, Georgetown Law School, NITA, June 2007
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2007
- Trial Advocacy, Georgetown Law School, NITA, June 2006
- Distribution Dilemmas, Course Planner, Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, March 2006
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2006
- Advanced Trial Skills, Georgetown Law School, NITA, October 2005
- Depositions, Georgetown Law School, NITA, August 2005
- Trial Advocacy, Georgetown Law School, NITA, June 2005
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2005
- High-Tech Exhibits, Lackawanna Bar Association, October 2004
- Premises Liability, Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, September 2004
- Depositions, Georgetown Law School, NITA, August 2004
- Depositions, Temple Law School, NITA, January 2004
- Premises Liability, Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, September 2003
- Bad Faith, National Business Institute, May 2001
- Auto Negligence, Lackawanna Bar Association, October 2000
- Moosic Youth Center, President and Member of Board of Directors
- Moosic Lions Club, Past President and Member
- Vikings Helping Vikings, Charter Member
- Former Basketball Coach for Riverside Junior High, Riverside Youth Basketball, Taylor Community Center and Moosic Youth Center
- PA Personal Injury
- Criminal Law