After starting law school, some law students seek to transfer to another law school. This occurs frequently enough to warrant advice and information. There are many reasons that law students seek to transfer, including financial reasons, job relocation of a spouse or partner, or to be closer to family. Occasionally, law students will seek a transfer to another law school that they perceive as having a higher status or ranking.
There are several factors that should be taken into account when considering a decision to transfer to another law school and, frequently, a student contemplating transfer should obtain relevant information concerning the consequences of a transfer.
- First, many of the strongest and most sustaining relationships between lawyers occur during their first year of law school and these relationships last throughout the law student's career. Students often comment on the loss of community and close friendships they made in their first year when they transfer to another law school.
- Second, students transferring to another law school are often not eligible for scholarships at the new law school. This factor may be significant for students who are considering forgoing a scholarship award at their home law school when they transfer.
- Third, many law school law reviews, journals, and moot court programs do not permit transfer students to be considered for membership on the law review and moot court teams until after a year at the new law school. This may preclude transferring law students from being considered for law review at all or for selection for the editorial board of the law review, or for selection to a moot court team.
- Fourth, in many schools, course selection for the fall will already have been completed by the time the student's transfer application is accepted. As a result, there may be limited access to courses that are desired or perhaps needed as prerequisites for later advanced offerings.
- Fifth, many law schools do not include the transferring law student's grades earned at the prior law school in the class ranking and some do not permit transfer students to be eligible for GPA-based graduation honors such as Order of the Coif.
The decision whether to transfer schools or remain at the law school of original matriculation is a difficult one. Some law students have no or little choice but to transfer law schools for personal or hardship reasons. Other law students considering a transfer do so to "game" the law school ranking phenomenon. This may be a dangerous gamble because of the negative aspects of law school transfers. Any law student considering transferring should gather as much information as possible concerning the ramifications of the transfer.
NOTE: Check with the law schools for their LSAC report requirements. Some schools may accept your record from your current law school in lieu of a CAS report. If they require a CAS report, you must have a current CAS file, and you must arrange for your current law school transcript and your undergraduate transcript to be sent to LSAC. Your undergraduate transcript must indicate the date your bachelor's degree was awarded.