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.
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.
Public Interest Law Certificate
- + AREAS OF CONCENTRATION
- ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
- BUSINESS LAW
- MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT AND TECHNOLOGY LAW
- PUBLIC INTEREST LAW
- + EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
- UNDERGRADUATE COURSES AND PROGRAMS
- CORPORATE AND CUSTOM EDUCATION
- + NON-DEGREE PROGRAMS
- ACADEMIC CALENDAR
- COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
- BAR ADMISSIONS
Earning a certificate in Public Interest Law in addition to your JD degree gives you extensive preparation for a career in a wide range of organizations, including legal aid providers, public defenders, social justice agencies, nonprofits and foundations, government agencies, international human rights entities, public interest law firms and firms performing pro bono services. It signals to future employers that you have made a significant commitment to acquire substantive knowledge, practical skills and familiarity with the landscape of nonprofit and government law to prepare you for a successful career.
You may earn multiple certificates offered by USC Gould. Some courses count toward more than one certificate.
To earn the certificate, you must take at least 20 units of mandatory, foundational, elective, skills and clinical or practicum courses as outlined below. In addition, you must complete an upper-division writing requirement and 50 hours of pro bono work.
No more than 4 units counted toward the certificate may be taken CR/D/F. Foundational courses may not be taken CR/D/F.
- Administrative Law
- Ethical Issues for Nonprofit, Government and Criminal Lawyers (must be taken in the first or second year)
Foundational Course (choose at least one; may not be taken CR/D/F)
- Civil Rights
- Criminal Procedure
- Employment Discrimination
- Immigration Law
- International Human Rights Law
- Poverty Law
Electives (at least 6 units required) (courses taken to meet the foundational requirement do not also count toward the elective requirement)
- Advanced Legal Writing Practicum
- Advanced Topics in Constitutional Law
- Advanced Topics in Employment Discrimination
- Bioethics and the Law
- Children's Legal Issues
- Children, Sexuality and the Law
- Civil and Political Rights and Liberties
- Civil Rights
- Constitutional Innovation
- Constitutional Theory Seminar
- Counterterrorism, Privacy and Civil Liberties
- Critical Race Theory
- Criminal Procedure
- Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution
- Employment Discrimination Law
- Employment Law
- Environmental Law
- Family Law
- Federal Courts
- Federal Criminal Law
- First Amendment
- First Amendment: Law and Religion
- Foreign Relations and National Security Law
- Global Health Law and Human Rights
- Health Care Regulation
- Health Law and Policy
- Identity Categories
- Immigration Law
- International Criminal Law
- International Human Rights
- Labor Law
- Law and Society
- Law, Mental Health and Ethics
- Legal and Social Determinants of Health
- Local Government Law
- Mental Health Law
- National Security Law
- Negotiation Skills
- Poverty Law
- Public Health Law
- Public International Law
- Race and Gender in the Law
- Refugee and Forced Migration Law
- Sex, Gender and the Law
- Sexual Orientation and the Law
- Stereotypes, Prejudice and the Rule of Law
- Suing the Government
- Topics in Criminal Law and Criminology
- Treating Difference Equally
- U.S. Foreign Policy and International Law
- Wage Theft
Skills Courses (minimum 2 units required)
- Advanced Legal Writing: Appellate Advocacy
- Advanced Legal Writing: Partnership with Public Counsel
- Advanced Legal Writing for Pretrial Practice
- Child Interviewing Seminar
- Deposition Strategies
- Family Law Mediation
- Negotiation and Mediation Advocacy
- Pretrial Advocacy
- Trial Advocacy
Clinical or Practicum Courses (minimum one semester required)
- Immigration Clinic
- International Human Rights Clinic
- Mediation Clinic
- Post-Conviction Justice Project
- Access to Justice Practicum
- Legislative Policy Practicum
- Medical-Legal Partnership Seminar and Practicum
- Externship with a qualifying organization (including international human rights or war crimes tribunal) if clinics/practicums are full
Not all courses are offered every year.
You may petition for approval to count elective courses not on the above list that are offered by the law school or another USC school.
Public Interest Law Certificate students may desire to pursue coursework in subjects not currently in our regular curriculum. In this event, the certificate's Advisory Committee will assist the academic dean in determining whether demand is sufficient to warrant engaging an adjunct or visiting professor to offer such a course on a one-time or more frequent basis.
Upper Division Writing Requirement
You must meet the upper-division writing requirement with a paper or other substantial project written for a clinic/practicum or a foundational or elective course. Papers written for other courses may meet this requirement via petition to and approval by the Public Interest Law Certificate Advisory Committee.
Pro Bono Requirement
You must complete at least 50 hours of pro bono service during your time at USC Gould.
L.A. is one of the best public interest communities in the country. We have some of the nation's most important problems and a large, diverse, passionate, dedicated group of people working on them. Whether it's civil rights, poverty, school reform, immigrant justice, wage theft, or a myriad of other issues, we have organizations and resources and great advocates working here.
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