Newest Gould class excels in academics, diversity

Exterior of the Gould School of Law.
The Gould School of Law’s first year Class of 2024 is made up of 212 students between the ages of 20 to 44 years old, hailing from 31 states and having majored in 40 different subjects as undergraduates. (Beth Mosch | Daily Trojan file photo)

When Emma Brunel was looking at law schools, she knew that she wanted to attend a school with a supportive student community. 

“The law school mindset can be a bit toxic sometimes in many schools and really competitive in how it’s set up,” said Brunel, a first year student studying law. “[Gould] just has a good way … and I’m here now and can verify that. People are really helpful with each other and the competitiveness is not as strong as it would have been in other schools.” 

Brunel is one member of Gould’s Class of 2024, one of the “most diverse classes to date,” according to a Monday news release. The first-year class, composed of 212 students ranging from 20 to 44 years old from 31 states, has the lowest acceptance rate in the school’s history at 13%. 

“I think it’s a continuation of the tradition of excellence that we’ve had here,” said David Kirschner, associate dean of admissions for Gould’s JD program. “I think it’s representative of the strength of the Gould education and the desire that prospective students have to attend law school in such a dynamic university in such a dynamic city.” 

Being a member of such an accomplished class was “reassuring” for Brunel. 

“It’s easy in law school to think that maybe you’re not at the right place, maybe you’re not as good as everyone else, kind of like an imposter syndrome,” Brunel said. “Reminding yourself that … it was a really competitive cycle and that you were chosen and picked and just a few [were] picked, makes you feel good and gives you some confidence for the year.” 

For Kirschner, however, it is the students’ “diversity of experiences” that makes the class so special. 

“We have an incredibly talented class academically, and a class with diversity across so many different facets of what it means to be diverse, from students of color to women to a wide variety of work experiences and life experiences,” Kirschner said. 

Brunel said that having classmates with a myriad of different backgrounds was “really important” and that she didn’t understand that as much before arriving at Gould. 

“I think that it’s so rich to have all these different personalities and different backgrounds in the same class,” Brunel said. “When you exchange with those people, they have so much to teach you.”

In addition to 50% of the first-year class identifying as a member of a minority group and 14% as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the class also has the highest proportion of women students at 63%. 

“Being a woman in law school is definitely very interesting. It’s inspiring,” said Soleil Montemurro, a first year student studying law. “Law firms are predominantly male. They’re still currently mostly male, which means that the jobs that we’re going to be applying into, we’re more likely to be interviewed by men, which is definitely a different environment than what we’re in now, but we are kind of changing the face of that because there are so many of us.” 

Students in the first-year class also come from a range of backgrounds and with an array of experiences, such as having climbed Mount Everest, worked in finance or written best-selling books. 

“It feels good but intimidating [to be a part of this class],” said Noah Reid, a first year student studying law. “There’s a lot of accomplishments and I was pretty impressed, and it was fun to be among those and have those people become my friends and peers.” 

Despite the scope of accomplishments members of the class possess, Reid said that everyone is “friendly and helpful.” 

“There’s always stereotypes about law school being cutthroat,” Reid said. “Showing up here and the people that I’ve met, it’s for sure a true statement but like it’s a very collegial, helpful, friendly atmosphere to learn everything.” 

For Montemurro, the range of racial backgrounds, ages and experiences of her classmates makes the environment feel less like she’s just a student in school and instead a member of a diverse team. 

“It feels more like an actual community of contributing viewpoints and perspectives,” Montemurro said. “Obviously when you work in an office or wherever, you’re not the same age as everyone, so it’s kind of nice to have the diversity of that.”