A great option: Applying as a Transfer Student

Law School Expert Blog

Frustrated that your LSAT and GPA performance will limit your opportunities? Here’s something to keep in mind – If you finish your 1L year with good grades, you can transfer into some amazing schools. (Schools don’t have to report your LSAT and GPA to the ABA, therefore it doesn’t count in rankings).

Some examples – this year I had someone from Golden Gate get into William and Mary, and just today I heard great news that one client who I helped with his JD applications and again with his transfer applications got into Georgetown (from Catholic)!

I also want to put in another plug for the ABA LSAC Official Guide to Law Schools – the only book any law school applicant absolutely must own. This year they added information about the number of transfer applicants accepted, and the number of people who transferred out.

I will post more goodies about transfers another day – but this should at least put the idea in your head that there are more possibilities than you initially considered.

Other Posts About Transferring Law Schools:

What Are My Chances of Transferring Law Schools?
5 Tips for Transferring Law Schools

240 Responses

  1. Ann is right. Not only did she help me with my acceptance to Catholic U last year, but she also helped me with my applications as a transfer student to GW and Georgetown (I was accepted to both). She is attentive, dedicated and genuinely cares for her clients. If you do well your first year, transferring is certainly a reality! I strongly encourage you to have Ann work with you on your applications. You have all the necessary tools; Ann helps you put them in place!

  2. Hi Ann – I just finished my 1L year at a 4th tier school and applied to transfer. I am debating between USF and Santa Clara. Do you have any recommendations? Location doesn’t matter to me…I just want to get the best possible education and maximize my career opps. I see that USF went down in the 2009 rankings… help!!

  3. Hi Ann – I am considering a Tier 4 school and hoping to transfer after the first year. I see that 20 people transferred out of the school last year. Here is my question: is there any way I can learn where those people transferred to? Thank-you. Jeff

  4. Dear Ann – I never received a reply to my earlier question — but here is another: do you have a substantial amount (chapter?) of material on the subject of transfers in your book? Thanks, Jeff.

    1. Hi Jeff, I promise I responded to your question; I have no idea why it didn’t post. Thanks for pointing it out. There is no way of knowing where people transferred except on self-reporting, incomplete sources like discussion boards. I do have a chapter on transferring and the chapters on essays and resumes, addenda, etc. are equally helpful as a transfer applicant. I look forward to your thoughts on the book. (A table of contents for the book is available for download at http://www.lawschoolexpertbook.com)

  5. Hi Ann, I completed an MBA last year and I’m now wanting to apply to law school. I just took the June LSAT and didn’t do as well as I wanted, but did ok with a 155. Obviously my score is too low to get into the schools that I want (Georgetown, Michigan, NYU). I live in the Orlando area and need to stay here for the next year. There are two T4 schools here. So is it possible to transfer from a T4 to a T1 (like Georgetown) or T2 school? Or would I be better off waiting a year and applying directly to a higher ranked school? Also, will my MBA have any significance in helping me get into law school or transferring or is it something that won’t even be looked at? Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Hi Frank. The MBA is a soft factor only… It’s not easy to transfer from Tier 4 to Tier, not very likely. Plus, you’d be betting that you’d be #1 in your class and that’s a pretty tough bet. If you lose, you’re stuck where you are. I would suggest retaking the LSAT in October (if you think you’re likely to improve your score) and apply to schools this fall. Unless your grades are terrible, you shouldn’t have to go T4 with a 155 (by the way).

  6. Hi ann, i attend NIU , and their curve is a B- is that good are bad in terms of transferring? also is it harder to transfer or apply as a visiting student?

    1. J- very few people try to be visiting students. Schools really only use this in an emergency type situation where an applicant has a compelling reason to be in a certain city, and a job in that city is usually not compelling.

  7. Hi Ann,

    I am looking for a career change from international relations to law. My husband is in the military so we move around a lot. Currently we are in the Seattle area for 2-3 years – but my preference is to go to law school on the East Coast, right now Georgetown is my top pick.

    Currently I believe I am a strong applicant to any law school (B.A. – U of Michigan w/ 3.9GPA & MSc – London School of Economics w/ Honors. No LSAT score yet).

    We are unlikely to move back East until 2013/14. I am already 26yrs old, so I don’t want to be too old before starting law school/ initiating career change.

    So, my question is should I start law school here at U of Washington in Seattle and then try to transfer to Georgetown? Or wait until we move back east, thereby delaying the start of law school by 1-2 years, but applying directly to G-town and other east coast schools?


    1. Maya,
      I generally think it’s a bad idea to start something with the plan of transferring because you never know what might happen and you might find yourself stuck in Seattle (not that that’s such a bad place) longer than you anticipate. But that’s a fine law school – no shame in a degree from there.

  8. Dear Ann,
    I am a 1L at Cardozo and hope to have about a 3.1 GPA. I had LSATs at 155. I was wondering about the possibility of transferring to Fordham’s part-time program and also getting a part-time job as a paralegal. I currently have an internship in local government and could get a really excellent recommendation. Do you think transfer is possible, or is it just a pipe dream?

  9. At Cardozo I’m roughly at the 50th percentile mark, a little bit better (top 49). I graduated from college cum laude and a 3.63 GPA and strong extracurriculars.

  10. Hi Benjamin, you should call Fordham and inquire with them about whether it’s possible to go from full time to part time. I have a feeling they will also tell you that your grades have to improve next semester to be considered. Good luck.

  11. Hi Ann, I am in top 12 % from a T3 in California. I was curious if you had any advice for applying to New York schools. I am hoping to get into Fordham and may apply to Cardozo too. I received a CALI award for highest grade in legal writing and I have family that lives in NYC.

    1. Hi Joshua,
      The key to transferring is to show in the PS that you have really good professional and personal reasons for transferring. The CALI award is AWESOME, and your faculty LOR will help a lot as well (especially in a subject as important as legal writing.). If you’re looking for more concrete, detailed feedback and advice you may want to check out the Law School Expert website.

  12. Hello,
    Does it help or hurt if I was previously accepted at a t-2 ( ranked about number 55) school but for various reasons went to a T-3/4 school (decided in part, not to leave town); I now want to transfer to the school I was orginally accepted which is in my home town.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Don,
      It’s all about how you sell it. You don’t want to insult the school you turned down last year – you want to be humble and explain why you feel it’s the right school for you.

  13. Hi Ann,

    I’ve been accepted to two T-4 law schools– Golden Gate and CUNY. I’m debating between entering law school this Fall, or retaking the LSAT in October and reapplying to higher ranked schools for Fall 2012. I would hope to transfer to McGeorge, University of San Fran or Hastings (reach). I was rejected by all three for this Fall.

    BUT, I have an unattractive AND unrepresentative LSAT history.
    September 2009: 152 (studied only one month)
    December 2009: absent
    June 2010: canceled score
    December 2010: 155 (anxiety got the best of me)

    I have confirmed with LSAC that I am eligible to retake in October. I’m certain I know I can score better, as I was consistently PTing at 165 before my last LSAT attempt.

    I finished my undergrad in 2007 GPA is 3.09. My post-grad work is as a writer/producer for ethnic television news.

    Will my unattractive LSAT history overshadow any gains I make in retaking?
    Given my situation, what are your thoughts on transferring from a T-4 vs. retaking and reapplying?

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    1. Diana, if you can really hit a 160+ on the LSAT then wait and retake it. At least it would get you scholarships to schools like those you’ve been accepted to in addition to making you more competitive at the schools you would now hope to transfer to.

  14. Hi Ann, most of the precedent posts pretty answer many questions and concerns I have. I got accepted into a T4 school, and I was thinking to transfer to a ucla, usc, or davis after first year. I didn’t score high on my lsat 150, and I know with practice and study I can increase my score 160+. my question is do you recommend retaking the lsat again while your are still in you first yea? And if so, would 160+ lsat score and a top 10% rank at a T4 school give me a good chance to transfer to ucla, usc, or davis?

    1. Denise, Retake the LSAT. It’s hard to be in the top 10% but I’ve worked with people who transferred to those schools from 4th tier schools.

  15. Hi ann,
    i am currently at St Johns law, was 77 when i entered, now at 95. i finished top 5% and also recieved a CALI award for highest mark in Legal Writing. what are my chances for admission to NYU or Columbia. any advice. thanks so much

  16. Hi Ann,

    I just finished 1L at Catholic and I have a 3.0, approximately top 50%. Do I have a shot as a transfer to American or GW law even thought I’m not top 15%? I know the deadline is next week, but was just wondering if it’s worth a shot. Thanks!

    1. Kelly, you are not going to be able to transfer, nor should you want to. You need to work on bringing your grades up where you are – not being even lower in your class at a more competitive school.

  17. Hi Ann,
    Finished my 1L at Loyola New Orleans (T3), finished in the top 6% 3.58, LR, 2 highest grades, federal judicial internship for well known judge. Wondering if you could give me your thoughts on chances of transferring to DC –> GW, George Mason, and American? Thanks so much

  18. Hello Ann,
    I just finished my 1L at a T4 with a 2.63 GPA and awaiting class rank in a few days, LSAT was 155. Hoping to transfer to Stetson, because my family is relocating permanently to Florida. Do you think I have a fair chance with Stetson or should I just apply at FAMU or Barry?

  19. I just finished my first year at a T4 school with a 2.94. My GPA was highly effected by a C- I received on an exam. I rank in the middle 50% of my class. I’m thinking of applying to transfer to several T3 schools. Do you have any idea what my chances are?


  20. Hi Ann,

    I just finished my 1L year at a fourth tier school in Florida. My GPA is a 3.66 (the curve is insane) and I am ranked 20th out of 730. My LSAT was a 160 and my undergraduate GPA was a 3.83. In multiple classes of 75+ students only 2 or 3 A’s were given out which I usually received. I am originally from Los Angeles and would like to return there. I also would like to practice entertainment/media law. What do you think my chances are for UCLA, Loyola, Chapman? And would I be reaching for bigger schools like, Boalt, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, NYU?

    Thank you,

    Andrew F.

    1. Andrew, top 10 schools are taking the top people from the top 30-40 schools and they aren’t going to reach to fourth tier schools in most cases. Some of it depends where you are in school. I’ve helped clients transfer from Southwestern to USC, for example. But Loyola and Chapman are reasonable choices.

  21. Ann,

    I just finished my 1L year at a t3/t4 and i’m approximately in the top 14% of the class. Additionally, CALI in legal writing, national moot court team, honors societies, dean’s list, and probably law review. People with similar rank last year transferred to Emory. What are your thoughts on getting into GW/George Mason?

    1. That’s very smart that you asked around about where people transferred to who were ranked similarly. Most people don’t think to ask that. I’d say, go for it and give it a shot!~

  22. Ann,

    I will be starting at the University of San Francisco (USF) in the fall; however, USF was not my first choice. I did not do well on the LSAT (146) and I do not want to take it again. Therefore, I am thinking about transferring to a high ranked school in California (hopefully Boalt, UC Hastings, UCLA, or Loyola). How well exactly will I have to do this upcoming year to transfer into one of these schools? Furthermore, is the possibly of a transfer into one of these schools even feasible coming out of USF?

  23. Hi Ann,

    I finished my 1L year with a 3.64 GPA and ranked 3/170 putting me in the Top 2%. I received a CALI award, Law Review, Moot Court, 1L Moot Court Finalist. I have already applied to the schools where I would like to transfer. What do you think my chances are at USC, UCLA, UC Hastings, and Berkeley. Thanks.

  24. Hi Ann,
    I finished top 30% at Whittier and applied Part time to Loyola and Southwestern, and full time to Hastings and Santa Clara. What do you think my chances are? Thanks.

  25. Hi Ann,

    I was hoping you could give me some advice on transferring. I am currently entering my 1L year at the Michigan State University College of Law, but do not believe that it is the right fit for me in the long run. I was hoping to get into a school that offers a bigger market for corporate law, or has national recognition. With a 153 LSAT and 3.2 GPA, it is miraculous that I got into several top 100 schools, which I credit to the many soft factors/intangibles I had to offer. I would like to speak to you about some specific goals I can lay out for myself this ensuing year in order to achieve my aspirations. Thanks

  26. Hi Ann,

    I just got my fall grades for 1L at UIUC and I received a 3.66 which is top 10/15% of the class. Would it make sense for me to try and transfer given that I have a sizable scholarship where I am currently?

    What is the highest ranked school that would be realistic for transferring to?


    1. Joe, The scholarship at a good school where you are a a big fish in a big pond – that’s tough to walk away from. I can’t comment on schools selection – you’d have to cast the net and see what you catch (sorry for the metaphors…. it’s early in the morning here and I’m still drinking my coffee).

  27. This is an amazing site, thank you so much for making this forum open to the public. I have a 2 questions: 1) when is the best time to start applying for a transfer (I just finished my first semester as a 1L at GA state (T2)); and 2) I was previously wait-listed at the school I want to transfer to (UGA a T1- but I believe not THAT great of a difference in ranking- not trying to jump up from a 99th ranked school to a top 15 school) but didn’t get in- will that help to remind them that I was wait-listed?
    Also my grades weren’t super stellar my first semester so is there any way when I call them to get them to tell me the reality of my chances of me getting in based on my first semester grades?

    One last thing- I feel like it’s a double edged sword trying to transfer because you have to ask professors to write recommendations to leave the school they represent for another school that is their rival, so what happens if you DON’T get into the school you are trying to transfer to and stay at the school you were trying to transfer from?- I feel like the professors and admin. would not look as kindly upon me and help me as much because they would know I wanted to transfer. Am I totally off-base here? Thanks!

    1. Lily,
      You really hit the nail on the head with the double edged sword, actually. If you don’t end up transferring, there may be some backlash.
      However, if you were WL at UGA last year and you did well at GSU (top 20 percent or higher, preferably) then you may be able to pull this off. Why don’t you call and talk to UGA and ask them about their transfer standards?

  28. Hey Ann Levine,

    Im trying to transfer to Miami or Loyola Marymount from DePaul University Law (1L), i did okay my first semester (A, B+ and B) but one class grade killed me (c-). What do i need to do in order to help me reach my goal??

  29. Hi Ann!

    First semester grades are in and I did not do so hot! I’ve been hoping to transfer from a Tier 3 school (Chicago-Kent) to a Tier 4 (NIU), primarily to save money.

    Do you feel that my grades would still need to be at the top of my class to transfer to a lower ranked school?

    Thanks, it’s clear you know what you’re talking about.

    1. Courtney, I don’t know what “not so hot” means. You can try to transfer to NIU, and it might be good for you to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and save money. However, NIU’s latest data shows they took NO transfers. Call their admission office and inquire.

  30. Wow, thank you for the quick response and advice! I’ll be sure to contact them.

    We don’t get our class rank until after the spring semester, but my GPA is a dismal 2.7. I’m sure that puts me in the bottom half.

  31. Hey Ann Levine,

    Im trying to transfer to Miami or Loyola Marymount from DePaul University Law (1L), i did okay my first semester (A, B+ and B) but one class grade killed me (c-). all 3 schools are tier 2 schools. What do i need to do in order to help me reach my goal??

  32. Hey Ann,

    I was just admitted to Hofstra Law. I will be going there next fall. I was wondering if it would be possible to transfer to schools such as Fordham or Cornell after my first year if i do well enough or if that’s just a farfetched dream?

  33. Hi Ann,
    So I didn’t get accepted into any of the law schools I wanted to in the city I reside in. I was, however, accepted at Florida Coastal, a 4 tier school. If I decide to go there, what would my chances be of transferring to another school such as DePaul University/Kent in Chicago. I did horrible on the LSAT (143), and had a GPA of 3.3 while in college. Would it be better for me to retake the LSAT and go through the application process again or go for my first year and apply as a transfer student. I have been told by some that it would be smarter to go the first year so laws schools know my potential that way rather than look at my low LSAT. Any help and suggestions is greatly appreciated! Thank you!!