Thinking about Transfering as a 2L?

Law School Expert Blog

Earning great grades your first year can be a ticket into a fantastic law school (as my clients have proven time and time again – transferring from Touro to Cardozo, Golden Gate to William and Mary, Catholic to Georgetown). Here are some worthwhile insights into what the law schools are thinking, and how law firms might evaluate your record. I agree with the first comment under the post, by the way.

71 Responses

  1. Hi Ann,
    I have applied to Cooley, Western New England, Florida Coastal and North Carolina Central. My undergrand GPA is 2.79 and my LSAT score is 147. I also have a disorderly conduct conviction (a violation in New York State) in June 2010. I really want to practice law in New York State. I was wondering which of these schools you would suggest attending based on my desire to transfer to a New York school such as Touro or New York Law. Also what do you think my chances are of getting into the schools I applied to? Some schools I didn’t have to disclose my disorderly conduct due to the way the charater and fitness questions were asked(Western New England because the record is marked sealed). Other schools I had to send a certificate of dispostion(Cooley) which included my orginal charges, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana. Thank you for your time!

    1. Jason,
      I think the question is a bit premature – you need to see where you are admitted. I can’t emphasize enough that transferring is not automatic – and very few people are able to transfer because 90 percent of the class is NOT in the top 10 percent……I think you should see how you do with the schools you applied to and then we can talk about options/careers, etc. I think, with a strong application, there are schools in the northeast you should have applied to.

    2. Hi Ann,
      I love reading this blog. So I was wondering what your take on my situation is. I have a disability and was granted LSAT accomodations. I’m also URM & non-traditional student. I was PTing average 158-159 but scored 154 which I wasn’t happy about. After 2 more months of study, I printed the test of LSAC website and scored 161! My GPA was 3.04 mostly due to complications with my disability.

      Disappointed and hopeful, I’ve rescheduled test for February 2017 but have already been awarded $30k/year from Stetson which is about 73% of tuituion. Room & board is also super cheap there at $489/mo. I also love the beach and that I can live on campus which is rare for a 3T law school.

      My dream school though is Georgia State, a 2T, where I went for undergrad in my city of Atlanta, but also because they are #3 in Health Law, which I want to practice. GSU encouraged me not to apply until March when Feb scores come out. Even with a 160 scholarship at most will be $5k a year due to my low GPA (tuition there is $17k a month). Caveat, though, is I may be distracted my friends and boyfriend here and it’s in the middle of downtown traffic which is expensive and horrid.


      1. Geanina, Thanks for reaching out. I’m glad the blog has been helpful to you.
        It sounds like you have a personal decision to make. Stetson’s reputation is growing, I believe, but you need to do what’s best for you and how you will be in the best frame of mind to succeed in law school.

  2. If transfering is not a option (although I really hope it will be), will it still be possible to pass the New York bar? Is Western New England the best choice in that case over Cooley, NC Central and Florida Coastal? Should I wait another year and try to get into Touro? I found the LSAT extremely difficult and wonder how much better than a 147 I could manage. I took Kaplin prep course and my score had not changed at all. I will be 29 years old soon and don’t want to waste another year. Again thank you for your time.

  3. Hi Jason B, I think being close to NY will have its benefits. I can’t make a judgment on whether you will pass the bar or be admitted to the NY Bar based on your background. Those are questions you need to ask the NY Bar and/or an attorney who represents people seeking admission to the bar.

  4. Hi. I am struggling trying to decide which law school to attend and then considering a transfer. I am deciding between Dayton, Capital, Barry, and Regent. My GPA was 3.2 and LSAT 148. Which law school would help me to transfer possibly to Kentucky or Louisville? Thank you.

  5. Hello Ann,
    My name is Brian L. I have been accepted to the University of Memphis school of Law and Saint Louis University Law. My first pick was American University School of law because of my massive interest in studying international law. However I was wait-listed at American University and as time passes it looks as though I will not be granted admittance. Nonetheless, I would like to at least transfer to American University Law School for my 2L year. However, I am conflicted on what to do? See I am currently finished my first year of M.A. in Political Science at the University of Memphis. I was wondering if: I should try to finish my M.A. (then reapply to American University) or go ahead and finish my first year of law school (then attempt to transfer)? My LSAT Score is 155 and my GPA is 3.6 undergraduate and my masters GPA is currently 3.7. Thank You for your advice.

    1. Hi Brian L,
      First, most WLs don’t move until July and August so hold tight and don’t lose your patience (although American’s WL is always ridiculously long).
      I think it is more likely to get into American by reapplying and retaking the LSAT than by transferring.

  6. Hello Ann,
    Do you believe that it would be better to attend a lower ranked school and transfer or do you feel it would be better to retake the LSAT and reapply for the following year. My situation is that I have a 3.16 gpa and a 148 LSAT score. I did not get into the school I wanted to (McGeorge) but I believe I will be attending Thomas Jefferson. I am confident that I will do well my first year as I am going to be coming from a non-accredited school where I took many of the first year classes. I am just struggling to figure out if it would be better to just wait and retake the LSAT (though I did take it again once before and had the same score) or would I have a better chance of getting into the school I want by transferring. P.S. I am a non-traditional student with 15 years of work experience already. Thank you for any help you can provide.

    1. Mac,
      Generally, if you’re thinking you could improve your LSAT score and you know you wouldn’t be happy at the school where you’ve been admitted then you should wait a year. It’s not so easy to transfer. However, if you doubt you’d be able to raise your score (and if you’re in a hurry to get started) go to TJ but be prepared to be a stand-out there and network like crazy. If you end up with the grades to transfer to McGeorge then great, but if not you need to be prepared to finish what you’ve started at TJ.

  7. Ann,
    First of all, thanks for this site and your advice. It is a great resource on a confusing subject. My UGPA was a terrible 2.7 but my LSAT scores were decent at 159 and 164. I just finished my first year at San Francisco Law School, which is part-time and non-ABA (although it is Cal accredited). My 1L GPA is 2.81. I’m considering transfer applications to Golden Gate, U of San Francisco, and Santa Clara. How should I feel about my odds? Thanks!

  8. Hi Ann,
    I am applying to transfer to a top 10 school, but even if I get in, I don’t know if it’s worth the relocation and the disincentives of starting at a new school. I am top 2 percent and got invited to the law journal. I am at a top 30 school. My spouse has less career opportunities here and I am looking to practice in the market of the new school. My spouse also does not like our current city. Would it be disadvantageous for OCI and possible clerkships to transfer? Or are my grades at the home school good enough to get the job I want at OCI even without a history at the new school? And would the reputation of a top 10 school be just as beneficial as staying at my present school and being on law journal? Would transferring to the new school improve my chances at clerkship opportunities? Please help, since I am unsure. Thank you!

    1. M, FIrst, congratulations on your success this year. I think it’s fabulous to graduate at the top of your law school class. I think transferring is a real possibility for you. I’ve had clients make the same move and they miss the accessibility to faculty and the friends they made as a 1L. However, if the cost between the two would be the same then it’s more likely you’ll find it worthwhile to move up. My clients who transfer have not had real difficulty with jobs (you might not have your first pick like you would at the top of your class at your current school but you won’t wind up empty handed just because you transferred). You can still keep your accomplishments at the current school on your resume. You might lose out on a journal, but I don’t think that’s the end of the world. You could always join as a 3L if you want. Talk to other people who transfered to that particular school and see what they tell you. Good luck!

  9. Many thanks, Ann. I really would like to do a clerkship after graduation. Is being on journal necessary to gain a clerkship?

  10. Hello Ann,
    I am currently a 1L at Florida Coastal School of Law (4th Tier) and finished my first semester with a 3.2 GPA and ranked in the top 16% of my class. I was hoping to attempt to transfer to another state school, Florida State University (2nd Tier), at the end of this year. Assuming I maintain my grades, how likely/unlikely do you think this prospect to be? Thank You!

    1. George, as long as FSU would let you do it (in terms of finishing your first year in the winter instead of the spring) then I think you could be a contender.

  11. 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.

  12. I am debating whether or not to go to Southwestern Law School as opposed to Golden Gate Law School. Southwestern is a 3rd Tier school and Golden Gate is a 4th. I am hoping to do very well my first year. If I am in the top 10% at Golden Gate, do you think I would be a candidate for transferring to Pepperdine for my 2nd year? Or will they not consider me because I went to a 4th tier school?
    Thank you!!

    1. Sarah, Congrats on having this great choice to make. Everyone plans to do very well their first year, but 90% of law students aren’t in the top 10% so just be a bit cautious in that regard. However, if you are in that range then transferring to Pepperdine may be realistic. But it would be from SW too. I’ve had clients in the top 10% at SW transfer to USC!

  13. Hi, Ann,

    A few law schools that I’ve seen, specifically University of Texas and University of North Carolina, indicate that a successful transfer applicant must present “compelling” reasons and specifically state that a better school, in-state tuition, and better job opportunities are not compelling. So I’m wondering what reasons are considered compelling and why this requirement exists? It seems like if a student has the grades and space exists, that student shouldn’t have to present any reason other than their desire to transfer.

    1. Chris, schools don’t necessarily want an influx of transfers, nor is there usually room for too many. State schools (the two examples you’ve given) have a mission to serve the local population so having ties to the state is an important part of the process.

  14. Hello,

    I had a few questions for you. I am looking to make a very big jump in law schools. I have been working hard this year and I want to see what it takes to make a transfer application that would be be very noticeable to any ivy league school from a tier 3 school. I know the obvious top 10% of the class but are there any extra circulars that I should get involved in now to prepare? Also, do they put any weight on factors such as speaking five languages if you do get the grades for someone who wants to go into international law? Any tips you could give to enhance my overall appeal beyond the numbers to the ivy school would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you very much!

    1. Alexa,
      It comes down to academic performance in law school – which means grades, rank, and faculty recommendation(s). Your reasons for wanting to transfer are #2. They should be specific and definite, well thought out and convincing. Extracurriculars are very low down on the list.

  15. Hi Ann,

    Thanks so much for this website. I recently found out that my husband’s job is transferring him to Tuscon, AZ. I am a 2L in Atlanta, GA. I want to move with him in May and would like to try to transfer to the University of Arizona. Do you have any information on transferring for a reason like this? I’ve done well at my current school (Georgia State – top 18%). Will they weigh in the necessity of my relocation when considering my application?

    Thank you.

  16. Afterthough question: Do you know how long law school credits are good for? If I do not want to transfer the year after the move, can I wait a few years (obtain in state residency etc.) without losing my first year credits?

  17. In the process of completing transfer applications to Chapman, Southwestern, and Cal Western for the Fall 2012 semester.

    Currently a 2L (spring start) at John Marshall in Chicago w/ a 2.9 gpa (B- curve), ranking is still unknown(prob top 40-50%) but I made a drastic improvement between 1st and 2nd semester.

    Have an amazing rec from my legal writing professor, who’s class i received an A+ in

    Reasons for transferring: Have a job lined up through a family member in So Cal, want to practice and take the bar in california

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated Ann

  18. Ann,

    I am a first year student at suffolk law, and want to transfer to New York School of Law. I got mostly all B’s this semester, what do you think the chances of me getting into that school since there are very similar in ranking and everything…

  19. Hi, I am currently a 1L at georgetown and am planning to apply to transfer to Harvard next year. Last year I made it to the wait list phase. I am a Yale alum, but had a relatively poor UGPA , a 3.5, and a 170 LSAT. First semester grades are out, and I got a 3.65, which per last year stats should put me in the top 15%. I can’t seem to find any info on stats for transfers GPAs and school origins. I also should have strong recommendations from my profs. Can you give me a sense of where I would stand if I can keep my grades at this level or higher? Or where I could find past transfer students’ stats?


  20. Hi, I am in my first year at FAMU College of Law in Orlando. My first semester I received a 3.73 gpa. I am looking to transfer to Florida and Florida State, with Duke as a reach school. Do you believe that a high gpa at a lower ranked school will hurt me, or do I have a legitimate shot?

  21. Hi, I was accepted to Florida coastal, Nova, Charleston and St Thomas and on hold for a few other schools. I mad a 149 on the Lsat and had a 3.52 GPA and was on the debate team in college. I wanted to know if any of these schools were better than the other? I was thinking of just going to Florida Coastal because they are offering me a scholarship and just transferring to University of Florida. I want to be a juvenile court lawyer what do you think my best option is

    1. Ania,
      You don’t have enough information to make this decision because you are waiting for other decisions. You should do your research about all of these schools – and visit each of them – before making your decision between them. Ask tough questions about careers and loan repayment.

  22. Ann,

    I am presently deciding on where to attend 1L, however my undergrad GPA from Loyola Chicago (2.83) was low, and my LSAT was 148. Retook the LSAT this past February, pending receipt of that score. At present with my initial LSAT, I was accepted at Charlotte Law, Barry in Orlando, Mississippi College, Faulker, and Cooley (all tier 4). The schools of concern to me now are in Southern Florida where my family has a residence and I would not need to pay for housing. Those schools are St. Thomas University in Miami and Nova Southeastern in Ft. Lauderdale. My primary question is if either of those schools take me in FL, or if I must choose from the others, what are my chances of transfer back to Chicagoland (John Marshall, Kent, Loyola, DePaul).

    Thank you.

  23. Hi Ann,
    I am stuck between attending Rutgers Newark and Univeristy of San Francisco Law. I am in-state at Newark so I’ll be paying half of what I’d be paying in San Francisco. However, I’d like to move to San Francisco to practice IP Law once I graduate. Do you think it’s a stupid idea to stay in New Jersey/New York during my three years at law school and then make the move out there? If it’s possible, I’d like to consider transferring to UC Hastings after my first year as well. Please let me know what you think. Thanks! –Sam

  24. Hi, I was accepted into Florida Coastal. Can you give me some insight into the chances of transferring to any other higher tier law schools?

    What schools might accept me if I have a Florida Coastal stamp?

    1. David, Just plan on not transferring. If you end up being at the top of your class, you might have some opportunities to transfer, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  25. Hi Everyone,

    My name is France and I have a 3.48 UGPA and 141 LSAT score. I still applied to many tier 1 and 2 schools. After being rejected, I am considering Touro and Cooley. Hopefully after doing very well I will reapply to Fordham as a 2L. Would you reccomend I take this route, or should I wait a year, retake the LSAT which I am not too confident about and then apply?


  26. Hello Ann,
    I have a low UGPA of 2.9 and low LSAT 137 and I was accepted into Charlotte School of Law. Graduate GPA 3.76. I wanted to know what are the odds of me transferring out to attend a 2 tier law school.


  27. Greetings Ann,
    I have been wait listed at Southwestern for the full time program. I recently toured the school and my guide told me that expressing interest in the part time day program would get me in. Is it worth holding out for full time status? I was also offered $25K to attend NYLawSchool and $29k from Phoenix Law.
    I would love a chance to do really well and transfer to Pepperdine. Can I do that from Southwestern’s part time day program?

    1. Padraig, Please don’t even consider going to Phoenix. If you are a California person, do what you can to get into SW. You can only transfer from PT program to PT program, so Pepperdine probably wouldn’t be an option. You can call the Admission Office at Pepperdine and inquire.

  28. I have a 3.37 (Top 25%) GPA at Indiana University in Indianapolis (Rank 89). However, this school is much more regional than I anticipated and I’d like to work in Chicago. What do you think my chances are of transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Rank 35) or a higher ranked school? Is it worth transferring if I’ve made it onto a law review and would be paying at least twice as much? Thanks for your thoughts!

  29. Hi Anne,

    I got accepted into University of Dayton, Golden Gate, Western State and offered substantial merit scholarships from each. I am wait listed at Chapman, a tier 3. Dayton is offering me the highest scholarship award, with GGU offering the second highest. Both are pressuring me to make a decision here in the next few days. I have been reading reviews endlessly and learned that in 2005 GGU was put on probation by the ABA. I am also hearing some horror stories about grading curves cutting out the bottom 1/3 of the class. This last piece of information, is concerning, but not as much as the probation. I know these are not Top tier law schools. My interest and passion is in international and public interest law. I know you get this question every time, but assume I rank in the top 15-10% of my Class between Dayton, GGU, and Chapman which school will I have the best likelihood of transferring out of into UC Hastings, Davis, or, if miracles happen, Boalt? Also does the fact that I have been awarded merrit scholarships help my chances of transferring out? I know 90% of 1Ls don’t make those rankings, but assuming I am in the top rankings, which of these schools may help increase my odds? Thank you so much for your advice.

    1. Selena, 2005 was a long time ago. Look into Western State’s history too…..
      Grading curves are a factor but if you are on scholarship then you probably have high entering numbers and are unlikely to be in the bottom of the class. Of course, there are no guarantees.
      You won’t be transferring to Boalt from GG. But if you are at the very top of your class you may have the other options. However, think more about the fact that you will most likely graduate from the school where you start law school and choose carefully.

  30. Hi Ann,

    My situation is that I a 26 and have a UGPA 3.5 in the last two years of college after transferring to a different undergrad school but CUM UGPA 2.7 due to a rough start in college my first two years and 152 LSAT. I took the LSAT twice and do not believe I can raise my score any more and feel trying to study and retake the test is a waste of time. Do law schools take in account if my last 2 years of college were significantly better than my first two? Also, what do you think the chances are of transferring to Florida or Florida State if I were to attend either Stetson Law or Florida Costal and rank the top 15 %-20 % of my class? If so, would it be possible to transfer after my first semester or would it have to be the first year? Or do you believe with such a average LSAT score my chances of being stuck there would be high? Thank you very much for your time. Any advice helps.

    1. Garret, Your upward trend absolutely matters – yes. And if you are in that ballpark at FC or Stetson, you’d be in the range to transfer to UF or FSU -absolutely. But these schools take people after the 1L year is complete.

  31. Hi Ann,
    I am presently a 1L at a newly ranked law school in a major city. My first semester grades are 3.50 GPA with a rank of top 15 %. What are my chances of transferring to schools like Fordham, Penn, Georgetown, Notre Dame or Temple.

    1. Bart, (Great last name, btw)
      I just don’t know enough about you to really answer, except vaguely – try it! See what happens! Nothing to lose but application fees.

  32. Hi Ann,

    I am currently attending a T4 school and came in with a 2.1 GPA and a 149 LSAT score. Last semester, I achieved a 4.0 GPA and ranked in the top 1% of my class. I am continuing the same study habits and hoping to achieve the same this semester. Despite my less than ideal undergraduate record, what would you say my chances are for a T2 or a T1 law school as a transfer student? How much emphasis is placed on your undergraduate record versus your law school record? I would love to attend American University in Washington DC but I’m not sure if I’m competitive enough with my undergraduate record.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Darcy, depending on the school where you are currently attending (not all T4s are the same), I would say it’s definitely worth a try to transfer to a T2, T1. Cast a wide net and see where you get in. Your hard work this year will absolutely pay off for you, because you have proven that your UGPA and LSAT score were not accurate predictors of your ability to succeed in law school. Your performance in law school (supplemented by faculty letters of rec) will be the guiding forces, along with a personal statement, resume, and addendum to explain your entering credentials.

  33. Hi Ann,

    I am currently choosing between Northeastern School of Law and American WCL. I’m planning on transferring after my 1L to a more competitive program. Though WCL is ranked higher than Northeastern, I’m from the Boston area and it would be cost-effective for me to attend Northeastern. That being said, I’m worried Northeastern’s ‘no grades’ system might hurt my chances when applying to transfer. Do you have any advice? I was in the top 5% of my class in undergrad, however scored only a 153 on my LSAT. Thanks!


    1. Daniel,
      Although I did have a client from Northeastern a year ago who transferred to Northwestern, it was mostly based on his masters and undergrad performance since NE doesn’t have grades.
      If you do well in the classroom, you will want to be somewhere you can take advantage of that!

  34. Hi,
    I will be finishing my first year at Cal Western in December. You see I was a spring admit but I will be finishing at the top 10% of my class. I would like to transfer and I’m wondering what are my options. Do I have any?

    1. Dione, Yes, of course you have options. Just contact the law schools where you would hope to transfer and get information on timing.

  35. Hi,
    I am a 0L and I have two options. I can either attend Barry Law in Orlando and live with family, or I can receive a full ride plus 16,000 at Charlotte School of Law. I’m concerned about the for-profit standing and the bad reputation Charlotte has. I hope to transfer after the first year to a higher tiered school possibly Vanderbilt? Or better. I’m not sure what would be the better option. I’m from Orlando and I just started a receptionist job at a law firm and I’m already familiar with this area, but I might have to take out 20,000 in loans to attend Barry for 1L. Any school is worth avoiding that kind of debt. Please let me know what you think.

  36. Hi Ann,

    I’m going to end up with a 3.81 GPA at Mississippi College School of Law. I’ve got a full-tuition scholarship and the dean is offering an extra yearly stipend for me to stay. I’ll be in the top 5% of my class, the law school is unranked. My goals are either big law firm and then public interest law or immediately go into public interest law.

    Ive applied for transfer to Notre Dame. Also considering Harvard, Berkeley, and Georgetown. My question is it worth it to transfer? I know for certain I don’t want to work in the South where my current regional law school is located. Do you have any advice? Thank you!

  37. Hello Ann,

    I recently choose between two law schools the first the University of Dayton, which is offering me a full ride and second Howard school of law which gave me a small scholarship. I was thinking about going to Dayton for a year and trying to transfer to Howard next year as a 2L. I’m not worried about my academics my first year, but I am troubled about how Howard might view my application. This is because I originally was going to go to Howard and had already paid the seat deposit, but recently realized I could not financially afford to live in D.C. Do you think the fact I was originally admitted, paid the seat deposit, but decided not to go last minute will really affect the way they look at my application when I apply as a transfer? Also, what additional things do you think I can do to insure my application looks the best when I apply as a transfer?

    1. Taylor,
      Attend the school you want to graduate from. Tell them about the financial situation – tell them about your scholarship at Dayton. See if they can work something out.
      I wish you all the best.

  38. Hello Ann,

    I have a few questions I need help with. My girlfriend got accepted to whitter law about a year ago and had a choice to transfer to chapman university or to western university of law this past year. She chose western because they were going to pay about 75% of her tuition. Now, she’s doubting herself because the professors seem not to help when asked for it from students and the students don’t really care to talk to one another. Can you give me any advice that I can relay back to her about changing my girlfriends patterns or doing something else? She comes home crying because she doesn’t know what the professors want from her. Some of the professors grade with stickers. I’ve asked her to transfer out of there but she said as a 2L or a 3L, not sure, she can’t transfer out anymore because if she were to do that western would be on her diploma? Is that true? Please help me to help my girlfriend.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. JohnG, I’m sorry sorry she’s been going through this. I wish I knew what to tell her. She should reach out and talk to an administrator at the school and see if she can get support. She can contact Chapman and see if they would take her as a transfer, but it might mean wiping out this semester’s grades. I hope it all works out.

  39. Hey, Ann, I’m going to a law school in Midwest that ranks somewhere 25-30.

    I got my grade back from the first semester and It’s not that great (3.3). If I get straight A from this semester, do you think I will have a shot for transferring to a school ranks within in T14?

    Thank you for your time.

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