July 25, 2014
On Being Associate Dean
Posted by Gordon Smith

For the past five years, I have served as Associate Dean of Faculty and Curriculum at the BYU Law School. Dean Jim Rasband announced today that I would be stepping down from that position to resume the life of a regular law professor. Surprisingly, reading that announcement was bittersweet for me.

No law school professor I know aspires to be an associate dean. Over the past few years, whenever I would see Bob Rasmussen, Dean of USC's Law School, he would say, "You have the worst job in legal education." A few years ago Peter Joy, then Vice Dean of Washington University School of Law, distributed to his fellow associate deans a toy fire hydrant with the label "Associate Dean" on the side. You get the idea.

Despite the difficult job description, I have been blessed to work with Dean Jim Rasband, one of the finest people I have ever known, and with Kif Augustine-Adams and Brett Scharffs, who took turns serving as the other associate dean. Working closely with these people has been a life-changing experience for me in every good way that you can imagine.

This has also been a time of great change at BYU Law School. If you are not familiar with BYU Law School, I hope you will look more closely at what we are creating. I am confident that my colleagues, including my successor in the deanery, RonNell Andersen Jones, will continue to move this institution forward, even during this time of great challenges for law schools.

With my release, I will have time to prepare for my new course (with Justice Tom Lee and Stephen Mouritsen) on Law and Corpus Linguistics, finish a few law review articles, catch up on my email inbox, and do some more law blogging. But the best news from a professional standpoint is that I will be on leave during the winter semester. I am planning to workshop a few papers relating to fiduciary law and law and entrepreneurship, and, though my schedule is filling quickly, if you have any openings in your workshop series, I would welcome the invitation.

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