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Curriculum - Extended Master of Laws (LLM)
USC Gould School of Law

First-Year Curriculum

Upon arrival to USC, your English proficiency will be assessed and you will enroll in Academic and Professional Writing or Speaking Skills courses through USC's American Language Institute (ALI). This coursework will prepare you to participate meaningfully in your law classes. Please note that these courses are mandatory unless you receive a waiver, which will be determined by ALI at the time of your assessment. You also will prepare for your LLM studies with coursework that teaches you about the foundational basis of the U.S. legal system.

The first year follows a set schedule of classes:

Fall Semester

  • Academic and Professional Skills for U.S. Law Studies

    This course is designed to help foreign law students succeed in our LLM degree by focusing on and improving students' communication and listening skills. It will help students improve their English in a legal setting by teaching students how to effectively read and brief cases, participate in class discussions, and answer a law school exam. Students will be encouraged to participate and interact in class in order to improve their vocabulary and pronunciation skills through group exercises and class discussions. In addition, students will learn listening strategies and techniques for taking clear and effective notes from lectures. The skills developed in this course will be paired with the substantive material covered in Contracts.

  • Contracts
  • This course covers the law governing private agreements. The course analyzes the criteria for determining whether or not a particular promise or voluntary agreement is legally enforceable and surveys the major legal issues affecting enforceable agreements. Attention will be given throughout the course to the general problems of interpreting contract language, the role of contracts in our society, the conflict between the commercial need for certainty and the demands of individual fairness, and the relationship between contract law and other areas such as torts, property and restitution.

  • U.S. Common Law Analysis and Skills

    Students will learn how to analyze judicial decisions and understand how cases develop the law in the U.S, as well as learn how judicial opinions interact with other sources of law. Students will engage in individual and group supervised analytical exercises designed to develop legal analysis and critical thinking skills relevant to U.S. legal practice.

  • Presentation Skills for International Lawyers

    This course instructs students on the art of public speaking and effective communication in U.S. legal settings. Participants will practice and master public speaking and communicating in a variety of contexts, ranging from informal conversations to legal academic presentations and beyond. In addition to content, the course provides guidance on tone, language, style and delivery. The goal of this class is for members to increase their overall ability effectively to communicate before a broad range of audiences in the U.S. legal environment.

  • Fundamentals of Legal Writing Skills A

    This course is designed to introduce students to the structure of written legal analysis through various commonly used legal communications and documents. Students will develop familiarity with a variety of legal documents including scholarly articles, emails, case law, memoranda, and other written work product.

  • Academic and Professional Writing or Speaking Skills

Spring Semester

  • Academic and Professional Skills for U.S. Law Studies

    Students will focus on the professionalism aspect of the legal culture in the U.S., including academic review and career development. Students will learn how to interact with others in both formal and informal academic and professional environments.

  • Introduction to U.S. Legal System

    Students will cover the basic structure of government in the U.S., including the constitutionally mandated division of power in the federal government and the federal system of power sharing between state and federal systems. A comparative perspective on selected substantive and procedural matters, such as common law reasoning, jury trials, adversary process, and various aspects of civil procedure.

  • Legal Research

    Students will examine the basic sources of law for federal and California jurisdictions, utilizing a vast array of sources from books to computer-assisted research and analyzing research methodology and techniques.

  • Persuasive Advocacy

    Students will learn the fundamentals of persuasive legal advocacy through a variety of group exercises, including written works and presentations. This course will teach students the difference between objective and persuasive styles and help students develop their own effective persuasive technique in a variety of simulated interactions.

  • Fundamentals of Legal Writing Skills B

    Students will build on the tools and skills they learned in Fundamentals of Legal Writing Skills A, and will further refine and develop their legal writing style. Students will draft their own sample documents, including both objective and persuasive legal memoranda, and receive individualized feedback.

  • Academic and Professional Writing or Speaking Skills

In the second year of your program, you may elect to enroll in any of our master of laws degrees, including the 1 Year LLM, LLM in International Business and Economic Law, LLM in Privacy Law and Cybersecurity, and LLM in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Please note that you must complete 21 units for the LLM or 24 units for the specialized LLM degrees during the second year; you may not apply Legal Research and Introduction to U.S. Law towards that unit requirement.

Degree Requirements and Courses

The Two-Year Extended LLM is offered on a full-time basis only and students may begin in the fall semester. During the first year, you will take 17 units of mandatory law courses and up to 4 units of coursework in Academic and Professional Writing or Speaking Skills. During the second year, you must successfully complete the required academic units for your selected LLM over two semesters.

Students admitted to the Two Year Extended LLM may not transfer to a one year LLM after the start of their certificate program. If you are deciding between the Two Year LLM and a one year LLM degree, please contact an advisor so we can assist you with selecting the academic program best suited for your needs.