University of Southern California Gould School of Law
699 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90089
Academics & Programs: Many students come to USC’s Gould School of Law for “the weather,” but all end up “staying for the professors” and “friendly student body.” The faculty here is highly praised as being “very approachable” as well as “brilliant and engaging.” “[They’re] some of the brightest professors I’ve ever had,” says a 2L. “They strike the right balance between learning the material and making sure we stay interested and involved throughout the course.” This enthusiasm extends even to those unhappy with their studies. “I hate law school, but I adore USC,” says a 3L. “USC has made what could have been an absolutely nightmarish three years into a tolerable and occasionally even fun experience. Our students are brilliant, funny, and strange. Our professors are either unapologetically academic or real, live working attorneys with loads of hilarious horror stories and practical advice…When you join USC, you join it forever. And that’s a good thing. Everyone is miserable in law school, but at least here, you can be miserable together.” Students admit that while “there may be the typical ‘red tape’” when dealing with the administration, the school “wants everyone to succeed” and offers “many resources to help students along.” “The administration is very impressive and accessible,” says a 1L. “They are supportive of students making the transition to law school.” Some find that while being “very organized,” the administration can “often treat students like they’re children,” but overall, if students are willing to “ask for help,” the “school administration takes [their] concerns very seriously.”
Most professors are “very influenced by the Law and Economics movement,” meaning that “there aren’t many alternative theoretical perspectives presented convincingly, but they are very good at what they do.” Some students would like to see “more emphasis on teaching practical skills in the practical skills courses,” as well as “higher-quality professors for some of the big, basic bar classes.” Others wouldn’t mind more “criminal law” courses. “Also, there is too much focus on firm practice, with much less attention given to students who aren’t interested in working for a large firm.” The issue of Big Firm versus Public Interest careers is a contentious one at USC Law—many feel that the school “puts too much of a focus on entering the big firm marketplace,” while another majority feels that the school “encourages students to go into public interest.” “I know more people who are going into public interest and governmental positions than working in big law firms,” says a 3L.
It’s no secret that jobs can be scarce in the current economic climate; however, students find that “the location and reputation of the school are an invaluable asset” when job hunting. That said, many students aren’t so impressed with the Career Services department. As one 2L explains, “I’m not 100 percent sold on the effectiveness of the Career Center—it feels like our awesome alumni connections makes them complacent.” On the upside, the office “keeps a constant supply of coffee and hot chocolate,” and at least one student says the “career service people played an essential role in my employment.”
Campus Life/Facilities: Despite being located on a “beautiful campus,” the law building is “outdated” and “unimpressive.” “Most of the classrooms are less than aesthetically inspiring, and are, at times, technologically awkward (as in, plugging in your laptop into the sockets under the tops of desks can bring you dangerously close to violating your neighbor’s very personal space),” explains a 1L. Fortunately, students can find a more pleasant atmosphere and some nice places to eat at the brand new Tutor Campus Center, located just a stone’s throw from the law school. Plus, students are hopeful that a new building is on the way. “Meetings have already been held with students regarding elements they want to see,
USC Law doesn’t just boast a “competitive, yet modest and cooperative student body,” but a “community” otherwise known as “the Trojan Family.” “A lot of emphasis is placed on a sense of camaraderie and that we are all in this together,” says a 2L. “My experience at USC could not be further from those law school horror stories regarding competition…Students routinely share each others’ notes and outlines without a second thought.” The “great” student population is “on the younger side,” but “an amazing social life” is the result. Students are also “very diverse,” and “every student has an interesting background and a different view because of it.”
Thanks to its “tight-knit, family-like atmosphere,” social opportunities “abound for more outgoing students,” but “less socially active students still have a place as well.” By all accounts, the bar reviews, often held at “top Hollywood hotspots,” are “extremely well-attended,” which, according to some, can lead to “lots of intermingling among the law students.” However, it’s estimated that “outside of the weekly bar reviews,” a “good eighty percent of the people at the law school never really see Los Angeles.” “It’s like pulling teeth trying to get people at the law school to do anything that doesn’t involve the chance for alcohol or food (preferably both), which is actually pretty sad, considering the amazing things that Los Angeles has to offer,” says a 2L. Though being in Los Angeles is “great,” the “area around USC is a bit sketch.” But, “once you get over the traffic” and seek out the “diverse, large, and exciting city” of Los Angeles, “You’ll never find yourself at a lack of things to do.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.