Common Questions About How To Transfer Law Schools
Do you want to transfer law schools after your 1L year but aren’t sure what you should be doing now? Here are our answers to your most frequently asked 1L questions about transferring.
Common Questions About How To Transfer Law Schools
1. What should I do in my 1L year to prepare to transfer law schools?
Obtain a high GPA. To start, you should focus your entire 1L year on getting the highest GPA you can. Unlike the review process for incoming 1Ls (which is trying to predict aptitude for success in law school), you already have a track record. Your 1L grades get the majority of the transfer review process. That should alleviate some pressure since I’m sure you were planning to focus heavily on your grades anyway.
2. Should I tell professors and others that I want to transfer law schools?
Yes, but don’t overdo it. The one thing that you should start working on right now, during the fall semester of your 1L year, is building relationships with professors so that you can request a letter of recommendation at the end of your 1L year. This includes letting them know of about your short and long term goals, including transferring to a higher ranked school or a new specific market. They may even have connections to your desired transfer school or market and may be able to offer concrete advice or connections for getting there.
Additionally, some schools require a law school professor recommendation with your transfer application. Others do not, but it never looks bad. (Plus it’s great to form relationships/mentorships with your professors. They often prove beneficial throughout your career.)
That being said, remember that you should also be forming relationships with your classmates who will one day be your colleagues in the legal profession. If you’re constantly talking about on how you want to transfer law schools, you’re putting down their education at your current school. Don’t overdo it because it may become off-putting for those around you.
3. When do I start applying?
At the end of your winter semester, usually in May or early June. Since transfer schools will want to see how you perform in your 1L year, most applications for transfer students don’t even open until mid- to late-spring, so that your full year of grades can be included in the review process. Then, there is a very short turn around time to compile and submit your application. From start to finish the transfer process typically takes place over a few months. You should start working on your application in May, submit it in June and have a decision in July. Keep in mind, you may need to solicit a letter of recommendation in March or April so that the professor has plenty of time to write it. Exam times are busy for them too!
Also keep in mind that the earlier you submit your application the better so that you can take full advantage of on-campus interviews and try-outs for co-curriculars like moot court and journals at a new school. (Some schools save a few spots for transfer students but others do not.) Be ready to work hard and quickly to prepare your transfer application once exams conclude in May.
4. How do I apply to transfer law schools and is that different than the first time I did it?
Go to LSAC.org and fill out a transfer application. The transfer application will look very similar to the application you filled out as an incoming 1L and can be found on the school’s website or LSAC.org. (Again, they usually won’t become available until the spring, so don’t bother trying to start it really early.) While similar to your initial application, transfer applications are still separate and distinct. Make sure that you fill out the “TRANSFER” application and not the “first-time” application. It never looks good if you fill out the wrong application but it’s a very common mistake!
The application will ask for mostly biographical information, a personal statement which should be tailored to your transfer application (they will see that your original personal statement and know if it’s the same), 1L and undergrad transcripts, a letter of good standing from your current school, and possibly a letter of recommendation from a law school professor and/or additional essays.
The good news you is that there’s not a lot to do right now in your 1L year. However, be prepared to put in a lot of work into your application as soon as exams are done for the year!
Still unsure of whether you should transfer after your 1L year? Here are some important factors to consider that you may not have thought about yet!
Rachel Margiewicz, Director of Pre-Law Services for JD Advising, wrote this post. Rachel is a licensed attorney with years of admissions experience across three law school programs in different markets of the country. She knows what schools are looking for and how to make your application stand out. Contact us with questions and for more information on our application assistance services! We look forward to hearing from you!