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Curriculum

Master of Studies in Law (MSL) - On-Campus

To earn the Master of Studies in Law degree, you must earn satisfactory grades in 21 units of studies. Introduction to the U.S. Legal System is the only mandatory course for the on campus MSL degree. The remaining 19 units required for the degree may be taken from the elective courses listed below.

Students may enroll in our on-campus MSL classes only and will take courses alongside on-campus MSL students. Class offerings may change every semester/year.

USC Gould offers on-campus MSL students the option of earning a graduate certificate in Business Law, Human Resources Law and Compliance, or Media and Entertainment Law. Courses may also count toward more than one certificate.

Mandatory

Introduction to the US Legal System (2units)

This course provides students with an in-depth perspective on the U.S. common law system specifically in relation to sources of law and value of case precedent. In addition, students will learn how to conduct legal research with an emphasis on selecting, understanding and interpreting statutes and administrative regulations. Students will also learn how to evaluate the quality of the materials and documents.

Electives

Business Organizations (3 units)

This course examines the legal organizations most often used by businesses in the United States. We will study the specific laws governing business organizations, the policies and theories underlying these laws, and best practices for complying with them. The primary focus of the course is to analyze comparatively corporations, partnerships and hybrid entities. In addition, students will learn basic transactional practice skills by learning how to spot legal issues that concern business organizations at the time of formation, during operation, and when shutting down.

Contract Drafting and Strategy (2 units)

In this course, students will examine the strategies, objectives, and challenges that will affect how contracts are drafted. They will consider factors that influence drafting style, technique, and content. The course will begin by learning the basic features of a contract (how they are formed, breached, and how terms are interpreted). From there, students will analyze the standard structure and terms of a typical contract, including the purposes behind them. Students then will dissect and examine a range of contracts used in business relationships (e.g., business formations, employment, real estate transactions, mergers/acquisitions) to evaluate drafting techniques and decisions in specific transactions. Finally, the students will use the knowledge they have gained to ink a deal.

Corporate Governance (2 units)**

Corporate Governance introduces students to the role and responsibilities of the board of directors and executive management in private, public, and nonprofit entities. The course will examine the purpose, evolution and history of corporate governance standards, the current structure, makeup, priorities and culture of boards, shareholder/stakeholder engagement, shareholder activism, corporate social responsibility, indemnification of boards and their management, and current "hot" topics in corporate governance.

Dealmaking (2 units)

This survey course seeks to prepare aspiring entrepreneurs for dealmaking. Students will learn the nuts and bolts of negotiating a deal with investors by understanding key legal concepts used in drafting business agreements including financing documents, intellectual property and technology licensing agreements, and strategic partnership agreements. With this course, students will also learn what to do before they seek legal counsel, when to seek legal counsel, and what to ask legal counsel. From a practical perspective, students will learn how to run a deal from start to finish while effectively negotiating terms that are favorable to them.

Effective Writing for Professionals (2 units)

This course is designed to study and practice writing in business and legal settings. The premise is to teach students writing structure based on audience, tone, form, and purpose. With business writing, the course will address the fundamentals of business writing including electronic mail, business letters, formal reports and memos, with an emphasis on clear and concise writing. With legal writing, it will address the fundamentals of legal writing including IRAC, with an emphasis on legal analysis as well as clear and consistent writing.

Employment Discrimination Law (2 units)

An examination of how the courts are handling selected, "cutting edge" topics in entertainment law. The topics will include the scope of and limitations on the right of publicity; fair use and parody defenses to copyright infringement; future technology clauses in rights contracts; and copyright and defamation issues arising in the online world.

Entertainment Law (2 units)

An examination of how the courts are handling selected, "cutting edge" topics in entertainment law. The topics will include the scope of and limitations on the right of publicity; fair use and parody defenses to copyright infringement; future technology clauses in rights contracts; and copyright and defamation issues arising in the online world.

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Law (3 units)

Any company wishing to prosper will have to manage efficiently their Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio. For this reason, it has become essential to understand the different types of IP and how they are exploited. This class will focus exclusively on issues related to copyright and fair use, trademark, trade secrets and related laws that seek to protect intellectual property. In addition, students will learn strategies for licensing and enforcing a company's IP.

Human Resource Compliance (2 units)**

Human Resource Compliance explores the key areas within the field of human resources and employment and labor law from recruiting through termination. As the people who comprise the workforce, human resources are the backbone of every organization. Thus, the human resources field is valuable for every business leader and advisor to understand in order to meet the strategic objectives of an organization and to minimize risk. This course will prepare you to advise and support employers in day-to-day management of the workforce by enabling you to spot issues, compose policies and procedures, and develop an appropriate course of action based on legal requirements and best practices.

Introduction to Litigation in U.S. Courts (2 units)**

This class will focus on an overview of civil litigation by looking at the rules, practices and procedures that govern civil disputes. Students will be taught the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and best practices for mitigating and managing risk. This will include two stages of litigation: getting the lawsuit started and moving the lawsuit through the trial court.

Negotiation Skills (2 units)

This course will examine the negotiator's role as a deal facilitator, problem-solver, and conflict manager. Negotiation strategies (such as identifying risks and prioritizing client objectives) will be taught to encourage students to collaborate and compromise towards a mutually agreeable result. Some theoretical concepts or psychological analysis will be taught; however, the emphasis will be on developing a toolbox of negotiation skills and tactics that can be put into practice. This class will be interactive and simulation-based.

Regulatory Compliance (2 units)**

Compliance is the process of ensuring that a company and its employees follow the laws, regulations, and standards that apply to an organization. This course provides students with an examination of various areas of law, regulation, and policies, as well as the ways specific industries utilize compliance protocols or programs. Central principles, as well as the statutory and regulatory framework that governs this growing field of compliance, will be analyzed.

**During the 2024-2025 academic year, these courses will only be offered online.

Certificates

You may pursue one of our graduate certificates concurrent with your studies. Each certificate requires the completion of 12 or more units of law coursework specific to that certificate. There are no additional tuition costs associated with the certificates. Students are limited to pursuing two certificates with their degree.

Business Law Certificate — 12 units

Mandatory

Business Organizations (3 units)

This course examines the legal organizations most often used by businesses in the United States. We will study the specific laws governing business organizations, the policies and theories underlying these laws, and best practices for complying with them. The primary focus of the course is to analyze comparatively corporations, partnerships and hybrid entities. In addition, students will learn basic transactional practice skills by learning how to spot legal issues that concern business organizations at the time of formation, during operation, and when shutting down.

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Law (3 units)

Any company wishing to prosper will have to manage efficiently their Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio. For this reason, it has become essential to understand the different types of IP and how they are exploited. This class will focus exclusively on issues related to copyright and fair use, trademark, trade secrets and related laws that seek to protect intellectual property. In addition, students will learn strategies for licensing and enforcing a company's IP.

Electives (Choose 6 or more units)

Contract Drafting and Strategy (2 units)

In this course, students will examine the strategies, objectives, and challenges that will affect how contracts are drafted. They will consider factors that influence drafting style, technique, and content. The course will begin by learning the basic features of a contract (how they are formed, breached, and how terms are interpreted). From there, students will analyze the standard structure and terms of a typical contract, including the purposes behind them. Students then will dissect and examine a range of contracts used in business relationships (e.g., business formations, employment, real estate transactions, mergers/acquisitions) to evaluate drafting techniques and decisions in specific transactions. Finally, the students will use the knowledge they have gained to ink a deal.

Corporate Governance (2 units)

Corporate Governance introduces students to the role and responsibilities of the board of directors and executive management in private, public, and nonprofit entities. The course will examine the purpose, evolution and history of corporate governance standards, the current structure, makeup, priorities and culture of boards, shareholder/stakeholder engagement, shareholder activism, corporate social responsibility, indemnification of boards and their management, and current "hot" topics in corporate governance.

Dealmaking (2 units)

This survey course seeks to prepare aspiring entrepreneurs for dealmaking. Students will learn the nuts and bolts of negotiating a deal with investors by understanding key legal concepts used in drafting business agreements including financing documents, intellectual property and technology licensing agreements, and strategic partnership agreements. With this course, students will also learn what to do before they seek legal counsel, when to seek legal counsel, and what to ask legal counsel. From a practical perspective, students will learn how to run a deal from start to finish while effectively negotiating terms that are favorable to them.

Negotiation Skills (2 units)

This course will examine the negotiator's role as a deal facilitator, problem-solver, and conflict manager. Negotiation strategies (such as identifying risks and prioritizing client objectives) will be taught to encourage students to collaborate and compromise towards a mutually agreeable result. Some theoretical concepts or psychological analysis will be taught; however, the emphasis will be on developing a toolbox of negotiation skills and tactics that can be put into practice. This class will be interactive and simulation-based.

Law, Social Justice and Diversity Certificate

Gould Courses (Residential) - Select 6 units

Mandatory

LAW-520 Introduction to US Legal System, 2 units (mandatory)

Introduction to the U.S. Legal System introduces students to the legal system in the United States and the distinctive process and methods of American law. The course examines the basic structure and operation of government in the United States, particularly the judicial branch, and will focus on the American method of making, finding and enforcing law. The course provides a basic understanding of the historical context in which the legal system in the United States developed. Further, the course examines the foundational values of American law, such as due process and equality.

Electives (Choose 4 units)

Class offerings change every semester/year. Please consult with an advisor.

Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Courses (Residential) - Select 6 units

Class offerings change every semester/year. Please consult with an advisor.

Human Resources Law and Compliance Certificate - 13 units

Mandatory

Business Organizations (3 units)
Contract Drafting and Strategy (2 units)

In this course, students will examine the strategies, objectives, and challenges that will affect how contracts are drafted. They will consider factors that influence drafting style, technique, and content. The course will begin by learning the basic features of a contract (how they are formed, breached, and how terms are interpreted). From there, students will analyze the standard structure and terms of a typical contract, including the purposes behind them. Students then will dissect and examine a range of contracts used in business relationships (e.g., business formations, employment, real estate transactions, mergers/acquisitions) to evaluate drafting techniques and decisions in specific transactions. Finally, the students will use the knowledge they have gained to ink a deal.

Employment Discrimination Law (2 units)
Human Resource Compliance (3 units)**

Human Resource Compliance explores the key areas within the field of human resources and employment and labor law from recruiting through termination. As the people who comprise the workforce, human resources are the backbone of every organization. Thus, the human resources field is valuable for every business leader and advisor to understand in order to meet the strategic objectives of an organization and to minimize risk. This course will prepare you to advise and support employers in day-to-day management of the workforce by enabling you to spot issues, compose policies and procedures, and develop an appropriate course of action based on legal requirements and best practices.

Negotiation Skills (2 units)

This course will examine the negotiator's role as a deal facilitator, problem-solver, and conflict manager. Negotiation strategies (such as identifying risks and prioritizing client objectives) will be taught to encourage students to collaborate and compromise towards a mutually agreeable result. Some theoretical concepts or psychological analysis will be taught; however, the emphasis will be on developing a toolbox of negotiation skills and tactics that can be put into practice. This class will be interactive and simulation-based.

Regulatory Compliance (3 units)**

Compliance is the process of ensuring that a company and its employees follow the laws, regulations, and standards that apply to an organization. This course provides students with an examination of various areas of law, regulation, and policies, as well as the ways specific industries utilize compliance protocols or programs. Central principles, as well as the statutory and regulatory framework that governs this growing field of compliance, will be analyzed.

**During the 2024-2025 academic year, these courses will only be offered online.

Media and Entertainment Law Certificate - 12 units

Mandatory

Business Organizations (3 units)

This course examines the legal organizations most often used by businesses in the United States. We will study the specific laws governing business organizations, the policies and theories underlying these laws, and best practices for complying with them. The primary focus of the course is to analyze comparatively corporations, partnerships and hybrid entities. In addition, students will learn basic transactional practice skills by learning how to spot legal issues that concern business organizations at the time of formation, during operation, and when shutting down.

Contract Drafting and Strategy (2 units)

In this course, students will examine the strategies, objectives, and challenges that will affect how contracts are drafted. They will consider factors that influence drafting style, technique, and content. The course will begin by learning the basic features of a contract (how they are formed, breached, and how terms are interpreted). From there, students will analyze the standard structure and terms of a typical contract, including the purposes behind them. Students then will dissect and examine a range of contracts used in business relationships (e.g., business formations, employment, real estate transactions, mergers/acquisitions) to evaluate drafting techniques and decisions in specific transactions. Finally, the students will use the knowledge they have gained to ink a deal.

Entertainment Law (2 units)

An examination of how the courts are handling selected, "cutting edge" topics in entertainment law. The topics will include the scope of and limitations on the right of publicity; fair use and parody defenses to copyright infringement; future technology clauses in rights contracts; and copyright and defamation issues arising in the online world.

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Law (3 units)

Any company wishing to prosper will have to manage efficiently their Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio. For this reason, it has become essential to understand the different types of IP and how they are exploited. This class will focus exclusively on issues related to copyright and fair use, trademark, trade secrets and related laws that seek to protect intellectual property. In addition, students will learn strategies for licensing and enforcing a company's IP.

Negotiation Skills (2 units)

This course will examine the negotiator's role as a deal facilitator, problem-solver, and conflict manager. Negotiation strategies (such as identifying risks and prioritizing client objectives) will be taught to encourage students to collaborate and compromise towards a mutually agreeable result. Some theoretical concepts or psychological analysis will be taught; however, the emphasis will be on developing a toolbox of negotiation skills and tactics that can be put into practice. This class will be interactive and simulation-based.

Note: Units earned may not be applied toward a JD degree even if you elect to pursue one at a later time. Courses used toward a degree or a certificate completed at another university may not be applied toward a master's degree at USC. If courses were not used toward a conferred degree or certificate, a maximum of five units may be transferred to our MSL degree.

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