To Transfer Law Schools or Not To Transfer? That Is the Question.
- Sep 28, 2023
- Law School, Law School Admissions
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
Imagine this scenario. You decide you want to go to law school. You take the LSAT, write a powerful personal statement, fill out the law school applications, cross your T’s, and dot your I’s.
And then you get accepted! Congratulations! But… what if it’s not your dream law school? Well, you have some options:
- You can wait a year and reapply next cycle. This is a great choice if you are not in a rush to attend law school and you have good reason to believe you can make your application more competitive next time around. This can include a higher LSAT score, applying earlier in the cycle, or having a stronger personal statement.
- You can go to a law school you’ve been accepted to and make peace with not attending your dream school (and maybe this other school might actually be a better fit for you).
- You can go to a law school you’ve been accepted to and then try to transfer to your dream school after a year.
Decisions, decisions…Option #3 sounds tempting, but before you go all in on this strategy, let’s talk about the pros and cons of transferring law schools.
How Does Transferring Law Schools Work?
Generally, most students who transfer law schools do so after their first year. Students can use their 1L grades and writing skills to make the case that they should be admitted into a more competitive law school. After all, most students take similar foundational classes such as contracts, torts, criminal law, civil procedure, constitutional law, etc. during their 1L year.
Should You Transfer Law Schools?
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Pros of Transferring:
The first pro is quite obvious: It gives you a second bite at the apple. It is not as though your degree will say “1 year from Law School X, then 2 years from Law School Y.”
Getting into a more competitive (or top-ranked) law school can translate to more job opportunities. Additionally, your degree may carry substantial weight with future clients and employers.
Another pro is that you may be transferring to a more desirable location. Law schools tend to have more pull for job prospects in their city/state. Transferring to a school that is located in the city where you hope to start your career can significantly boost your odds of landing a job there.
Cons of Transferring:
However, there are a number of risks associated with transferring that should not be overlooked.
First, there is no guarantee that you will be able to transfer. In fact, most students won’t get high enough 1L grades to be competitive in the transfer market. Law schools grade on a curve. This means that not everyone will earn a high GPA. Since 1L GPA is the biggest factor in transfer success, often only students in the top 15-20 percentile of their class have a reasonable shot at being able to transfer.
Additionally, if finances are an important factor, transfer students should be prepared to take on more debt. Transfers are much less likely to get a merit-based scholarship and will likely have to forgo any scholarships that they received at their first school.
Finally, transfer students may lose some connections they developed with professors as 1Ls. Although this is not necessarily the end of the world, developing relationships with professors can be very beneficial when trying to establish meaningful connections in the legal market, especially when you’re looking for internships. While students can surely develop relationships with professors later in law school, those relationships begin to be fostered in the first year.
So, Is It Ever a Good Idea To Transfer?
Again, it depends. However, keep everything we just discussed in mind:
- You should be okay with staying at your first school. Since transferring is difficult and many students are unable to transfer, you need to be ok with spending all 3 years at your initial law school.
- If you do end up transferring law schools, you’ll need to be ok with paying more. Although it is possible that your transfer school will also offer scholarships, the odds are that the scholarship will be harder to attain and will be for less money.
- If you successfully transfer, plan to dedicate more time to networking and making up for lost time.
Ultimately, transferring law schools can be a great option for some, but it also carries a risk. Make sure to do your own research on job prospects, ease of transfer, and law school grading curves before jumping to any one conclusion.
If you want to improve your chances of getting accepted into your dream law school the first time, you’ll need a strong application, which includes a competitive LSAT score! Blueprint LSAT students increase their LSAT scores by 15 points on average through live classes, self-paced courses, or private tutoring. Get started for free with a practice test, a customizable study planner, and more by creating a Blueprint LSAT account.
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