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Student Spotlight: Leonardo Graziottin
USC Gould School of Law

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

An essential element of the USC Gould School of Law’s success is the supportive community fostered among its students around the world. These strong bonds which tie together the Gould Trojan Family fuel the impact and influence of the school’s programs online and on campus.

Meet Leonardo Graziottin (LLM ‘20). In the Q&A below, he shares what made him choose USC Gould, his experience moving his family to Los Angeles and his hope for the future impact of his degree.

 Leonardo Graziottin (LLM ‘20)

What made you begin a legal career in your home country of Brazil?
Legal knowledge is essential in every country. In Brazil, civil law governs; we have detailed codes for everything, so it is important to be aware of your duties and obligations when working in business, or you may face opposition in court or delays to your work. I studied economics and law, and grew up within Brazil’s complex tax system that enhanced my interest about law.

The other thing that piqued my interest in studying law in Brazil was how we can use the legal system to make society fairer, allowing the economy to grow without too much regulation and progress toward meritocracy.

What made you pursue your LLM, and why at USC Gould?
I have worked for Brazil’s Innovative Investment Fund over the last 5 years, where our main goal was to find new projects for government investment. I prepared valuations, due diligence reports and joined international shareholder agreement negotiations, where English fluency and knowledge of global law is mandatory. The knowledge that I will acquire here at USC, during my LLM studies will be essential to my negotiation and contract skills, will improve my legal English, and will enable me to learn subjects in U.S. law related to my field of work, like Business Associations, Compliance, Due Diligence and Mergers and Acquisitions.

I grew up in a middle-class family where my mother taught me to balance life between sports and study. I studied in one of the hardest schools in Brazil and had to find time to maintain my excellence in sports, including swimming and soccer. When making a decision on where to pursue my LLM, I looked for a university that would align with my own experience and passions. I chose USC Gould, to earn my degree at a university ranked at the top of law and sports.

How has it been transitioning from Brazil to living in Los Angeles for you and your family and how has USC assisted you?
To be honest, the first few weeks were challenging for my wife and I. We had our routines, friends, car and house in Brazil, and, suddenly, our life changed completely. The first thing that we had to learn was how to get around. Los Angeles is a huge city, so we bought two bikes. We have been using the bicycles to go everywhere and now we are nearly locals. We both passed the DMV driving test, but at the moment I don’t think we will need a car.

Additionally, the second week we were in LA, USC helped us to find very good housing for our family, and we now have a roomy family home near USC campus.

The other good thing was that USC helped us with access to the USC Village and Lyon Fitness Center, where we could maintain our swimming and gym routines as we had at home. In a matter of two weeks, with USC’s help, we arranged for all of the things that we needed. We have been making new friends and my wife is very entertained with the English classes that USC has provided for her as well. 

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had at USC so far?
Everything so far has been perfect, and what makes my experience here memorable is the quality of studying and the infrastructure that the University has provided for us. USC has a rich atmosphere with great Professors who easily transmit their knowledge to the students. Their pronunciation is so clear that students from different nationalities can easily comprehend all the topics.

I can access different libraries to study, and have access to IT technologies to enhance my legal skills. I will never forget was the John Williams concert with the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl that USC Gould took their students to watch. The Grammy Award-winning composer conducted some of my favorite film soundtracks, including Star Wars and E.T., and we watched parts of the films as the orchestra played the score. Many attendees even brought their own Jedi swords to the concert! 

How will your LLM from USC Gould give you an advantage for your future career? What do you want to do next with your degree?
That question reminds me the slogan of an organization in Brazil, Reaction, that teaches judo to poor students in South America. The slogan, “A man is the size of his dream,” was taken from the title of a famous Portuguese poem by Fernando Pessoa.

So, in line with that slogan, I think that the LLM degree from USC Gould will redefine my career, helping me to take new skills and contribute to making society better through a more fair legal system. After earning my degree, I plan to gain legal practice experience here in the U.S. to continue to grow my English and legal knowledge. 

What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path to yours?
My advice to those who want to follow a similar path is to look for work that make you happy and useful for the broader society; discover your inner skills and it will help you to pave the way for a successful career. Your career should make you fulfilled, and the success will be when you are happy and passionate in it.

Second, even if the future is not clear at the beginning, do not give up when you see the first obstacles. There will be many in your way and the temptation to give up and go home will appear many times. Your path is not a fixed line and storms will change it during the way to help you search a better way.

Lastly, our world is so competitive and you will have to work hard to have the career you want. Our brain has no limits, so FIGHT ON!

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