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 interdisciplinary curriculum, experiential learning opportunities and specialized areas.
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 and outcomes. 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.
A Passion for Pro Bono Work
- ABOUT USC GOULD
- A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN
- + HISTORY OF USC GOULD
- + NEWS
- + EVENTS
- BOARD OF COUNCILORS
- CONSUMER INFORMATION (ABA REQUIRED DISCLOSURES)
- VISIT US
- SOCIAL MEDIA
- + CONTACT US
Monday, July 15, 2019
Trial attorney preaches the value of giving back.
By Greg Hardesty
At a retreat in November 2018 for leaders of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), the recently installed president of the board of directors of the nonprofit explained why he’s so committed to pro bono work.
James M. Burgess (JD 1990) told his colleagues that in 1994, when he was 32, he found out he was adopted.
|James Burgess JD ’90 is serving a two-year term as the president of the board of directors at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.|
“After I told the story, I said, ‘I know that the circumstances of our birth shouldn’t necessarily decide our future,’” says Burgess, a commercial litigation trial lawyer and partner in the Century City office of Sheppard Mullin. “I was given the benefit of being placed with some great people who gave me enormous opportunities. And I feel like I should pay that back by helping other people who are less fortunate and who may, through circumstance of birth, not have enjoyed some of the advantages I had.”
Burgess, elected to the two-year term at LAFLA on July 1, 2018, spent two years at USC Gould after attending law school at George Washington University. When the woman he eventually would marry accepted a job in California, Burgess followed her.
“I was the last transfer student to be accepted into USC that year , and I was very grateful that they gave me that opportunity,” he says. “It was the time when I probably performed the best as a student. I just loved my time there.”
Raised in a Notre Dame family, Burgess recalls how big of a deal it was when he announced he was becoming a Trojan.
“For my mom,” he says, “it was like, ‘You can turn your back on the church, but don’t turn your back on
Burgess says being raised Catholic — specifically, with the view of putting faith into action — also explains his passion for pro bono work.
He cites another reason for providing free legal services to L.A. County’s most vulnerable residents.
“I’m politically more on the conservative side,” Burgess says, “and don’t always think the government is the solution to every problem. And I feel like since I have that view, then I have a responsibility to do something about it myself. I need to be involved.”
There’s another USC connection concerning LAFLA and Burgess’ appointment.
LAFLA, the largest and oldest provider of free legal services to vulnerable, low income individuals in L.A. County, originated from a clinic in a law school building on USC’s campus in 1929.
“We’re trying to get participation up to 30 hours per attorney per year,” Burgess says of pro bono work in his office, where 92 lawyers work. “One of our goals at LAFLA is to make it much easier for attorneys to plug into the foundation and offer their services for people in need of such things as domestic violence restraining orders and eviction defense.”
Adds Burgess, a father of four daughters: “I’ve always been a person who advocates for other people, even going back to high school. I’ve always said I’m a better advocate for other people than I am for myself.”
Three clients freed from California prisons
July 9, 2020
USC Gould's Post-Conviction Justice Project helps secure second chances for three clients serving life sentences.
A sweeping look at transgender rights
June 30, 2020
David Cruz co-writes groundbreaking casebook, Gender Identity and the Law
In Memoriam: Professor Edward Kleinbard
June 29, 2020
Prof. Kleinbard was an important member of Gould for more than a decade, one of the nation's top tax scholars