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.
|Ethical Issues for Nonprofit, Government and Criminal Lawyers (must be taken in the first or second year)|
|Foundational Course (choose at least one)|
|International Human Rights Law|
|Electives (minimum 6 units required)
Courses taken to meet the foundational requirement do not also count toward the elective requirement)
|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|
|Constitutional Theory Seminar|
|Counterterrorism, Privacy and Civil Liberties|
|Critical Race Theory|
|Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution|
|Employment Discrimination Law|
|Federal Criminal Lawr|
|First Amendment: Law and Religion|
|Foreign Relations and National Security Law|
|Global Health Law and Human Rights|
|Health Care Regulation|
|Health Law and Policy|
|International Criminal Law|
|International Human Rights|
|Law and Society|
|Law, Mental Health and Ethics|
|Local Government Law|
|Mental Health Law|
|National Security Law|
|Public Health Law|
|Public International Law|
|Health Law and Policy|
|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|
|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|
|Family Law Mediation|
|Negotiation and Mediation Advocacy|
|Clinical or Practicum Courses (minimum one semester required)|
|International Human Rights 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.
You must meet the upper-division writing requirement with a paper or other substantial writing project written for one of the clinics/practicums or one of the foundational or elective courses. Papers written for courses outside of those listed may be approved as meeting this requirement by petition to the Public Interest Law Certificate Advisory Committee.
You must complete at least 50 hours of pro bono service during your time at USC Gould.
In conjunction with student organizations, the Public Interest Law area of focus will offer a series of speakers and event throughout the year focusing on public interest law, nonprofit and government-sector jobs, postgraduate fellowships and building community.