University of Southern California Gould School of Law Profile, Los Angeles, California |

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Rank 19


699 Exposition Boulevard,

Los Angeles, CA 90089









Overview 2

USC Gould is one of the nation's top-ranked law schools with a 115+ year history and reputation for academic excellence. We are known for our diverse student body, interdisciplinary education and our tight-knit alumni network of over 10,000 professionals throughout the globe. With entering JD class sizes of less than 200 the learning experience is intimate and collegial. Our location in Los Angeles provides unlimited opportunities in one of world's top legal markets. It is home to major entertainment, business and law firms, as well as a gateway to international markets.

The University of Southern California Gould School of Law cultivates analytical ability, ethical values, and a spirit of collegiality that prepare our students for meaningful careers benefiting society. We enrich human knowledge and the principles of justice through superior scholarship.

Founded in 1896

With more than 100 years of renowned legal education, USC Law is an institution that continues to make history, through its philosophy of innovation, and through its people. By the students, for the students, that's the founding premise and guiding principle behind USC Law.

At the end of the 19th century, when there was no formal law school in Southern California, aspiring lawyers prepared by "reading law" at local firms. Then, in 1896, a band of ambitious apprentices brought organized legal education to Los Angeles. Their goal: Create "a school of permanent character," and educate lawyers of exceptional quality. Today's USC Law reflects a distinguished past built on the principles of equity and excellence, and the courage to break new ground.

Student-Faculty Ratio 3


Admission Criteria 4

25th-75th Percentile 162-166 3.56-3.85
Median 165 3.76

Director of admissions David Kirschner
Application deadline April 1

The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the fall 2016 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.

Admission Statistics 5

Approximate number of applications 4526
Number accepted 1357
Percentage accepted 20%

The above admission details are based on 2016 data.

Law School Cost 6

Tuition and fees Full-time: $60,339 per year
Room and board $16,500
Books $1,990
Miscellaneous expenses $4,488

Class Ranking and Grades 7

The Law School grading system uses both numerical grades and letter grade equivalents. 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.

Grade Scale

The chart linked below 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:

Designation Numerical Grade Letter Grade
Highest Honors 4.4 A+
High Honors 4.3 A+
High Honors 4.2 A+
High Honors 4.1 A+
High Honors 4 A
High Honors 3.9 A
Honors 3.8 A
Honors 3.7 A-
Honors 3.6 A-
Honors 3.5 A-
Honors 3.4 B+
None 3.3 B+
None 3.2 B
None 3.1 B
None 3 B
None 2.9 B-
None 2.8 B-
None 2.7 B-
None 2.6 C+
None 2.5 C+
None 2.4 C
None 2.3 C-
None 2.2 C-
None 2.1 C-
None 2 D
None 1.9 F

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 J.D. 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)8

In order to achieve fairness and consistency across classes and courses, the average and the distribution of grades in Law School courses are controlled following USC Law's historic grading patterns.

Honors 9

Graduation Honors:

Honor Name % of Class Receiving Top 10% of graduating class
Order of the Coif 22 Top 10% of graduating class

Awards 10

USC Law offers a variety of prizes, awards and fellowships listed below. All eligible students will be considered for these awards.

Name of Award Awarded for/to
Carl M. Franklin Award Excellence in international law
Kelly Prize Highest GPA during second year
Peter Knecht Memorial Award Excellence in contracts, copyright and entertainment law
Law Alumni Award Highest GPA during law school
Malcolm Lucas Award Highest GPA after first year
Alfred J. Mellenthin Award Highest GPA after first and second years
Dorothy Write Nelson Award Contribution to improvement of administration
Norman Zarky Award Excellence in entertainment law
Shattack Award Leadership
Miller-Johnson Equal Justice Award Contribution and commitment to civil and social justice
Mason C. Brown Award Excellence in trial advocacy and public interest

Journals 11

Southern California Law Review

Founded in 1927 and published six times a year, the Southern California Law Review has one of the highest circulations of any such journal in the nation. Students manage and edit the review with complete autonomy. Members conduct independent legal research, prepare notes and comments for publication, and edit the works of their peers along with articles and book reviews submitted by faculty members and other scholars. The editorial staff also hosts an annual symposium that attracts renowned law professors and practitioners from across the U.S.

Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice

Published three times a year, the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice aims to influence the development of the law in ways that encourage full and equal participation of all people in order to promote positive social change. Review members hold an annual symposium that brings together leading lights from the intersection of law and social justice. Staff members are appointed on the basis of outstanding legal scholarship as well as their Write-on competition entries, and members receive academic credit.

Interdisciplinary Law Journal

Articles for the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal incorporate insights from a range of fields, from economics and medicine to anthropology and security, to assess existing laws and propose reforms. The publication goes beyond interdisciplinary inquiry at other journals to introduce vital ideas pointing the way to the future of legal practice and scholarship. Members edit the journal, write notes for publication and receive academic credit. Staffers are selected from the second-year JD class on the basis of outstanding legal analysis and performance in the Write-on competition.

Moot Court 12

The Hale Moot Court Honors Program, founded in 1948, provides students with an opportunity to develop their written and oral advocacy skills. Participants gain invaluable experience by engaging in oral arguments before judges and practicing attorneys and by drafting their own appellate briefs.

Each spring, all first-year students are invited to compete in Qualifying Rounds conducted by current Executive Board members and the second-year student participants of the Program. During the summer break, the Executive Board then extends invitations to forty first-year students to participate in the next year's Program based on their oral argument scores, their grade on a brief from the Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy class, and their grade point averages. The students who accept the Board's invitation become participants in the Hale Moot Court Honors Program as second-year students.

Each Hale Moot Court Honors Program Competition involves two issues, and every participant drafts an appellate brief on behalf of either the Petitioner or Respondent regarding one of the two issues. In the oral argument portion of the Preliminary Rounds, participants present arguments on behalf of both the Petitioner and Respondent during two separate rounds. During the fall semester, to help them draft their briefs, participants attend an issue clinic and work with Executive Board Editors to create a polished final draft. In preparation for the Preliminary Rounds, they attend an oral advocacy clinic and participate in practice oral argument rounds with Executive Board members. Participants ultimately present their arguments before three-person panels of state and federal judges, experienced attorneys, and faculty members. Based on their Preliminary Round oral argument scores and their appellate brief scores, sixteen of the forty participants are chosen to advance to the Quarterfinal Round. Participants who advance choose their issue and side through a lottery selection for each subsequent round.

During the spring semester, the sixteen Quarterfinalists present their oral arguments and eight participants are chosen for the Semifinal Round. The Competition culminates in March of each year, with four participants competing in the Final Round. The Final Round takes place before a panel of three distinguished judges from across the country, in front of an audience of the participants' peers, professors, and members of the community. Past Final Round judges have included United States Supreme Court Justices, State Supreme Court Justices, and United States Circuit Court Judges. The Final Round judges select the Competition Champion. The Executive Board also presents awards to six participants who have written the best briefs.

At the end of the academic year, participants may apply for positions on the next year's Executive Board. Third-year students on the Executive Board administer the next Hale Moot Court Honors Program.

Third years may also participate on the National Moot Court team. The National Team is composed of third-year students who represent USC Law in competitions against other law students in moot court competitions across the country.

Clinical Programs 13

Our clinical offerings are more in-depth and supportive than those at most law schools, which often provide only semester-long or simulated clinical experiences. Our yearlong clinics provide deep and impactful experiential learning — and often offer a second-year advanced clinic for select students. Our six clinics give students significant experience working directly with real clients under the supervision of seasoned practitioners who are leaders in their field:

  • Immigration Clinic
  • Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic
  • International Human Rights Clinic
  • Mediation Clinic
  • Post-Conviction Justice Project
  • Small Business Clinic

Placement Facts 14

Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)

Private sector (25th-75th percentile) $ 75,000 - $160,000
Median in the private sector $140,000
Median in public service $40,000

Employment Details

Graduates known to be employed at graduation 69.5%
Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation 77%

Areas of Legal Practice

Graduates Employed In Percentage
Law Firms 64.5%
Business and Industry 10.5%
Government 9.5%
Public Interest Organizations 9%
Judicial Clerkships 6%
Academia 0.5%
Unknown 0%

Externships/Internships 15

Judicial and Clinical Externships

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.

Student Organizations 16

  • American Constitution Society (ACS)
  • Armed Forces Law Society (AFLS)
  • Armenian Law Students Association (ALSA)
  • Art Law Society
  • Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
  • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
  • Business Law Society
  • Connecting Angelenos to Resources & Essential Services (CARES)
  • Criminal Law Society
  • Entertainment Law Society (ELS)
  • Environmental & Energy Law Society (EELS)
  • Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Association
  • Federalist Society
  • Government Law Organization (GLO)
  • Health Law Society
  • Intellectual Property & Technology Law Society (IPTLS)
  • International Law & Relations Organization (ILRO)
  • Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
  • Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)
  • Latino Law Students Association (LLSA)
  • Legal Aid Alternative Break (LAAB)
  • Music Law Society
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • OUTLaw
  • Phi Alpha Delta (PAD)
  • Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)
  • Real Estate Law Society
  • South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA)
  • Sports Law Society
  • Street Law
  • Student Bar Association (SBA)
  • Women's Law Association (WLA)