Thinking about Transferring Law Schools?

Law School Expert Blog

It is possible to transfer law schools following your first year of law school. As a transfer applicant, your LSAT or GRE score is no longer a factor in admissions, and your undergraduate GPA is de-emphasized. Those were used to determine your likelihood of success in law school as a 1L, but nothing is a better indicator of your success in law school than your actual grades in law school.

Law students generally have three reasons for wanting to transfer: (1) moving to a higher ranked law school; (2) attending law school in a region where you hope to take the bar and/or practice law; (3) being unhappy at their law school because of cultural or “fit” reasons.

To transfer to a higher ranked law school, you should be in the top of your 1L class. Once you receive grades from your first semester of law school, you will not know your rank but you will know your GPA. Your 1L GPA will help you understand how competitive you might be to transfer to a higher ranked law school. If you have a 3.8-4.0, you are likely to be in the top 5% of your law school class. To make a big jump up in the rankings (From a top 100 to a top 20, for example) you should aim to be in the top 10 percent of your class. Top law schools do not take transfers at the same rate from every law school. For example, if you are at Penn and want to transfer to Harvard, you may only need a 3.6 GPA, but to transfer to Harvard from Penn State you would need to be #1 in your class at the end of your first year of law school.If you are trying to transfer to a similarly ranked school, being in the top 40% of your class may be sufficient.

You can see where schools take transfers from by looking at their ABA 509 report. This also gives you a range of law school GPAs accepted.

Law schools also place emphasis on a letter of recommendation from a law professor. Work experience and what you add to the class are also factors.

Your personal statement will be different as a transfer applicant. It will be more career focused and include reasons for why you hope to transfer, and specific reasons for wanting to transfer to that particular school.


Here are previous posts of mine on the subject of transferring law schools; I’ve personally responded to hundreds of comments on these posts, so be sure to read through them to see if your question is answered!

Thinking About Transferring as a 2L?:
The Empirical Legal Studies blog offers some great insights into what law schools are thinking when it comes to transfers.

A great option: Applying as a Transfer Student:
I go through some of my best success stories about transferring. Be sure to check out the 177 comments!

More on Transferring Law Schools: The Bluebook Legal blog breaks down the transfer student information. (Beware law school policies discouraging transfers!)

If you’re planning to apply to transfer after your 1L year and you’re looking for help, please contact me. I work with transfer applicants on their personal statement, resumes, diverse perspective essays, and other aspects of their law school transfer applications.

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