111 South Ninth Street, Suite 200
Post Office Box 918
Columbia, Missouri 65205-0918

William Jay Powell

William Jay Powell

William Jay Powell

  • University of Missouri-Columbia J.D., cum laude, 1981 (Order of the Coif)
  • Missouri Law Review member and editorial board
  • University of Missouri-Columbia A.B., 1972 (Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi)
  • Cabool (Missouri) High School 1968 (Salutatorian)
Bar Admissions
  • 1981, Missouri Bar
  • 1981, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri
  • 1987, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • 1989, U.S. Supreme Court

Legal Handbook for Freelancers (Outdoor Writers Association of America, 2009)

Justiciability and Foreign Affairs: The Treaty Termination Power, 46 Missouri Law Review 164 (1981).

The Right to Treatment: A Fabled Right Receives Judicial Recognition in Missouri (Eckerhart v. Hensley), 45 Missouri Law Review 357 (1980).

(Assorted articles and materials on estate planning topics, available to clients upon request. For example, see Estate Planning for Missouri Residents updated in 2023).

Contributed 100+ articles to various non-legal publications mostly about outdoor and travel adventures, also history, education, and legal issues.

Currently serve on editorial review board for The Missouri Bar Journal.

Legal Experience

During my employment since 1981 at Smith Lewis, LLP, I have handled various kinds of litigation and trials, including personal injury (plaintiffs and defense), medical malpractice (defense only), trust and estate litigation (plaintiffs and defense and as an expert witness), and business and real estate disputes. Recently I’ve become involved in public utility law matters. I also have considerable experience with alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. Litigation is a smaller part of my current practice as I have concentrated more on estate planning, trust and estate administration, and rendering advice to nonprofit organizations, including various journalists’ and writers’ organizations and entities that serve the disabled and the arts, but my practice remains broad and general.


To professional and civic groups, mostly about various estate planning matters, but sometimes about my various hobbies.

Other Interests, Hobbies and Personal Information

International travel (35+ countries) and international law; backpacking and mountaineering (U.S., Andes, Alps, Caucasus, Himalaya, including climbs of highest mountains in South America, Europe, and Africa); growing grapes and making wine; eclectic reading; school board (12 years) and other local government service on boards and commissions; service on non-profit boards; mental health issues (worked seven years in Missouri’s Department of Mental Health, mostly in the maximum security unit, before attending law school). I’ve given advice about preservation of property of famous mountaineers and authors and other historically important real and personal property.

I was born in Cabool, Missouri, in 1949, am married, and have two sons.

Areas of Practice
  • Estate Planning/Probate/Trusts
  • Real Estate and Land Use
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Personal Injury Litigation