Should I Transfer After 1L Year?
Should I Transfer After 1L Year?: Some 1Ls go into law school knowing they are going to transfer. This post is not for them. This post is for the 1L law students who went to their law schools intending to graduate from there but something changes. This is for the 1Ls who have fallen out of love with their law school and are wondering if they should leave, or stick with it.
Should I Transfer After 1L Year?
Whatever your reasons for thinking of leaving your law school, there are several things to consider before you make the decision to transfer after 1L year. For many law students, it is the biggest decision they will make during their law school career. Transferring can completely change your law school experience and in some cases, your entire future career as a lawyer.
An important caveat to all this is that you plan on transferring after your 1L year to a higher ranked school you need a great GPA and high ranking in your 1L class. So if you have these, transferring is an option for you.
But before you make the choice you should take time to weigh the pros and cons. Take a look below at the eight most important things you should consider before you chose to transfer after your 1L year of law school.
1. A greater financial burden
Obviously, the cost is always at the forefront of your mind with law school. It is an expensive endeavor. But it is the biggest, most important thing to consider when you consider a transfer after 1L year.
If you transfer, you will be leaving behind whatever scholarships or need-based financial aid you have at your current law school. It is very unlikely you will get any scholarships or need-based financial aid at your new law school. Many law schools do not give transfer students scholarship or need-based financial aid.
Transfers can be a huge source of money to law schools. Law schools know that students are desperate enough to get out of their current law schools that they will pay full price to go to a better law school.
You must decide whether taking on such a financial burden will be better for you than staying at your current law school. For many transfer students, the price is worth it. They consider all aspects, especially future job prospects with their current school, and make the choice that the full price is worth it in the long run.
2. Better bar passage and employment rates
It is contentious whether law school rankings are legitimate. Contentious or not, a law school’s bar passage and employment rates are important. The bar exam is hard and sometimes finding a job can be even harder. The whole reason you go to law school is to properly prepare yourself for those feats. You want the best possible starting point for your legal career.
If your school has dismal bar passage and employment rates, then a transfer after 1l year may be the right choice for you. Transferring in this situation is better when you are going from a low ranking school and jump dozens of rankings to a top law school. It will not be worth the increase in price to transfer to another school that’s is similarly ranked to your current school with similar bar passage and employment rates.
If you decide to transfer after 1L year, you need to transfer to a good enough law school that blows your old one out of the water. You will most likely be taking on a huge increase in student loans, so you need the transfer to be worth it. Better bar passage rates and better employment rates make taking on the increase in debt worth it in the long run.
Note that if you do well your 1L year, you are in a good position to pass the bar exam, so this shouldn’t be a primary reason that you transfer!
3. A better OCI
If you are planning to transfer to a top law school after your 1L year you are transferring for better opportunities. But half of those opportunities are lost to you if you are unable to take part in your new law school’s On-Campus Interview (“OCI”) Program. If you really want to get into Big Law you have to ensure that you will be able to take part in OCI after you transfer to your new school.
If you are able to take part, be sure to watch your email and pay attention to deadlines. Most transfer students get into their new law school in July, or even as late as August. Your non-transfer peers have been preparing for OCI since the spring and you may have only a matter of days to get your bids in. So set aside time to put into OCI and be ready to go as soon as you are admitted.
4. Location, location, location
There are only a handful of truly national law schools. Generally, you should go to law school where you want to eventually practice. During law school, you can intern at places a future employer will recognize and you may have an opportunity to take state-specific bar courses.
If you are realizing you do not want to practice law where your current law school is located then transferring to the location you prefer will be a huge benefit to your future career in that location.
5. Double journal competitions
When you are looking at schools to transfer to you should check to see whether they allow transfer students to try for journal. Some schools do not. Others let transfers join journal but they do not honor the journal competition at your old law school which means you have to do another journal competition.
Also, while you may have won a spot on your old school’s law review you may not be on the same level at your new law school. So you will be trading in a law review for a specialty journal. Make sure to check what journals the law school you are considering transferring to has to offer.
6. Bye bye great GPA
If you are transferring after 1L year you probably have a stellar GPA and you are at the top of your class. Unfortunately, your new law school will not let you keep your old GPA. You will be starting from scratch your 2L year. So you will have to work all over again to get that high GPA.
You may go from being the top of your class to just another average law student in your new law school class. This is something to consider. Is it better to be an average student at a top law school or the top of your class at a lesser law school? To find this out you should not only look at the employment rates of each law school but research where the top achievers of your current law school went after graduation.
7. Different credit requirements
For some law schools, there are specific credit requirements for transfer students. For example, transfer students may not be able to take classes on a pass/fail basis.
Your 1L credits from your old law school will most likely show up as pass/fail or credit/no credit credits on your transcript. Therefore you will be limited in how many more pass/fail or credit/no credit classes you are able to take in your 2L and 3L year. So you may not be able to take it as easy as your non-transfer peers your 3L year.
8. Burning bridges
Transferring can be frowned upon in some law schools. Everyone is aware of the law school rankings, especially the lower ranked law schools. They emphasize their class size, professors, buildings, and everything else they can to make up for their ranking. People that decide to transfer may be looked down upon.
If you make the decision to transfer you may have the deans of your law school calling you and trying to convince you to stay. They may even increase your scholarship and emphasize the costs of your new law school. You need to be sure in your decision to transfer.
Another unfortunate side effect is you may lose some friends. Law school is like high school and “moving away” can really affect some friendships. But if they decide to not be your friend just because you transfer they aren’t worth it. You will make new friends at your new law school.
Whatever you decide, it is a big decision. It is life changing. But speaking from experience, it can be the best decision you ever make.