More on Transferring Law Schools

Law School Expert Blog

Law schools are finding creative ways to make it hard on students who hope to transfer after the first year of law schools. See this post on Blackbook Legal.

355 Responses

  1. Hi Ann,

    I was wondering what the process looked like in transferring to a lower-ranked law school than the one I’m at. I’m currently at USC in Los Angeles, and if I wanted to transfer to a school ranked in the 20s and maybe even 30s, would I need to be at the top of my class? What does the competition look like there? I guess I’m wondering what incentives law schools have to accept transfers to see if I would be a more valuable asset to them or not.


    Anna L.

    1. I think most people would think you are crazy, Anna. The reason is that a school isn’t likely to offer you a scholarship so why would you leave a top 20 school? You’re at a great school and I don’t want you to get freaked out – you deserve to be there if you are there. Make the most of the opportunity!

    2. Hi Ann,

      I hope this mssg finds you well and you could potentially help me with this inquiry. I got accepted into Cooley but I would eventually like to transfer out to Hastings or Golden Gate after my first year (potentially before if I can).

      What are some things that I should look out for? Is it hard to transfer out?

      I do not want to wait another year to reapply.

      Thank you sooo much!

      1. Laura, I think it’s short-sighted to attend Cooley if you wouldn’t be happy graduating from Cooley. Transferring will be difficult, and in fact you should research attrition rates at Cooley before you commit.

  2. Ann,

    Is there anything wrong with re-submitting the same personal statement that you used in your application as a pre-1L to the same school as a transfer applicant, or is that taboo? (I feel that my essay was very strong and represents me well; I’m confident that my LSAT score is what kept me from gaining admission to the school in question).

    Thanks in advance.

    1. ooooh! Bad form Scott- you need to at least update it and show more depth/growth/focus than you did before you had a clue about law school… Plus, they’ll have the previous year’s application – usually in the same file.

  3. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for your feedback. Another question – could you help me think through the pros/cons of transferring from USC to UCLA? I know it’s only one spot up, but it would also be cheaper. The only other factors I’ve been thinking about are qualitative (area of town, etc.) and I would really appreciate your insight.

    Anna L.

  4. Anna, In your case it’s not about ranking but about quality of life. Why not apply to transfer and then see if you have a decision to make?
    Wishing you the best of luck with this, knowing you’ll be in great shape whether you transfer or stay where you are.

  5. Hi Ann,

    I’m a 1L at Temple, am somewhere in the top 10%-15% of my class, and am interested in transferring.

    At what level in the rankings should I shoot for? Should I be thinking about schools like Penn, Georgetown, or BU? Or more in the low 20s/mid 30s?

    Many thanks for your incredible expertise,

    1. Hi Matt, You can try any school – it’s very hard to predict as a transfer since there aren’t published statistics for transfers. However, remember that people at schools ranked higher than Temple are also thinking about transferring up. That being said, I’ve helped clients from Golden Gate to William and Mary and from Loyola Los Angeles to Georgetown, and from NYU to Stanford (for example). Apply to any school you would choose over Temple and see what happens. Good luck!

  6. Hello-

    I will not be done with my undergraduate classes till the end of this summer. Most of the Law schools I have looked at begin before the end of my semester. Therefore, I would not be able to start Law school until September of 2011. I do not really want to wait that long and was considering applying to schools that have January starting dates. Can you please give me an updated list or a link to an updated list of schools with this option. The lists I keep finding are out of date. Also, I would only want to go there for my first semester and then transfer to a different law school for that fall. Can you please give me your thoughts on this plan of action? Thank you!


    1. Rubina,
      Only a handful of schools have January starts. And it is nearly impossible to transfer after only one semester – and because you would be completely off schedule from the rest of the 1L class, you’d have a hard time transferring after your first year from a January start program.
      I know it’s hard to wait, but I think if you do your research you’ll see it’s necessary in order to give yourself the best long term options. Call a school that has a January start and ask about these issues and I think you’ll be able to come up with a good plan for timing your admission cycle.

  7. Dear Anne-

    Thank you very much for your advice. However would it be possible for you to still provide me with a list or an updated link with a list of schools that currently accept January admittance. I only ask so that I can show the list of schools to my parents. Once they see that none of the schools are what I am looking for, they might ease up on me from trying to rush me to find a school that starts in January. Thank you very much!


  8. Rubina,
    I think the more effective thing for you to do is show them the ABA LSAC Official Guide to US Law Schools and let them see for themselves. You will see clearly that the schools have either one admission deadline (in the spring) or two, which includes one in (usually) November.
    Unfortunately I don’t have time right now to revamp this list for you, but it’s pretty easy to check by school if you go by the “bible.”

  9. I currently finished my 1L at Cooley law school. I have heard much criticism about the school. The grading is tough(to purposely weed student out), thus the high attrition rate. I have a low LSAT score (mid 140’s), an MBA and a current GPA that is extremely low, but decent for my school (2.5).

    Do you think it possible for me to transfer laterally to another T4 school?

    Also, what about transferring to a T$ to a school with provisional accreditation?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. CER, You’re not going to be a good transfer candidate. It’s great that you’ve made it through your 1L year at Cooley, but your grades aren’t high enough to really put you in contention as a transfer to another ABA school. A provisional ABA school will probably be even more stringent about that because it will be very concerned about bar passage rates in order to become fully accredited. Therefore, it’s going to be hard to find a school that will take a chance on you. If you need to move locations, you can try to transfer, but it’s not something I would count on.

  10. Dear Ann,
    I’ll be a first year law student this Fall at George Washington which is ranked the 20th. I graduated from UCLA as an undergrad and would really like to transfer back to either USC or UCLA so I can live in LA. Considering that GW’s ranking is very close to USC and UCLA, how difficult do you think it would be for me to transfer?
    Thank you very much in advance for your help.

  11. Hi Ann,
    I’m starting law school at USD, ranked 50th. My LSAT score is what kept me from going to a top-ranked law school. I’m from N. CA and went to Berkeley undergrad, so NorCal is where my ties are. I’d really like to go back there next year and transfer to either Boalt or Stanford. Obviously I’ll aim to rank as high in my class as possible this year, but what ranking do you think I need to really have a shot? Also, does it automatically count against you if you’ve already applied and were rejected to a school you’re trying to transfer into?
    Thanks very much!

  12. Thanks Ann!
    And do you think it’s realistic for me to try and get into a school as highly ranked as Stanford or Boalt from USD?

  13. Hello ann,

    I need some serious real talk answers from you. My situation is Ive written the lsat more than once now, my lowest score is 139 my hihest is 149, as you can see Im having a hard time cracking it. I got into cooley law school and im seriously thinking about going in january. I am a Canadian student looking to be in the U.S. My gpa is 2.8 if changed to the U.S module, however i graduated with high honors at my university here in Canada. I am going to re write the lsat again either december or february. my ultimate goal is to transfer out after my first year. My question is should i go to cooley? or should re write the lsat get a high score, re apply or do i have no chances whatsoever.

  14. Hi Anne,

    I need help!!! I really want to transfer but my first semester gpa was horrible!! i have a 2.37 gpa and i have this semeseter and maybe next ( if i take only 2 credits) to boost my gpa to at least a 3.0. Can you give me some advice? I know i can do it but i am so nervous. Thanks

  15. Hi Anne,
    I went to a 50ish ranked law school and completed one semester before taking a leave of absence (I went straight to law school from undergrad and was burnt out). I moved to DC and am now working for a consulting firm. Is there any way I can transfer my one semester to another school part-time? My original law school is in a different state than I ended up in, and I don’t want to leave my job to go back and finish, but I do want to complete my degree at some point. Thanks!
    Thayer C.

  16. Hi Anne,
    I am currently a 2L at Rutgers-Camden in NJ. The school is okay, but has begun a nosedive through the rankings since my application. They gave me in-state tuition my 1L year, which made it incredibly affordable, particularly for a law school. I’d been admitted to higher ranked schools, but chose Rutgers for the price tag. However, since the PA bar results came out (and Rutgers looks like it will continue its nose dive) I’ve begun to wish I’d transferred.
    I’ve emailed almost 50 T1 and T2 schools to see if they will accept transfers after the first year. So far, Georgetown, Berkeley and UPenn definitely do not. My first year gpa was…interesting. Adjusting to NJ was a struggle, and I had no idea how to write for law school. My fall gpa was a 2.5, my spring was a 3.3. The improvement is definitely encouraging, and I think I’ll be able to continue to get better grades my 2L year, which might look good to higher-ranked schools.
    My question being: most of the schools require that you only transfer in ~30 units, equivalent to a 1L year. This means, if I stay at Rutgers for 2L (to prove that I can successfully hack a 2L year), I’ll still have two years at another school, instead of one. Is it worth it to transfer, if I can get in to a T1 school? I’m terrified of Rutgers dropping to T3 before I graduate, and of being limited to NJ for job prospects (I’m a west coaster, born and bred). Any advice on the worthiness of this course of action?
    Much appreciated,

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      It looks like you’re on an upward trajectory with your grades so definitely keep that up.
      It’s not worth it to try to transfer after your 2L year – that’s just not how things work. If you want to make connections on the west coast during your 3L year, consider applying as a Visiting law student somewhere on the west coast. And of course spend your summers there making connections. Your degree will carry you if you make the most of it. Perhaps I’m an optimist, but I believe we make our own opportunities. You chose Rutgers – become a big fish in that pond and be proactive about opportunities closer to home.

  17. Hi Ann,

    I am currently a 1L, first semester at Cooley law school as a part-time student with 9 credits. If I were to pick up additional 3 credits next semeter, I will have 21 for the entire year. Is 21 credits enough to transfer to another full time law school? If not, will other schools accept classes taken over the summer?


    1. Hi Dilan, you need to check with the schools you hope to transfer to, but this is one of the ways that Cooley makes it difficult to transfer….
      You may be able to transfer to a part time program, but you’ll have to check with each school because transfer policies are not universal.
      The absolutely most important thing will be to do very, very well at Cooley. It is notoriously difficult to transfer from there.

  18. Hi.
    I am currently a 2L at New York Law School. I am not in love with the school, and Im curious if any school would accept a transfer mid-2L?

    1. A.H. – not that I know of. I think at this point you need to do the best you can, seek out opportunities where you can, and remember you’re half way through and the hardest part is over.

  19. I attend NIU school of law as a 1L , but i really want to be in any NY law school , what is the easiest law school to transfer to in NY?