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Transferring Law Schools: All You Need to Know

September 8, 2023
7 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 09/08/23

If you didn’t get into your top law school, you might be considering switching law schools after your first year. To learn more about the law school transfer process, read on! 

Three students walking on campus

More often than not, aspiring law students don’t get into their top law schools. Whether it be LSAT scores that didn’t quite make the cut or GPAs that were just decimal points away from the median, admissions committees reject applicants for various reasons.

While law school rejections can be disheartening, many students find comfort in knowing they can transfer law schools after their first year. With the ability to showcase their true academic potential in the legal field, many students are able to prove their worth and ultimately get into their top law school! 

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation and would like to transfer law schools, this guide will cover what you should consider before changing to a different law school, how and when to transfer, and what’s required for your transfer application!

What is a Law School Transfer?

Typically, you can switch to a different law school after your first year (1L) of studies. Once you've finished that first year and earned basic credits that most law schools accept, you can move to a new law school to complete the next two years of your education.

Transferring Law Schools: What to Consider

The prospect of getting into your dream law school after you’ve been rejected can be exciting! However, it isn’t easy and requires a lot of work. Before embarking on this tedious journey, it’s essential you consider the following factors:

The Ranking of Your Desired Law School

If you’re planning on transferring schools in hopes of upgrading and joining a higher-ranking school, it’s important to evaluate how much of an upgrade you’ll truly receive. If you’d like to get into a T14 school and are already enrolled in a top 20 law school, the upgrade may not be worth the trouble.

Not only are T14 extremely difficult to get into, but they are even harder to transfer to! Top 20 schools still hold high prestige and can offer excellent resources and education similar to the T14 schools. 

On the other hand, if you’re enrolled in a bottom-ranked or unranked school, getting into a top 20 law school will definitely be worth the work! These higher-ranked law schools can open more doors for you to have a successful legal career.

The Opportunities You’ll Miss Out On

Each law school is unique and offers its own externships, clinics, moot courts, journals, and more. Before you decide to transfer law schools, ensure you compare and contrast the opportunities and resources your current and transfer school offer. 

Based on the area of law you’d like to pursue, your ideal work location, and the courses you’d like to take, your current school might actually offer you more than one with a higher ranking! 

You may also miss out on scholarships if you transfer law schools. If you were offered a full-ride scholarship to your current law school, you would lose out on this when you transfer schools. Unless you can get an equivalent scholarship externally or through your desired law school, you might want to rethink switching schools!

The High Expectations

As a transfer student, your undergraduate GPA will no longer be the main form of academic evaluation. Instead, the committee will weigh your 1L grades more heavily. It’s important to remain realistic about your chances of getting into your top choice.

For the majority of high-ranking schools, you’ll be expected to be amongst the top 10% of your class in order to be considered competitive. In the highest-ranking schools, such as Stanford, you’ll need a perfect GPA to have a shot at transferring. All Stanford University transfer students have a median GPA of 4.0 in their 1L year. 

Getting a high GPA in your 1L year will be challenging! Most law students struggle in their first year because law school is such a novel experience. 1L students typically spend their first year getting familiar with the workload and learning the study methods that work best for them.

As such, you’ll have to put in a lot of work in order to become familiar with law school and excel in it simultaneously. It is a good idea to wait until you receive your first semester marks to see if you have a competitive chance of meeting your transfer school’s requirements.

How to Apply to Transfer Law Schools

The process to transfer law schools will vary depending on the school you’re planning to attend. The first step is to research the transfer process for your current school and desired school and learn the transfer policies. 

Once you’ve learned the policies and have confirmed your eligibility to apply for transfer, your desired school will have a transfer application you’ll need to complete. You will also have to go through LSAC to complete and submit an application transfer form.

When Can You Apply to Transfer Law School?

The majority of law schools require students to complete a certain amount of credits before they can apply to transfer law schools. Generally, students must finish their 1L year to transfer. Admissions committees want to know how you perform in your current law school to see if you’ll fit in theirs.

Most transfer applications open in the spring term right after your first year and close in the early summer. So, you should transfer between law schools when you have thoroughly researched your options and met all the application requirements. Ensure you research these deadlines well before you complete your first year to make sure you don’t miss them!

What Do You Need For a Transfer Application

Your transfer application will be very similar to your original law school applications. Most law schools will require you to submit the following:

A Personal Statement

If you were happy to submit your first round of personal statements and hoped you’d never have to go through that process again, think again!

If you’re reapplying to a law school, don’t resubmit your past personal statement. It could have been the one component of your application that held you back!

If you felt like your previous personal statement told an important narrative about who you are and what you value, you can reuse some of the same ideas, but make sure you improve them. 

Many transfer students include at least a paragraph or two to reiterate their commitment to the law school they’re applying to and to explain why they chose to reapply. 

A Resume

You’ll also need to include a resume with your application. Your new resume probably won’t be much different than your previous one, but if you have gained any more relevant experience, such as clinic work or moot courts at your current school, be sure you include it.

Regardless, see if there is any way you can make your resume stand out more. Since you don’t know which aspect of your application caused your rejection, it’s important you try to improve each one.

Letters of Recommendation

Most law schools will require you to submit at least two letters of recommendation with your application. One of these letters will have to come from a law professor at your current law school. As such, you want to ensure you build close connections with your professors even if you don’t plan on seeing them ever again! 

LSAT or GRE Scores

You don’t have to retake the LSAT or GRE in order to fulfill this requirement. Most law schools will ask you to submit the scores you used for your 1L application. While law schools will take these scores into consideration, they will not have as much weight as they did during your first application. 

Your 1L grades are what will matter most in this round of applications! However, if you would like to retake either of the tests, we can help you. Sign up for our private LSAT tutoring to learn how to ace the LSAT. There are also tried and true ways to study for the GRE


You’ll be required to submit your transcripts from your undergrad and 1L year. 

College or Dean’s Certificate

Depending on your law school, you’ll be asked to submit a college or dean’s certificate that requests information about any academic or behavioral disciplinary actions. 

Your current school’s Dean of Students or Pre-Law Advisor’s office will complete this form to confirm you have conducted yourself with integrity throughout your 1L year. 

Reasons Why You Should (And Shouldn’t) Transfer

You might be considering switching to a different law school, and that's okay. Common reasons include aiming for a better-ranked program, chasing a dream school you didn't get into initially, or wanting to study closer to where you'll practice law. These are valid reasons, but sometimes it's smart to think twice before deciding.

If your main reason for transferring is because a friend or partner is doing it, you don't like a specific professor, or you're not enjoying campus events at your current law school, it's worth taking a step back and examining your motivations.

Remember, these situations are personal, and with careful thought, some could make sense for a transfer. 

FAQs: Transferring Law Schools

If you have any remaining questions, read on to find your answers!

1. Does LSAT Matter For Law Schools Transfers?

Your LSAT score will still matter since you’re required to submit it with your transfer application. However, more emphasis will be placed on your GPA.

2. Can I Transfer as a 2L Student?

Generally, 2L students’ credits do not transfer properly for them to switch schools. While some schools may allow 2Ls to transfer, they’ll likely have to repeat their second year in order to do so. 

3. Do All Law Schools Accept Transfer Students?

While the majority of schools allot a certain number of spots for transfer students each year, it all depends on their current enrollment. They may not accept any transfer students in a given year if they already have full programs. 

4. Is It Difficult to Transfer Law Schools?

Yes, the process can be challenging. Not only will you be competing with hundreds of other students for a very limited number of spots, but you’ll also be expected to be a top achiever in your current law school.

5. When Should You Consider Transferring Law Schools?

Most people think about changing schools during their first and second years of law school. 

You can apply to transfer in the spring, and the applications close around mid-summer. It's not very common to switch schools during or after your second year because different schools have different credit requirements.

Final Thoughts

If you have your heart set on attending a law school and are up for the challenge, your hard work will pay off. You can get back on track to fulfilling your career goals exactly how you envisioned them! Get in touch with our transfer admissions team to learn more.

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Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.

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