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Sturm College of Law Welcomes New Dean Bruce Smith

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Madeline Phipps

Smith says innovation, proximity to Denver are Sturm College of Law’s defining features

Bruce Smith

The practice of a great lawyer begins in the classroom. So says Bruce Smith, the Sturm College of Law’s (Denver Law) new dean, who began his official duties July 1. Arriving from the University of Illinois College of Law, Smith comes ready to embrace the challenge of continuing to make Denver Law a highly sought-after place for new law students.

“As a dean, I have always viewed the law school experience through the lens of the law student’s experience,” said Smith. “We’re trying to create the best learning environment that we can. We want to have the greatest expertise on display in our classrooms, highly regard the opinions and values that students bring to the classroom, and connect that classroom experience to the practicalities of great lawyering.”

Smith is aware of the challenges facing law schools across the country. After the recession, nearly every program has had to confront declining enrollment. In this current climate, Smith recognizes his role in making Denver Law attractive to prospective students. “As a dean and as a professor, finding ways to ensure that the return on a law school investment is as strong as possible is a high priority,” he says. “It’s a question of both affordability and placement in the highest caliber of positions one could have.”

The school’s proximity to the city is part of what attracted Smith to the job and what makes the program unique. “The legal community in Denver is incredibly broad in terms of specialty, and sophisticated,” he says. “This is a city where fundamental innovation in legal practice has occurred time and time again.”

That innovation and adaptability are what matters when considering the future of the legal profession. “The way that lawyers organize will be fundamentally transformed in the years to come,” Smith says. Whether that means using collaborative work spaces rather than firms or devoting a law career to advancing technologies that aid the profession, Smith expects students to be open to unique opportunities.

Smith looks forward to the intersection of Denver’s needs with the abilities of Denver Law’s graduating students. “It’s often said that one can never have too many great lawyers, and I’m a huge optimist as the dean of this law school at this place and at this time.”