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ASU Law students gain vital experience through Los Angeles location


Exteriror of the ASU California Center building in Los Angeles.

Students at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University can take advantage of experiential opportunities in Los Angeles. ASU photo

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April 08, 2024

Students at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University may be concentrated in the school’s downtown Phoenix headquarters, but they have more choices than ever when it comes to where they complete their externships. 

ASU Law students can spend time at the ASU California Center in Los Angeles while completing an externship opportunity or spend up to three semesters at the school’s Washington, D.C., location to customize their law school experience.

The ASU California Center is also home to The Difference Engine, a center dedicated to helping communities overcome social, political and economic inequality. The center often collaborates with Phoenix-based programs, like the Academy for Justice, and allows law students to get involved in paid research opportunities. This fall, The Difference Engine will launch a civil rights-focused fellowship for law students in LA. 

Portrait of Ehsan Zaffar.
Ehsan Zaffar

“Los Angeles is a city full of legal experiences for students, and it’s diverse physically, economically and ethnically,” said Ehsan Zaffar, executive director of The Difference Engine and a professor of practice at ASU Law. “Southern California is a dynamic and growing part of the country, and the legal culture of the state and the region is reflected in this diversity. It presents a nearly unlimited variety of legal areas for students to explore.” 

California has the second-largest population of lawyers in the country (after New York), and LA is a bastion for major legal areas, like intellectual property and entertainment law. The ASU California Center in the heart of the city’s downtown is just steps from major law firms and government offices. LA has become a destination for students hoping to make Southern California their home base after graduation. 

Third-year law student Gemma Park came to the U.S. from South Korea several years ago when her husband was accepted into a PhD program in LA. While initially unsure of what to do with her career in a new country, she found her way to law school. While LA is home to several law schools, Park said an admitted students program ASU Law held in the city changed her mind, as did the fact that she would be able to work in LA as a student and take classes online so she could stay local. 

Portrait of Gemma Park.
Gemma Park

“As an international student with extra barriers, I wanted to go to a school where the school cares about its students,” she said, adding that ASU Law’s Career Services Office and faculty members have gone above and beyond to support her over the past three years. “I feel fortunate to have such a supportive community, even while physically away from campus.”

During her second year as a law student, Park worked for Judge Consuelo Marshall at the Central District Court of California as a full-time extern. She completed two summer externships at Ogletree Deakins in its LA office and will return as an associate after taking the bar exam.

“After working there my first summer, I knew that I wanted to come back to Ogletree Deakins because I genuinely enjoyed working with the team and loved the work I did,” she said. “I had the opportunity to work on client counseling memos, draft motions, conduct legal research and more. I couldn't have asked for a more comprehensive and meaningful experience.”

William Scoville, another third-year law student, came to ASU Law from the D.C. area for its concurrent JD and Master of Sports Law and Business program with the hopes of working in sports law. 

“I thought sports law would be a great homogenization of my interests,” he said. “It’s a niche area, but it encompasses a mixture of legal areas like contract law, labor and antitrust. I stumbled across IP law and knew that was what I wanted to focus on. The two industries that require it are entertainment and technology, both of which are based in California. It’s the best place for me to start my career. I never felt like I was at a disadvantage not going to law school in California.”

Portrait of William Scoville.
William Scoville

He spent the summer of his second year working at Knobbe Martens in its LA office. He’ll return to the firm in its Irvine office after graduation to work in its IP law practice. He was also able to take an ASU Sync class in entertainment law this semester that aligns perfectly with his California experience, taught by ASU Law alum Leila “Lily” Fizzy, vice president of business affairs at Sony Pictures Television Studios.

“It’s similar to sports law and overlaps with my IP interests,” said Scoville. “It’s unique in that it’s not all casebooks, but more practical learning experiences and what the professor has come across in her experience. It augments traditional legal classes with more experiential learning.”

LA’s proximity to the entertainment industry also drew alum Hailey Jundt, who graduated from ASU Law in 2023. After transferring to ASU as a second-year law student, Jundt knew she wanted to pursue a career in sports or entertainment law. She spent a summer interning at Sony Pictures Entertainment, working in legal affairs to support Sony Pictures Animation, including on 2023’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse.” She negotiated deals for designers, artists and voice actors, drafted talent agreements and was able to sit in on meetings with her boss and navigate real legal issues as they arose. 

She now works in business affairs for Sony Pictures Television, where Fizzy — who taught her entertainment law class — is her co-worker. 

Portrait of Hailey Jundt.
Hailey Jundt

“I was really lucky to get a position and have that experience,” said the Phoenix native. “It’s the reason I’m still at Sony. LA was where I saw opportunities for my career, and what I do is not easily transferable. That internship opened up a world of possibilities for me.”

Unlike most legal externships, entertainment law opportunities don’t always result in a job offer at the end, and many are unpaid, especially when the cost of temporarily moving to a new city is factored in. Jundt benefited from ASU Law’s Pay It Forward program, which gave her the funds she needed to live and work in California. 

She said she’s grateful for the opportunity she had as a student to try out the life she’s living now, and that ASU Law’s network and support have been paramount. 

“There were so many opportunities to network, create community and create job opportunities,” Jundt said. “ASU Law is Phoenix based, so if you have aspirations of being somewhere else, like LA or D.C., having opportunities provided by schools in those locations is imperative to your career growth. It was hugely important and beneficial to me in getting me where I am today.”

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