Judge David N. Smith spent 23 years teaching students at East Central University, covering subjects such as American government, legal research and constitutional law.
In 1990, Smith launched a full-time legal practice in Ada. He originally specialized in family, Social Security and elder law because they offered opportunities to help people. He later found there were not enough elder-law cases to justify specializing in that area, so he branched out into probate law.
“In family law, you’re doing things like guardianships, adoptions, divorce, custody, visitation, child support issues,” he said Wednesday. “You’re trying to help, in many cases, children — make sure the children are taken care of in guardianship cases and custody cases.
“And in Social Security, you’re helping people with disabilities to petition to get benefits under the federal act that would allow them to live a simple but adequate life and provide medical care for their disabilities.”
Now, Smith is applying his skills in a new area.
Smith, 62, recently moved to Claremore to accept an appointment as a special district judge for the 12th Judicial District. He was sworn into office Sept. 27 at the Rogers County Courthouse.
Smith is one of six judges in the 12th Judicial District, which covers Rogers, Mayers and Craig counties. He is assigned to the family law docket, reflecting his experience in that field.
Smith said he applied for the position because it represented another opportunity to serve Oklahomans.
“I’m using the set of skills that I’ve developed over the more than 30 years I’ve been an attorney, and I’m using those skills in a different way,” he said. “Formerly, I was an advocate for my clients, and now I’m listening to advocates advocate for their clients and then making a decision between the advocates.”
As a district judge, Smith typically arrives at his office by 8 a.m. and remains at work until 5:45 or 6 p.m. each day. He handles three dockets each week — temporary orders, protective orders and pretrial conferences.