James D. Gordon III

Professor of Law Emeritus

James D. Gordon III was Marion B. and Rulon A. Earl Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. He also served as Assistant to the President for Planning and Assessment at Brigham Young University, as Interim Dean and as Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum at the law school, and as Associate Academic Vice President for Faculty at BYU.

Students enjoyed Professor Gordon’s fresh and creative teaching style. He infused wit and wisdom into the classroom as well as into his writing. His book Law School: A Survivor’s Guide (HarperPerennial 1994) and essay How Not to Succeed in Law School, 100 Yale L.J. 1679 (1991), provide humorous insights into surviving law school. Professor Gordon received a BYU Student Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching, and was named as a Professor of the Year at the law school several times. He also received an Abraham O. Smoot Citizenship Award from the university.

Before joining the BYU faculty, Professor Gordon was an associate at the Salt Lake City law firm of Rooker, Larsen, Kimball & Parr. He served as a law clerk to Judge Monroe G. McKay of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Courses Taught

  • Contracts
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Professional Seminar
  • Securities Regulation
  • Business Associations
  • Introduction to Legal Research and Writing
  • Sales
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Issues in Legal Education


  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 1980
  • B.A., Brigham Young University, 1977


  • Books
  • Law School: A Survivor’s Guide (Harper Perennial 1994); excerpted in The Docket, Feb. 15, 2001 (George Mason U. School of Law); excerpted in Enter to Learn 246-51 (Gary Layne Hatch & Danette Paul eds., 1999); excerpted in The Commentator, Aug. 1995, at 13 (Southwestern U. School of Law); excerpted in Nat’l Jurist, June/July 1994, at 6, 60.
  • Law Review Articles and Essays
  • Defining a Common Enterprise in Investment Contracts, 72 Ohio St. L.J. 59 (2011); republished in Securities Law Review 2012 (Donald C. Langevoort, ed., 2012).
  • Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, Values, and Professionalism, 59 J. Legal Educ. 151 (2009).
  • Acorns and Oaks: Implied Rights of Action Under the Securities Acts, 10 Stan. J.L. Bus. & Fin. 62 (2004).
  • Individual and Institutional Academic Freedom at Religious Colleges and Universities, 30 J.C. & U.L. 1 (2003); republished in Academic Freedom and Tenure: A Legal Compendium, 363-407 (Steven G. Olswang & Cheryl A. Cameron, eds., 2006).
  • Toward Diverse Diversity: The Legal Legitimacy of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 25 J.C. & U.L. 697 (1999) (with W. Cole Durham, Jr.).
  • The New Free Exercise Clause, 26 Cap. U. L. Rev. 65 (1997).
  • The Importance of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, 37 Cath. Law. 183 (1996); republished in Clark Memorandum, Fall 1997, at 8.
  • Wisconsin v. Yoder and Religious Liberty, 74 Tex. L. Rev. 1237 (1996).
  • An Insider’s Guide to the Faculty Recruitment Conference, 43 J. Legal Educ. 301 (1993).
  • Humor in Legal Education and Scholarship, 1992 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 313.
  • An Unofficial Guide to the Bill of Rights, 1992 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 371.
  • A Bibliography of Humor and the Law, 1992 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 427.
  • How Not to Succeed in Law School, 100 Yale L.J. 1679 (1991); republished in The Villanova Docket, Aug.-Dec. 1992; republished in The Docket, Jan.-Oct. 1992 (Denver Bar Ass’n); excerpted in 25 U. Balt. L.F., Sept. 1994, at 33; excerpted in Zygmunt J.B. Plater et al., Environmental Law and Policy: A Coursebook on Nature, Law, and Society 100 (1992); excerpted in The Docket, Aug. 1991, at 9 (George Mason U. School of Law); excerpted in Wash. Post, July 7, 1991, at B1; quoted in Fred R. Shapiro, The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations 30-31, 262 (1993).
  • Free Exercise on the Mountaintop, 79 Cal. L. Rev. 91 (1991).
  • Consideration and the Commercial-Gift Dichotomy, 44 Vand. L. Rev. 283 (1991).
  • Law Review and the Modern Mind, 33 Ariz. L. Rev. 265 (1991); excerpted in The University of Chicago Law Review Handbook for Staff Members, Volume 72, at v (2004-05).
  • A Dialogue About the Doctrine of Consideration, 75 Cornell L. Rev. 987 (1990); excerpted in Perspectives on Contract Law 183-200 (Randy E. Barnett ed., 1995).
  • Interplanetary Intelligence About Promissory Notes as Securities, 69 Tex. L. Rev. 383 (1990); republished in 24 Securities L. Rev. 3 (1992); republished in 34 Corp. Prac. Commentator 147 (1992); excerpted in James D. Cox et al., Securities Regulation: Cases and Materials 205-06 (1991), 196-97 (2d ed. 1997), 187-89 (3d ed. 2001).
  • Teaching Parol Evidence, 1990 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 647.
  • Pre-Election Judicial Review of Initiatives and Referendums, 64 Notre Dame L. Rev. 298 (1989) (with David B. Magleby).
  • An Integrated First-Year Legal Writing Program, 39 J. Legal Educ. 609 (1989).
  • Common Enterprise and Multiple Investors: A Contractual Theory for Defining Investment Contracts and Notes, 1988 Colum. Bus. L. Rev. 635.
  • Flying into Blue Sky: Aircraft Leasebacks as Securities, 35 UCLA L. Rev. 779 (1988); excerpted in Gen. Aviation News & Flyer, Nov. 1990, at 17.
  • Book Reviews
  • Cardozo’s Baseball Card, 44 Stan. L. Rev. 899 (1992) (reviewing Richard A. Posner, Cardozo: A Study in Reputation (1990)).
  • Oh No! A New Bluebook!, 90 Mich. L. Rev. 1698 (1992) (reviewing The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (15th ed. 1991)).
  • Other Publications
  • The Joy of Education and Lifelong Learning, in Brigham Young University 2012-2013 Speeches 355 (2013).
  • Individual and Institutional Academic Freedom, 49 BYU Studies 43 (2010); republished in Inquiry, Scholarship, and Learning and Teaching in Religiously Affiliated Colleges and Universities 43 (2010).
  • Lawyers and the Rule of Law, Clark Memorandum, Spring 2009, at 2; republished in Life in the Law: Service & Integrity 295-302 (Scott W. Cameron et al. eds., 2009).
  • The Profession Everyone Loves to Hate, Clark Memorandum, Fall 1995, at 10.
  • Foreword to My First Year as a Lawyer vii (Mark Simenhoff ed., 1994).
  • George H. Brimhall: The Man and the Vision, 47 Brigham Young Mag., Nov. 1993, at 38.
  • Deconstruction Letters, 17 Nova L. Rev. 994 (1993) (with Kenney Hegland).
  • The Trials of Reforming Legal Education, Chron. Higher Ed., Jan. 22, 1992, at B1.
  • Even Trivial Government Interests Prevail Over Religious Freedom Under Court Rule, Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 10, 1991, at A31.
  • Humor in Law Teaching, Clark Memorandum, Spring 1991, at 2; republished in 45 BYU Today, July 1991, at 18.
  • Comment, Double Jeopardy and Appeal of Dismissals: A Before-and-After Approach, 69 Cal. L. Rev. 863 (1981).


  • Marion B. and Rulon A. Earl Professor of Law, 2006-19; Professor of Law, 1989-2019; Associate Professor, 1986-1989; Visiting Assistant Professor, 1984-1986; J. Reuben Clark Law School
  • Assistant to the President for Planning and Assessment, Brigham Young University, 2010-19
  • Interim Dean, J. Reuben Clark Law School, 2008-2009
  • Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, J. Reuben Clark Law School, 2004-2008
  • Associate Academic Vice President for Faculty, Brigham Young University, 1996-2000
  • Associate, Rooker, Larsen, Kimball & Parr, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1981-1984
  • Law Clerk to Judge Monroe G. McKay, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 1980-1981