In 2018, two years after D. Gordon Smith became dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, he told an audience of law school advisors, “I want BYU to be known as, if not the most innovative law school in the country, then one of the most innovative law schools in the country.” Now, Smith has announced he is stepping down as dean at the end of this semester, after having been the second-longest serving dean in the school’s history.

So how did he do in pursuit of that goal? During his tenure, he drove a number of innovations around innovation and technology, including the launch of 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. He also served on two Utah Supreme Court task forces that led to the creation of the Utah Sandbox.

Also during his tenure as dean, he more than tripled the amount of scholarships available to students, saw the law school’s national ranking rise from 46th to 23rd, pioneered a law and corpus linguistics program, and launched a global leadership program.

Last week, I was at the school’s Provo, Utah, campus, and I sat down with Smith in his office to reflect on his nearly seven years as dean.

Smith has been on this podcast twice before:

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Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.