About USC Gould
USC Gould is a top-ranked law school with a 120-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.
USC Gould helps prepare you for a stellar legal career. You can pursue a JD degree, one of our numerous graduate and international offerings, or an online degree or certificate.
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.
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Monday, September 28, 2020
For journalist Ava-joye Burnett, MSL Class of 2020, legal education means better reporting.
Broadcast news reporter Ava-joye Burnett wanted to go to law school to better understand the stories she covered, but she feared putting her passion for journalism on hold for a JD. USC Gould’s Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree offered the perfect solution to deepen her knowledge of government systems while allowing her to continue her work — and she is already seeing an impact.
My name is Ava-joye Burnett. I am currently a news reporter at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, MD. I’m in my final semester of USC’s MSL program! This has been a wonderful ride.
Ava-joye Burnett, MSL ‘20
My first career love is journalism. After years in the industry I still rush back to work after a vacation like it’s the first day of school. In high school, I volunteered with a game show production. I worked behind the scenes and loved the in-and-outs of how the show went from an idea to a plan and then the execution. This show existed long before I became involved, but it developed my affinity and understanding for media production. I then moved on to junior college and then university, where I majored in broadcast journalism. It’s those foundational moments that prepared me for my current profession in journalism.
I decided to pursue my Master of Studies in Law because so much of my work as a journalist requires a deep understanding of our systems of government. As reporters, we are often tasked with learning about a new subject every day, and then accurately relaying that information to our viewers and readers.
I’d considered law school, but knew a grueling three- to four-year process would take the back seat to my first love, journalism. So, you can only imagine my glee when I learned there was a thriving sector for a master’s program which focuses on the law. I’d hit the jackpot. I’d been accepted to a few programs but decided to attend USC. I do not regret it.
This program has enhanced my knowledge of many of the stories I cover, from understanding the risk assessment judges consider during a bail review hearing, to sentencing guidelines, to what actually constitutes the various degrees of a crime.
I feel like I’m peeking behind the doors of how the system works. The truth is, the information had always been there, but this program brilliantly curated a way for professionals like me to develop a deeper understanding of all three branches of government, and how the decisions made within these institutions affect everyday people.
Here’s a quick story for you…I was conducting an interview with two attorneys regarding their client. The person’s case had been in the news. As I worked through my line of questions to get a better understanding of the case, a phrase popped into my head: “contributory negligence.” I remember asking the attorneys if they were concerned a settlement for their client could be diminished if contributory negligence was in play. It was a concept I’d recently learned either in a discussion or live session, but I had no idea my brain had latched on to it until it came flooding back at that moment.
One attorney asked if I was a law student, and I simply smiled. There have been moments like that where information just clicked, and it’s simply because this program had exposed me to the material.
As I start my final semester, I have a confession to make… I am privately dreading the moment when I won’t have cases to read and an argument to defend. How do you continue to hone those skills without a stack of readings, discussions to participate in, assignments to complete, and weekly live sessions? I ask those questions while chucking. Throughout the program I have picked up the phone and contacted professors for their legal analysis on stories I was covering. I predict these relationships will persist even after I graduate.
To learn more about the USC Gould Online MSL program, please visit https://gould.usc.edu/academics/degrees/msl/
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