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

First-Year Curriculum

Upon arrival at USC, your English proficiency will be assessed and you will enroll in oral and written English classes through USC's American Language Institute (ALI). This English 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 LL.M. program 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.

  • 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.

  • American Language Institute course

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.

  • American Language Institute course

The second-year curriculum is the same as that offered to students in the one-year LLM degree.

Degree Requirements and Courses

The Two-Year Extended LLM is offered on a full-time basis only and begins in the fall semester. During the first year, you will take a minimum of four units of English language courses and 17 units of law courses. During the second year, you must successfully complete 21 academic units over two semesters. You will complete all of the mandatory courses required for the certificate and degree during the first year, and may choose any elective courses (upon availability) you are interested in and which are available to complete the 21 units required for the degree in the second year.