Luminaries from the legal profession, including Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey ’82, gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 6 as the USC Gould School of Law kicked off its $150 million fundraising initiative.
The gala event drew more than 200 friends, alumni, administrators, faculty and student leaders to the historic Vibiana in Los Angeles.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias opened the evening’s festivities by pointing to the law school’s stellar reputation and commitment to legal innovation.
“With some of the best minds in the legal profession and some of the top experts in nearly every legal specialty, the USC Gould School of Law has an impressive reputation that makes it consistently among the finest in the nation,” Nikias said. “If you look at America’s most prominent law firms, you will find that many of the important positions of leadership are occupied by Trojans. And that makes all of us at USC very proud.”
Dean Robert K. Rasmussen said that USC Gould is entering a time of tremendous opportunity. The overarching goal of the initiative is to accelerate the school’s role as the leader in legal education. The funds raised will be used to provide scholarship support for students, attract additional stellar faculty, and create a physical space that fosters collaborative and inter-professional learning.
“USC Gould stands ready to invest in the next generation of legal professionals,” Rasmussen said. “No school can match our history of innovation, though we are not content to rest on our past successes.
“At a time when the legal profession is undergoing fundamental changes, our school will be the leader in ensuring that our students excel in the new environment,” he added. “Our faculty is the envy of other leading law schools because it produces ideas that shape our understanding of our legal system.”
Lacey, the celebration’s keynote speaker and a USC Gould graduate, is Los Angeles County’s first female and first African-American district attorney. She credits her success to the legal education she received at USC.
“My experience at Gould was life-altering and has been the foundation for my career and for the life I have now,” Lacey said. “Law school for me was a nurturing environment where I felt my professors were invested in my success. And when I graduated, I not only felt prepared to embark upon a career in law, but immediately realized the value of being a Trojan. The alumni network was all around me and created a seamless transition from law school to the professional community.”
Ken Doran ’81, chair of the Board of Councilors at USC Gould, said he is a supporter of the campaign because he wants to give back to the law school that gave him so much.
“We received a first-class legal education that has allowed us access to rewarding careers and rich lives,” he said. “If we believe in the need to support USC’s continued ascendance as one of America’s greatest universities and if we believe in the vision of our dean to make USC Gould the top law school in Los Angeles and at the forefront of 21st-century education, then now is the time to invest.”
The law school’s initiative is part of The Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort to secure $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world.