Deciding to transfer law schools can be a challenging decision, depending on your unique circumstances and goals for your legal education. Before submitting your transfer application, it’s crucial to consider factors like your grades, employment prospects, and on-campus relationships.
Understanding Law School Transfers
A law school transfer typically occurs after completing your first year (1L) at one law school. Once you’ve earned the foundational credits that are comparable among most law schools, you can transfer to a different institution to complete your final two years of study.
While transferring after the second year is less common, it’s still possible. However, it may be more challenging to transfer credits from a year other than your first.
Reasons to Consider Transferring
There are several valid reasons why you may want to transfer law schools. Some of the most common include:
- Attending a Higher Ranked Program: You may desire to enroll in a law school with a higher ranking.
- Pursuing a Dream School: If you weren’t accepted into your dream school initially, transferring could provide an opportunity to attend it.
- Location Preference: Transferring to a school closer to the area where you want to practice law could be advantageous.
However, it’s important to reconsider transferring if your motives involve less substantial factors like following a friend, disliking a specific professor, or not enjoying campus events.
Factors to Consider Before Transferring
When contemplating a law school transfer, weigh the following factors:
Your current grades play a significant role in a law school transfer, particularly if you aim to transfer to a higher-ranked program. To make your transfer application competitive, you’ll likely need to be in the top 10 percent of your class.
Additionally, consider how your grades may be affected if you’re accepted into a more competitive program. Adjusting to a new school’s academic rigor could impact your performance and GPA.
On-campus relationships are an essential part of the law school experience. Your connections with classmates, professors, advisors, and upperclassmen often form during your first year. Transferring means starting anew and not sharing the same experiences as your classmates, potentially leaving you feeling like an outsider.
While you’ll build new relationships at your transfer school, adapting to a group that already has established connections may take time.
Evaluate your finances when deciding to transfer. If you currently receive a merit scholarship, be aware that your new school is unlikely to offer a similar scholarship. Although there may be transfer student scholarships available, they might be lower than what you currently receive.
If minimizing debt is a priority, consult the admissions office of your intended transfer school for more information on scholarships and financial aid.
The location of your law school is crucial as it will impact your networking opportunities. The connections you establish during your studies can lead to internships, job opportunities, and clerkships. Choose a school in an area where you can envision practicing law for several years.
Many students transfer to a law school closer to their desired practice location or because they prefer the culture of a different city. Remember to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each school.
While attending law school is a dream for many students, it’s essential to consider employment rates at prospective schools. After all, your law degree should help you secure future employment.
Before submitting transfer applications, research the employment prospects of your intended transfer school and compare them to your current school. It’s always preferable to attend a school with better job outlooks, but if that’s not possible, be aware of what to expect after graduation from your transfer school.
Admission Odds for Transfers
The likelihood of being accepted as a transfer student varies depending on the law school and its specific criteria for transfer applicants. While there is no definitive answer, certain actions can improve your chances.
Maintain high grades, especially during your first semester. Establish positive relationships with professors to secure compelling letters of recommendation. Additionally, participate in extracurricular activities to enhance your application.
If you’d like more tips on succeeding in your transfer applications, you can find them here.
How to Apply for Law School Transfers
If you’ve carefully considered the factors above and decided that transferring law schools is the right path for you, you’re probably wondering what to do next.
When to Apply
In most cases, you should begin completing transfer applications during the second semester of your 1L year. Early decision transfer options are available at certain law schools. Applications typically remain open until early summer, with acceptance notifications sent before your second year of law school begins.
Required Application Materials
Most transfer applications will require the following materials, although specific requirements may vary among law schools. Visit your intended transfer school’s admissions website for the latest information on the application process.
Your transcript is a critical component of your transfer application. Typically, it will only include your first semester of 1L grades unless you’re applying after completing your full 1L year. Scoring well during your first law school classes is therefore crucial.
You may also need to provide an undergraduate transcript or transcripts from any other graduate schools you’ve attended.
Essays, including a personal statement, are essential for every law school application, including transfers. Your personal statement should explain why you want to transfer, what interests you about the school, and how you’ll contribute to the community as an accepted student. Some schools may require additional essays.
For guidance on crafting a competitive transfer personal statement, check out our article on Garrity Traina.
Letters of Recommendation
While not always required, it’s a good idea to obtain letters of recommendation from professors. If a letter is necessary, choose a professor who taught you during your 1L year and can speak to your skills and potential for success in law school. Building strong relationships with professors during your first year is crucial.
When creating your resume for the transfer application, include your current law school and any extracurricular activities you participated in during your first year. Don’t forget to add your 1L GPA.
For more information on crafting a law school resume, refer to our article on Garrity Traina.
Similar to your original law school application, include any addendums that clarify questions about your resume, criminal background, or transcript. Keep these additional documents concise, objective, and only include them when absolutely necessary.
Making the Best Choice for Your Situation
Deciding whether to transfer law schools can be challenging, especially when personal factors and considerations come into play. However, by thoroughly evaluating the pros and cons and weighing each factor, you’ll ultimately make the right choice for your situation and find your way to your dream law school.