The University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law LLM (Master of Law) program is seeing a rising interest from Japanese applicants year over year thanks to a strong and supportive LLM alumni network. The self-starting LLM alumni group in Japan hosts annual events where the alums fielded questions about where to live, activities in Los Angeles and favorite professors, much like older siblings dispensing advice.


“Somebody said ‘It would be nice to have some kind of gathering to send off new students, so we could share our experience — how to survive in law school, but also to welcome newly accepted students.’ And so we did it,” says Kenji Hirooka (LLM 2004).


Hirooka, now a partner at one of the largest law firms in Japan, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, learned the basics of setting up the sessions after volunteering to help send off a group of new LLM students in 2010. Hirooka connected with Japanese alumni including Kazuki Inoue (LLM 2010), a Japanese government official with the Legislative Bureau of the House of Representatives; Takashi Yoneyama (LLM 2009), a partner in one of the five largest firms in the country, TMI Associates; Yuichi Kono (LLM 2009), an attorney with Marubeni Corporation; and Hiro Takahashi (LLM 2015), a partner at Vasco Da Gama offices, a legal accounting firm. Together, the alums comprise a core team that organizes at least two events each year: a year-end reunion for Gould alumni following an annual information session open to all prospective Gould candidates in Japan, and a send-off party for all accepted Gould LLM students.


The USC LLM program focuses on the U.S. legal system, with a flexible and far-reaching curriculum that prepares international students for leadership roles in the increasingly globalized marketplace. The full-time, one-year LLM provides students with foundational skills and knowledge that are immediately applicable to real-world legal practice. The LLM is open to anyone with a first law degree (LLB or equivalent) outside of the United States.


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