What are My Chances of Transferring Law Schools?

Law School Expert Blog

As 1L grades and class rank are released, this is a very popular question. Since law schools do not have to release any information about the credentials of admitted transfer applicants, this can often feel like a crapshoot. But there are some key ingredients for successful transfer applicants.

The ideal transfer applicant:
1. Was in the top 20% or higher of the law school class at a reputable law school;
2. Has a great letter of recommendation from a law school faculty member;
3. Writes a compelling essay about reasons for wanting to transfer; and
4. As a bonus, was previously waitlisted at the school he or she is attempting to transfer to.

The bigger you are trying to jump up in the rankings, the higher your class rank should be.

If you are struggling in law school, and have a GPA at or under a 3.0, and/or a class rank in the bottom half of your law school class, transferring “up” is not realistic. If you want to be closer to home, you can try transferring to a similarly ranked law school, hoping they will be tempted by the tuition money as a balance out to their overly generous 1L scholarships this coming fall.

For more on transferring, see Chapter 19 of The Law School Admission Game, 2nd Edition.

15 Responses

  1. I’m a part time evening student at New England Law | Boston. I didn’t do to well my first year due to an unplanned pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. I received a 2.02 and I am not happy at this school. I’m looking for a fresh start in a different city. Realistically, what are my chances at transferring?

    1. Shanna I am sorry to hear about your circumstances. I am trying to decide between two schools as an 1L and NESL is one of em. Can you please elaborate on what you don’t like about the school? I was offered 15k a yr from them, and offered less at a higher ranked school Hamline. Any insight would be great.

  2. Hi Ann,

    I wish I had come across your page earlier. I did my 1L at University of Detroit Mercy and ranked in the 50th percentile with a cumulative GPA of 2.72.
    My undergrad GPA was 3.22 and LSAT score was 149.
    I recently moved to California due to my husbands job and applied to Golden Gate, Santa Clara, Hastings, Berkeley (I know that was a long shot) and I was rejected from all four. I am still waiting on a response from San Francisco and praying I get in.

    I was wondering-is it possible to email Santa Clara and Golden Gate and ask them to reconsider me as a visiting student due to my husbands job? Do you think that could work or is it a long shot?

    Please let me know ASAP. Thank You

  3. I am looking into two non-ABA accredited law schools in my area. The school that I would really like to attend requires me to take the LSAT before, which I plan to take in December. I am in my late 40’s and I feel I have waited too long to go to law school. I do not want to wait another year. My question is can I go to a non-ABA accredited law school (not my first choice in schools) for one year and transfer to another non-ABA accredited law school the school I really want to go to. Or should I wait another year and take my lsat first? It’s discouraging because that means I would have to wait another year to begin law school. Any suggestions?

    1. Lisa, It’s unlikely you’d be able to transfer but call the school you’d want to transfer to and ask if they ever take people from your non-ABA institution.

    2. You have not waited too long. I’m 10 years older than you and am starting law school this year. I have been offered excellent scholarships at 3 ABA-accredited schools in the top 100, one of them in the top 50 and was waitlisted at a T14. I highly recommend you try ABA-accredited schools and don’t assume you have no chance or are too old. My biggest mistakes life were when I put myself in a box and made assumptions that limited me, when I did not have to be limited. I am past that now, and I would hate to see you make the same mistakes I made.

  4. Hi Ann,

    I’m waitlisted at IU Maurer, Case Western, American and IU McKinney. I was admitted to Vermont. Does it seem like a long shot to transfer out of Vermont into one of those schools or possibly George Washington?

  5. Hi Anne,
    I am thinking about transferring to Emory, UGA, GSU, Georgetown. At my current law school, my fall semester GPA is a 2.75, and I am waiting on my final grades for the spring term. If I were to take additional classes in the summer to raise my GPA to possibly a 3.4, would this increase my chances of being able to transfer at either of these schools?

  6. I am not certain as to which schools would be willing to accept me… Would it be worth it to apply to any of them at all? Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

  7. Hi Anne,

    I am thinking from transferring from Golden Gate Law School to Boalt, granted if I receive the grades needed to do so. Is there anything I can do to get familiar with the transfer process that is specific to Boalt? Or know if any other students from my law school transferred?

    1. Hi Marianne,
      If you are just starting your 1L year this coming fall, the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself to succeed academically and get to know your professors. It’s going to be all about your grades this year!

  8. Hi Ann,

    I’m considering on transferring from a non-ABA law school to a ABA law school, what are my chances, if I even have any, on transferring from the two different types of school? Besides my ranking, gpa, and good letter of rec from the dean? Or would I need to start all over from the beginning to get into an ABA school?

  9. Hello, I want to transfer to Georgetown Law, I currently have a 3.676 at a school ranked around #110. Do I stand a chance?

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