Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Meet Luna Hernandez (LLM 2023), a paralegal from South Africa who decided to pursue an Online LLM degree at USC Gould to support her career goal of becoming a transactional corporate attorney while working full-time.

What sparked your interest in learning about the law?
Unlike the many stories I have read about people who always knew they wanted to be attorneys, my interest in law stemmed from a lack of opportunity after I finished high school. The small town I lived in did not have a university and financially I was not in a position to relocate.

At the time, I was working for the Independent Electoral Commission and I was nearing the end of a contract to plan and execute the local government elections when it struck me that I would need a degree if I wanted to give myself the best shot at dictating the type of life that I wanted. I knew that I would still need to work full-time, so I picked up a distance-learning university catalogue and asked myself the following question, “What is the most challenging degree you could pursue and still pay the bills?” I decided on an LLB. When it came time to choose a masters program, an online LLM was the natural choice.

What made you pursue your degree online, and why at USC Gould?

Headshot of Online LLM student, Luna Hernandez
Luna Hernandez (LLM 2023)

USC offered an ABA-approved online Master of Laws program that provided the necessary subjects needed for California bar eligibility*. The program allowed me the flexibility to keep working full-time as a transactional paralegal, and still pursue my ultimate goal of passing the California bar exam and becoming a practicing attorney in the U.S.

The program also offered the ability to get a graduate certificate in one of many fields while pursuing my degree. I chose to pursue the Business Law Certificate as I work with a business practice and wanted the educational background to enhance my credibility in this field.

How was the transition into your program, and how did USC assist you?
From the moment I scheduled a call with the support team to discuss the possibility of enrolling, through the application process, during onboarding each semester, and now through the process of graduating, USC has provided unmatched guidance and support. I have felt that the team truly wanted me to succeed along every step of the journey. Whether it was guiding me through the financial aid process or assisting with my application to write the California bar exam, I was always confident that I was being ushered in the right direction.

What is the most memorable experience or learning from your USC studies?
Hands down my Contracts Negotiation and Strategy class. Our professor was first-rate and I use the skills that I learned in his class daily. He had the ability to bring the subject of contracts to life in both a practical and creative way.

On one occasion, I asked a question about maritime employment law. The next week, he came back to class with a slideshow prepared on my question with several viewpoints to consider and a robust conversation ensued. The caliber of the educators that I have had the opportunity to learn from has been a privilege I do not take for granted.

What is something that you’ve enjoyed during your time as a student outside of your studies?
USC has an abundance of student-led organizations and access to conferences that allow you to meet leaders in various industries. I attended the Institute on Entertainment Law and Business conference, the Real Estate Law and Business Conference, as well as several Blockchain @ USC events and alumni networking events.

One special event that comes to mind was a Trojan alumni event in Orange County, California, where I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for the marching band. Traveler, the Trojan mascot, posed for photos with us and we watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean all while listening to the invigorating sounds of the Spirit of Troy.

Outside of USC life, I started trail running and participated in three half-marathon trail runs last year. You learn a lot about yourself on the trail, mostly how to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when you want to quit. It’s an ethos that I carry into my career and studies when challenges arise.

How will your degree from USC Gould give you an advantage in your future career? What do you want to do next with your degree?
Half the battle is often getting your foot in the door. From my experience, if you are scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitious, USC will hold the doors open for you. You just have to walk through them and keep putting in the work. Being a USC student is an honor, and having access to the 14,000 strong alums worldwide provides an opportunity to learn from the best in class, whilst making connections all over the world. I couldn’t think of a better advantage for one’s career than having access to so many brilliant minds.

From a practical standpoint, my degree has allowed me to become eligible to write the California bar exam – something I could have only dreamed of when I started studying law in South Africa over a decade ago. Once I get news that I have passed the bar, I plan on practicing as a transactional corporate attorney, assisting the next wave of entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life in much the same way that USC has allowed me to bring my dreams to life.

Our Master of Laws (LLM) 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. Learn more about USC’s Online LLM and On-Campus LLM in Los Angeles.

*Note: USC Gould School of Law cannot determine your eligibility to sit for the California bar exam since each applicant is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the State Bar. We recommend verifying your eligibility prior to enrolling in our Online LLM.

Quickfire Q&A with Luna Hernandez (LLM 2023)

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USC Gould School of Law

The USC Gould School of Law is a private top 20 law school with a reputation for academic excellence and a world-class faculty. USC Gould is known for its inclusive and collegial student body, its leadership in clinical education, and its supportive and…

The USC Gould School of Law is a private top 20 law school with a reputation for academic excellence and a world-class faculty. USC Gould is known for its inclusive and collegial student body, its leadership in clinical education, and its supportive and global alumni network. Located in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s top legal markets and a hub for major law and entertainment firms, the Gould School offers a dynamic laboratory for legal training.