About USC Gould
USC Gould is a top-ranked law school with a 115-year history and reputation for academic excellence. We are located on the beautiful 228-acre USC University Park Campus, just south of downtown Los Angeles.
Learn about our rigorous and interdisciplinary curriculum, our invaluable experiential learning opportunities, and the breadth and depth of our specialized areas of concentration and certificate offerings.
- Student Life
Participate in an unparalleled learning experience with diversity of people and thought. Get involved in the law school community and participate in activities that enhance your studies.
We work closely with students, graduates and employers to support successful career goals andoutcomes. Our overall placement rate is consistently strong, with 94 percent of our JD class employed within 10 months after graduation.
Our faculty is distinguished for its scholarship, as well as for its commitment to teaching. Our 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio creates an intimate and collegial learning environment.
- Alumni and Giving
Alumni and Giving
The global Trojan network of more than 10,000 law alumni and donors include recognized leaders in numerous fields who are deeply committed to supporting student and law school success.
- ABOUT USC GOULD
- A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN
- + HISTORY OF USC GOULD
- + NEWS
- + EVENTS
- BOARD OF COUNCILORS
- ABA REQUIRED DISCLOSURES
- VISIT US
- SOCIAL MEDIA
- + CONTACT US
Dean Guzman Makes Clerking a Priority
Wednesday, Oct 12, 2016
Profs. Abby Wood and Sam Erman head clerkship committee
-By Gilien Silsby
It’s a job that lasts only a year or two, but offers an experience that defines a legal career.
Clerking for a judge is one of the most prestigious opportunities for law students, and the benefits reverberate through their profession - whether the goal is to work for a firm, in government or in public interest.
“I have held many jobs, and not all are on my resume. But clerking for my judge is and will always be on my resume,” said USC Gould Dean Andrew Guzman. “It’s an experience that is like no other.”
Encouraging students to clerk is one of Guzman’s priorities, and he has revamped USC Gould’s clerkship program this year to encourage every student to make it a goal.
For the first time in more than a decade, two tenure-track professors - Profs. Sam Erman and Abby Wood - are heading the committee.
|Professor Sam Erman served as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy|
Erman, who clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices, Anthony Kennedy and John Paul Stevens, and current U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, said his clerking experiences shaped him as a lawyer and scholar.
“Clerking forever marks you as an elite lawyer,” Erman said. “Grades drop off the CV. People care less about law review over time. But clerkships remain a coin of the realm.”
Law firms also value associates who have clerked. At a recent reception at USC Gould, attorneys and partners at 11 Los Angeles firms mingled with first- and second-year students encouraging them to consider clerking. (Sponsoring the event were Paul Hastings; Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP; Morrison & Foerster; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Sidley Austin; Sullivan & Cromwell; Kirkland & Ellis; O’Melveny & Myers, Loeb & Loeb; Proskauer Rose; and Reed Smith).
Matt Cave ‘11, co-chair of Gould’s Clerkship Committee and an associate with Morrison & Foerster, told students that nothing prepares a new law graduate like clerking. “You essentially become the judge’s right-hand woman or man. It’s an experience and training that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Peter Brejcha ’09, a senior associate in the litigation practice of Paul Hastings, said his clerkship gave him a solid foundation in legal research, writing and analysis skills. It also gave him an added advantage when he joined Paul Hastings in Los Angeles.
“Law firms universally recognize the value of clerkships,” said Brejcha, who clerked for the Hon. Manuel L. Real of the Central District of California. “Having a clerkship under your belt can help set you apart once you arrive at your firm by making you a go-to associate.”
Paul Rosen ’05, the chief of staff of U.S. Homeland Security, said his clerkship opened many doors, ultimately leading to one of the most powerful jobs in Washington, D.C.
“My clerkship was invaluable; it is the foundation of my professional and legal career. Everything I learned in law school was immediately put to practice, which is not always the case for post-law school jobs.”
Most importantly, Rosen learned from an experienced judge - Honorable Gary Allen Feess - about how to be an exceptional lawyer. “My clerkship was a case study in good lawyering and bad lawyering. Day in and day out I saw what techniques were effective in court and brief writing, and those that were not. Each day we were in trial, presiding over motions, or drafting bench memos and orders. And each day I learned how to be a lawyer myself.”
Joel Purles ’08 clerked for two Ninth Circuit Court judges: The Hon. Johnnie B. Rawlinson and the Hon. Ferdinand F. Fernandez. He has no doubt that his clerkship gave him confidence and made him a better lawyer.
“It provided the passion for the work that I feed upon, it instilled in me the confidence to know I can accomplish it, it taught me how to work harder than even I thought possible, and most importantly it taught me to guide my practice with fairness, honesty, and justice regardless of the circumstances,” said Purles, an associate attorney at Munger, Tolles & Olson.
Amy Proctor ’11, a senior associate at Irell & Manella, learned valuable skills from her clerkship with the Hon. John Kronstadt. "The perspective I gained clerking helped me even when I was handling entirely new responsibilities, like taking my first deposition a few months after starting at Irell. At that deposition, I was able to think about how the transcript might be used to support a motion for summary judgment, which helped me ask better questions and do the necessary follow-up that can sometimes be hard for junior attorneys.
Prof. Abby Wood realizes that a year can seem like a big investment, but she encourages students to take a longer view.
“We know that legal careers are long and varied, and that clerkings’ benefits reverberate through an entire career. There is nothing like clerking for paying career dividends. It truly can take a career to the next level. You learn so much more than you can at a firm in the same amount of time, due to the sheer variety of work. You build connections for life. And you set yourself apart as someone who is serious, ambitious, experienced, and adventurous.”
Students are invited to the panel discussion, “Clerkships: The Best Job You Will Ever Have,” featuring USC alumni who have clerked. The event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at noon in Room 130.
USC Gould Hosts Teen Court
June 16, 2017
Roosevelt High School students hold Teen Court hearing at USC
Learning to Lead
June 14, 2017
USC Gould hosts training for formerly incarcerated emerging leaders
Legal scholar and sociologist recognized for exceptional promise, creativity and achievement