PROVO, Utah, March 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BYU Law, a global law school focused on leadership in legal theory and practice, today announced that D. Gordon Smith's term as dean of BYU Law has been extended for an additional five years. In May 2016, Smith was appointed to an initial five-year term. This reappointment extends Dean Smith's potential term through May 2026.
"I am pleased to announce the reappointment of Gordon Smith as your dean for a second term," said C. Shane Reese, BYU Academic Vice President, in a statement to full-time faculty and staff. "I join you in expressing gratitude to Dean Smith for the caliber of his service and for his willingness to continue to serve as dean. I anticipate that he will continue to provide strong leadership to the Law School and valuable service to the entire community."
With Dean Smith at the helm, BYU Law has continued to hire and develop productive and influential legal scholars as faculty members, and has achieved significant accomplishments in the areas of innovation, scholarships and leadership. In 2017, BYU launched LawX, a legal design lab committed to tackling access-to-justice issues with solutions that address pressing legal problems such as debt collection, eviction and asylum. The school has also established the Legal Technology Initiative, which provides students with state-of-the-art technical training, and has recently constructed an Innovation Space in the Howard W. Hunter Law Library that will increase opportunities for students to engage in innovative programs. BYU Law has advanced the discipline of law and corpus linguistics, developing pioneering legal research and fostering influential scholarship and training for scholars, judges and industry professionals. The school also hosts its annual Law & Leadership Conference, inviting leaders to discuss an issue of current importance and how to change the world for the better through legal education. Most recently, the 2020-21 BYU Law & Leadership Conference addressed "Paths to Bar Licensure," following the historic decision by several states, including Utah, to adopt an emergency diploma privilege amid the pandemic.
Under Dean Smith's guidance, BYU Law has tripled the amount of scholarships for students, including the recent announcement of the inaugural Achievement Fellowships Program. A tangible investment in the diversity of Utah's law student population, this full-tuition opportunity was created in partnership with leading Utah law firms to attract, recognize and support students who have qualified for admission to law school in the face of significant challenges or hardships.
Throughout Dean Smith's tenure, BYU Law has continued to elevate student quality with significant increases in median applicant GPA and LSAT scores, which were 3.85 and 166 respectively in 2020. And despite pandemic-related challenges, the Class of 2020 has the best bar passage and employment rate in the history of BYU Law. Clerkships have also increased, with BYU Law students earning highly sought-after opportunities in many federal and state courts. Dean Smith credits a heightened focus on hiring first-rate, highly published faculty and administration to BYU Law's ability to attract top-notch law students.
"I'm honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve alongside an impressive team of faculty, staff and students who jointly contribute to the success of BYU Law," said Dean Smith. "With this team mindset, I believe BYU Law can continue to push the boundaries of leadership, legal innovation and change, not only on the Wasatch Front, but throughout the world."
Looking forward, Dean Smith has his sights set on continuing to push the envelope for legal education reform, innovation and leadership in international legal education with a focus on expanding the school's global footprint. "BYU Law has an incredible alumni and friend network across the world, which offers great potential for us to expand our global leadership footprint and programs," said Dean Smith. The school already has a robust international externship program. Through the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, BYU Law hosts annual conferences and workshops on every continent (save Antarctica). BYU Law anticipates the announcement of several new international programs and leadership opportunities during his second term.
Prior to his initial appointment as dean, he served as an associate dean for faculty and curriculum at BYU Law. An expert in law and entrepreneurship, Smith has written extensively on the role of law in promoting entrepreneurial action, and he co-founded the Law and Entrepreneurship Association. He was also a founding faculty member of the Crocker Innovation Fellowship at BYU. Smith received his bachelor's degree in accounting from BYU and his JD from the University of Chicago Law School. Prior to joining the faculty at BYU Law in 2007, he was a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School. A Delaware corporate lawyer, Smith has published foundational articles on the theory of fiduciary relationships, and he is co-authoring a law school casebook on fiduciary law. Smith also currently serves as a member of the Utah Work Group on Regulatory Reform Task Force committee for the Office of Legal Services Innovation. With an overall goal to improve access to justice, this group reviews applications for innovative legal business models and services, and makes recommendations to the Utah Supreme Court as to which applicants should be approved to offer legal services within the Utah legal sandbox.
About BYU Law School Founded in 1971, the J. Reuben Clark Law School (BYU Law) has grown into one of the nation's leading law schools – recognized for innovative research and teaching in social change, transactional design, entrepreneurship, corpus linguistics, criminal justice and religious freedom. The Law School has more than 6,000 alumni serving in communities around the world. In its most recent rankings, SoFi ranked BYU Law as the #1 best-value U.S. law school in their Return on Education Law School Ranking. For more information, visit https://law.byu.edu.