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One of the most prominent law schools in the country, University of Southern California Gould School of Law offers a forward-looking, interdisciplinary legal education guided by nationally renowned professors and informed by the diversity of a friendly and collegial student body. Located in the nation’s second-largest city, one of the largest and most dynamic in the world, the school offers myriad opportunities to apply the law to real-world problems through partnerships with some of the world’s leading companies and law firms. Students acquire the experience necessary to succeed as leaders in a global environment through interdisciplinary training and practical application of skills.
Through a wide range of academic programs, USC Law serves the community, sponsors cutting-edge research, provides hands-on learning opportunities to students, and offers timely continuing education programs for professionals. Its interdisciplinary focus stresses the interconnections among law and other areas, from economics and history to public policy and healthcare.
USC Law is known for its diverse student body, its leadership in clinical education, and its tight-knit alumni network composed of national leaders in the legal profession, business, and the public sector. It is the most diverse of the nation’s top law schools.
The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the fall 2011 entering class.
*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.
Approximate number of applications
The above admission details are based on fall 2011 data.
Class Ranking and Grades
USC Law School does not rank its students. However, the law school provides the GPA cutoff for the top 10% of each class. This limited rank information is calculated and published at the end of each academic year.
USC Law’s grading system uses both numbers and letters. Numerical grades range from 1.9 to 4.4 with letter-grade equivalents ranging from F to A+. The system differs from a typical letter-grade system (in which A=4.0, A-=3.7, and B+=3.3, etc.) in that faculty can assign intermediate numbers, such as 3.4. For example, although both 3.3 and 3.4 are grades of “B+”, the 3.4 carries a slightly higher numerical value, and therefore contributes to a higher GPA. This combination of letters and numbers was selected because the letters can be easily understood by all potential employers, while the intermediate numbers allow more gradations and therefore more nuance than a simple system of letters only.
The below chart shows the current numerical and letter grades as well as the equivalent grades on the old 65-90 grading system used for students entering before the fall 2001 semester. These equivalents are provided for informal guidance only. Grades may be reported only in the manner in which they are recorded and displayed officially on the transcript or Record of Academic Performance (RAP). Grades may not be converted from one system to the other for reporting purposes:
Old System Numerical
Current System Numerical Grade
Current System letter Grade
A grade above 1.9 (F) or a grade of CR must be earned to receive credit toward the 88 units required for the Juris Doctor degree. Courses will not be counted towards the JD degree when a grade of 1.9 (F) is entered.
Sometimes students may notice markings other than “CR” or a numerical grade on their records. Other markings which may appear on the transcript or RAP are:
IP - “In Progress”--No grade is yet reported; IP represents the first half of a two-semester course; grade reported at the end of the second semester.
MG - Missing Grade; faculty member did not submit a grade for the student for the course; or faculty member submitted a numerical grade when a non-numerical grade is required, or vice versa.
W - Withdrawal, approved by academic petition to the Registrar, no grade entered.
IN - Incomplete; assigned when work is not completed because of documented illness or other “emergency” occurring after the twelfth week of the semester.
IX- If a mark of IN is not removed within one calendar year it becomes a grade of IX, and is calculated into the GPA as a failing grade.
Grade normalization (Curve)
In order to achieve fairness and consistency across classes and courses, the average and the distribution of grades in the law school courses are controlled following USC Law’s historic grading patterns. Minimum grade required for graduation is 2.60.
Students in the top 10% of each graduating class may be invited to join the Order of the Coif.
Name of Award
Alfred I. Mellenthin Award
Awarded for the highest GPA after two years of law study
ALI-ABA Scholarship & Leadership Award
Awarded to the graduating student best representing scholarship and leadership
American Board of Trial Advocates Award
Awarded to the best third-year student in preparation for trial practice of the law
Barger and Wolen Written Advocacy Award for Best Brief
Awarded for Best Brief and Best Petitioner Brief in the Hale Moot Court Honors Program
Carl Mason Franklin Award in International Law
Awarded for excellence in the field of international law
Awarded for excellence in the field of corporate taxation
Dorothy Wright Nelson Justice Award
Awarded for contribution to the improvement of the administration of justice
Edward S. and Eleanor J. Shattuck Award
Awarded to students who are judged by the faculty to exhibit the greatest potential for becoming outstanding members of the bar
Eleanor Klein Merit Award
Awarded to an outstanding graduating woman
Awarded to assist recent USC Law graduates beginning careers in public interest law
James J. Holbrook Award
Awarded for significant contribution to the Southern California Law Review
Judge Barry Russell Federal Practice Award
Awarded for significant contribution toward the improvement of the administration of justice
Awarded to the four finalists in the Hale Moot Court Honorscompetition
Judge Malcolm Lucas Award
Awarded for the highest scholastic average during first-year
Law Alumni Award
Awarded to the member of the graduating class with the highest academic average in scholarship
Mason C. Brown Trial Advocacy Award
Awarded for the commitment to public interest endeavors and an aptitude for trial work
Miller-Johnson Equal Justice Award
Awarded to a student or students for commitment to civil and social justice while at USC Law
National Association of Women Lawyers
Awarded for contributing to advancement of women in society
Norma Zarky Memorial Award
Awarded for excellence in entertainment law
Peter D. Knecht Memorial Award
Awarded for excellence in contract and entertainment law
Roger Sherman Memorial Prize in Intellectual Property
Awarded for excellence in intellectual property
Warren J. Ferguson Award
Awarded for the best essay on a social justice topic, such as labor, poverty, criminal justice, civil rights, or discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation
The Southern California Law Review, in existence since 1927, is a student-run organization that publishes one volume produced as six separate issues over the course of each year. It strives to publish articles of high caliber that advance legal scholarship and thereby aid in the resolution of contemporary legal problems, to foster a sense of intellectual community and professional camaraderie among members of the law review and the faculty of the law school, and, finally, to train students in the methods of legal analysis and writing.
The Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal was founded in 1978 to assess contemporary society, conceive new and unique legal methodology, and seek solutions to contemporary societal problems. It seeks to do this not from the perspective of traditional legal scholarship but rather by challenging traditional legal scholarship through the perspectives of disciplines upon which the law is premised. As a result, it provides a framework upon which the future of the law must grow.
The Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice promotes the discussion and examination of issues lying at the intersection of social justice and the law. It contains legal narrative and analyses of case law and legislation in order to promote a greater understanding of the law’s interaction with historically stigmatized groups, and potential as an instrument of positive social change. This analysis may borrow from the perspectives of many disciplines. The journal’s goal is to influence the development of the law in ways that encourage full and equal participation of all people in the political, social, civic, and economic life of the country.
USC Law’s Hale Moot Court Honors Program, in existence since 1948, provides students with an opportunity to develop written and oral appellate advocacy skills. During the first year, each student writes an appellate brief and presents an oral argument before panels of student judges. On the basis of their written and oral performance, a selected number of students are invited to participate in the second-year Hale Moot Court Competition.
During the Hale Competition, students write an appellate brief, attend an oral advocacy clinic, participate in videotaped practice rounds, and present their arguments before panels of judges from state and federal courts, practicing attorneys, and faculty members. The Hale Competition culminates with a final round of argument before a panel of distinguished judges. Winners of the Hale Competition represent USC Law in national and state competitions in their third year. The entire program is administered by third-year students.
The National Team consists of third-year students who represent USC Law in national-level moot court competitions around the country.
USC Law offers two types of clinical training: classroom courses that include simulated exercises and supervised casework with actual clients. These clinical training programs helps student to hone their lawyering skills. Through classroom exercises, students use hypothetical case materials in simulated law office and courtroom settings, with actors playing the roles of clients and witnesses. Then, students learn legal skills and principles by working on actual cases for real clients under the supervision of faculty member. It offers the following clinical programs:
Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic
International Human Rights Clinic
Post-Conviction Justice Project
Small Business Clinic
The Office of Public Service is responsible for the coordination and administration of the Judicial and Clinical Externship programs.
Students can receive academic credit for clinical externships by working for a non-profit public interest office or government agency. Students also receive academic credit through an externship with a judge. This program provides a valuable opportunity to observe and affect government and legal processes from within.
The law school offers Clinical Internship Program. Students can participate in government and non-profit organizations.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU @ USC)
Armenian Law Students Association
Asian Pacific American Law Students Assoc - APALSA
Black Law Students Association - BLSA
Christian Legal Society
Critical Legal Studies Association
Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Committee
Entertainment Law Society
Environmental Law Society
Health Law and Bioethics Society
Intellectual Property and Technology Law Society
International Law and Relations Organization
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
Jewish Law Students Association - JLSA
Latino Law Students Association
Legal Aid Alternative Breaks - LAAB
Muslim Law Students Association
Phi Alpha Delta - PAD
Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity
Public Interest Law Foundation - PILF
Real Estate Law
South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA)
Student Bar Association - SBA
Surf Law Society
USC Art Law Society
USC Government Law Organization (GLO)
USC Sports Law Society
Women’s Law Association - WLA
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