James Backman

Stephen L. Richards Professor of Law

James Backman, the Stephen L Richards Professor of Law, has been instrumental in providing thousands of students with learning experiences through practice-related externships. After 19 years of teaching property law, he began one of the most successful models for a law externship program in the country. Today, the school now has one of the largest credit-granting externship programs based on percentage of participating students and the largest international externship program in the American law school community.

Professor Backman joined the BYU faculty in 1974. He served as the original editor-in-chief of the BYU Law Review (1974). He was founding director of BYU's Jacobsen Center for Service and Learning and university director of BYU’s Office of Academic Internships. He founded the Law School Placement Office (1974), the BYU Journal of Public Law (1975), the LL. M. program for visiting foreign lawyers (1986), the externship program (1992) and the BYU International Law and Management Review (2003).

Professor Backman was a co-chair of the successful New Lawyer Training Program (beginning in 2009) for the Utah State Bar. He currently serves as co-chair of a Pro Bono Commission committee designing judge-led Pro Bono Committees in each of the eight Utah judicial districts. He is also Vice President of Timpanogos Legal Center providing pro bono legal services in Utah County.

Professor Backman is married to Lynn Kimball Jones. He is the father of six children and three step-children and the grandfather of 17 grandchildren and eight of Lynn's grandchildren.

About the Stephen L Richards Professorship

Named for a highly respected attorney who was for many years a member of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Stephen L Richards Professorship provides both inspiration and incentive for teaching, scholarship, and other forms of educational and professional achievement consistent with the religious and ethical values for which the Richards name stands.

Stephen L Richards demonstrated remarkable ability and exemplary commitment as an attorney, general authority, and individual throughout his life. He led a life of high moral and ethical values, always retaining with him a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as a respect and admiration for the laws of the United States. His life is a great example to the faculty and students of the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Contact Information


  • Externships and New Lawyer Mentoring: The Practicing Lawyer's Role in Educating New Lawyers, 24 BYU J. of Public Law 101 (2010).
  • Practical Examples for Establishing an Externship Program Availible to Every Student, 14 Clinical L. Rev.1 (2007).
  • Where do Externships Fit? A New Paradigm Is Needed: Marshaling Law School Resources to Provide an Externship for Every Student, 56 J. Legal Educ. 615 (2006).
  • The Practical Location of Boundaries--The Need for a Remedy through Adverse Possession, 1986 B.Y.U. Law Review 957.
  • Public Land Law Reform: Reflections from Western Water Law, 1982 B.Y.U. Law Review 1.
  • Book Review, "Modern Mortgage Law and Practice" by Robert Kratovil and Raymond Werner (2nd ed 1981) in Real Estate Law Journal (1982)..
  • Landlord-Tenant Law: A Perspective on Reform in Utah, 1981 Utah Law Review 727.
  • "The Ins and Outs of Bankruptcy", Readers Digest Family Legal Guide 101 (1981).
  • The Tenant As a Consumer? A Comparison of Developments in Consumer Law and in Landlord/Tenant Law, 33 Oklahoma Law Review 1 (1980).
  • Consumer Credit and the Learned Professions of Law and Medicine, 1976, B.Y.U. Law Review 783.
  • Utah's Proposed Federally-Based Individual Income Tax, 1971 Utah Law Review 493.
  • Comment, Testing Devices and Equal Employment Opportunity: Role of the Courts in Achieving Compatibility, 1970 Utah Law Review 646.