What the Elite National Law Schools Are Looking For From Transfer Applicants
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 10:27AM
Brad Dobeck


What the Elite National Law Schools Are Looking For From Transfer Applicants

By Brad Dobeck, Esq.

President, PrelawAdvisor.com

Spring 2009

Schools listed in accordance with the 2010 US News & World Report ranking.

Data Source: ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, 2009 Edition

1. Yale—Submit between May 1 and July 1, 2009. You must have finished “the equivalent of one year at another ABA-approved law school.” “A college degree and an outstanding record at another law school are prerequisites. In my experience, Yale is by far the toughest law school to reach via a transfer application. Essentially you have to have been a near-miss in your initial application, ideally waitlisted, and then producing a stellar year at your actual law school, ideally becoming number 1 in your 1L class after the first year. Yale receives about 200 transfer applications and makes offers to about 12 of them. All of them enroll.

2. Harvard—The deadline for transfer application submission is July 1, 2009. “Applicants for transfer admission must have completed one year of full-time study in a JD program (or one third of total credits required in a part-time program) at a United States law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Students may apply for transfer to begin the second year of JD studies in the fall semester only.” Harvard sets a formidable standard for transfer admission. You need all elements of it: “Many successful transfer candidates typically place very near the top of their first-year law class and would have also been admitted or wait-listed as first-year students on the basis of their pre-law-school credentials.” Harvard enrolls about 29 transfer applicants.

3. Stanford—The deadline to apply is June 15, 2009. Stanford seeks only those with “superior academic records in law study,” a standard in my experience only slightly less tough than Harvard’s standard. “Applicants must have completed one full year of law study.” And note that for Stanford, you must have studied law at a law school which is a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), a smaller group than the list of ABA-approved law schools. (Essentially, if you are at a Tier 4 law school, Stanford won’t consider your application.) Stanford enrolls about 12 transfer applicants.

4. Columbia—Columbia wants your transfer application by July 15, 2009. It will accept applications from students at AALS or ABA-approved schools (although it will not give credit for “work completed in an American law school that is not a member of the Association of American Law Schools.”) Columbia wants transfer applicants “who have done outstanding work in other approved law schools.” Columbia enrolls about 61 transfer applicants.

5. NYU—At NYU, transfer applicants must have completed first-year course-work by July 1, 2009 in order to apply. “They must have earned no less than 28 and no more than 33 credits in order to be eligible for admission.” You must submit your NYU transfer application by July 1, with all supporting documents received by July 15. NYU enrolls 42 transfer applicants.

6. Berkeley (tied with Chicago)—“Admission to Berkeley Law with advanced standing is competitive. The school usually receives more than 200 applications for the 30 to 40 places available in the second-year class for transfer students, and those who are accepted are usually in at least the top3-5 percent of their classes.” Berkeley wants transfer applicants who have been full-time students, who have earned 24 to 31 credits, for work of “very high quality.” Students who have more than 31 credits may apply to Berkeley, but credits beyond 31 won’t be recognized. Transfer applications are accepted until June 15, 2009. Berkeley enrolls 39 transfer applicants.

6. Chicago (tied with Berkeley)—The University of Chicago Law School seeks “successful students at other law schools.” “We base our transfer admissions decisions primarily on an evaluation of the applicant's law school performance, including the law school attended and a letter of recommendation from a law school professor. While the LSAT and undergraduate recordare still considered and will be a part of the file,theyare not as critical to the application as the applicant's current law school record.” Transfer applicants must ensure that we have received their application and all supporting materials, including the Law School Information Form and a law school transcript containing all first-year law school grades, by July 1, 2009.” Chicago receives 150-200 transfer applications each year and enrolls 16.

8. Penn—Penn Law is looking law students “who have achieved excellent records at other law schools.” You must have completed a full-time first-year program at another law school to be considered. Penn requires your law school to be a member of the AALS, thus eliminating some Tier 4 schools. Applications must be received by July 15, 2009. Penn enrolls 25 transfer applicants.

9. Michigan—Michigan wants transfer applicants with “outstanding first-year law school records.” They want applicants who have “demonstrated outstanding academic promise as first-year students at other law schools by earning first-year grades that place them at or near the top of their class. Class rank is an important factor in our evaluation process; successful applicants are typically in the top 10 percent of their class, based on first-year grades at their current law school. Applications are due by July 21, 2009. Michigan enrolls 42 transfer applicants.

10. Duke (tied with Northwestern and UVa)—At Duke, “most successful transfer applicants have a law school record that puts them at least in the top quarter of their class. We are particularly interested in admitting applicants who have specific reasons for wanting to be at Duke Law and seem likely to be active members of our community. Transfer applicants must have completed the entire first year of legal study at an ABA-approved law school with membership in the Association of American Law Schools, and must complete at least two years of study at Duke Law School.” Duke’s application deadline is July 1, 2009. Duke enrolls 12 transfer applicants.

10. Northwestern (tied with Duke and UVa)—At Northwestern, to be considered as a transfer student, you must have earned at least 30 semester hours, or the equivalent, of credit at your former school and intend to complete your last two years of residence at Northwestern Law. Transfer applicants follow the same application procedure as for regular admission. Transfer applications should be submitted no earlier than June 1 and be completed by July 1. They review transfer applications in early July. Northwestern enrolls 43 transfer applicants.

10. Virginia (tied with Duke and Northwestern)—At UVa, they receive transfer applications beginning May 1, with their review process beginning on June 15. UVa gives “particular attention to performance in the first year of law school. “The transfer program is open only to applicants seeking entry as a second-year student in the fall semester. We do not admit transfer applicants who have completed only one semester of law study. To be eligible for enrollment with advanced standing, you must have completed at least 24 hours of classroom study at an accredited law school prior to enrolling at Virginia. Students enrolled in a part-time program may apply with fewer than 24 credits as long as they will have completed the remaining credits during an in-class summer session at their law school...No more than 32 hours will be credited...” UVa enrolls 42 transfer applicants.

13. Cornell—Cornell says, “Our Admissions Committee is interested primarily in your academic performance at your current law school, as well as in your reasons for wishing to transfer. Accepted transfer students are almost always at least in the top 10% of their first-year class.” Up to 32 credits will be approved from the law school first attended. Cornell receives over 75 transfer applications each year. Its deadline is July 15, 2009. It enrolls 10 transfer students.

14. Georgetown—GULC reviews transfer applications for both spring and fall semester admission. Competitive candidates are typically in the top 15% of their current law school class with an A-/B+ average. Transfer applicants are considered for either the full-time or part-time division, or both. GULC will accept for transfer a maximum of 30 semester hours earned at a student's previous institution. GULC’s application deadline in June 15, 2009 for fall 2009 transfer enrollment. GULC enrolls 93 transfer applicants.

15. UCLA (tied with Texas)At UCLA, “The faculty believes that it is appropriate to make some spaces available in the second year for those who have achieved academic distinction during their first year at other law schools.”UCLA’s deadline is July 5, 2009. UCLA enrolls 35 transfer applicants.

15. Texas (tied with UCLA)—“Due to the size of our student body, only a few students with outstanding law school records are accepted as transfer students each year and then only if the applicant presents compelling reasons for continuing his or her law studies in Austin...Admission as a transfer student is competitive. The decision regarding admission of a transfer applicant will turn on such factors as: the applicant's undergraduate record, the strength of the applicant's law school performance, the Law School's capacity to handle additional students as transfers, and the applicant's reasons for wanting to transfer.” No more than 30 credit hours may be transferred. The transfer application deadline is July 15, 2009.

17. Vanderbilt—“Law students who have completed one year of study in a J.D. program at an ABA-approved law school may apply for transfer admission.” Vanderbilt is interested in “the reasons you would like to complete your J.D. at Vanderbilt” or why you “need to be located in Nashville.” Vanderbilt’s deadline is July 1, 2009. Vanderbilt enrolls 17 transfer applicants.

18. USC“To be eligible to apply as a transfer student, applicants must have a weighted overall average which places them in the upper 20% of their first-year class.” USC’s deadline is July 3, 2009. USC enrolls 3 transfer applicants.

19. Washington University in St. Louis—At WUSL, “Competitive candidates are typically in the top 20-25% of their current law school class with an A-/B+ average. The School of Law will accept for transfer a maximum of 29 semester hours earned at a student's previous institution (the number of semester hours earned by our first-year day students). A minimum of 22 credits is required for transfer.” WUSL’s deadline is August 1, 2009. WUSL enrolls 36 transfer applicants.

20. Boston University (tied with Emory and Minnesota)—At BU Law, they seek transfer applicants with “academic ability and potential for law study.” BU’s deadline is June 15, 2009. BU Law enrolls 7 transfer applicants.

20. Emory (tied with Boston University and Minnesota)—At Emory, “Students who wish to transfer to Emory from other fully accredited law schools (ABA-AALS) will be considered after completing their first year if they rank in the upper half of their class. If you are in a part-time program at a law school, you must have completed the equivalent of a full-time first year curriculum at your institution.” Emory’s deadline is June 30, 2009. Emory enrolls 22 transfer applicants.

20. Minnesota (tied with Boston University and Emory)—At UMN, “The Law School's transfer and visiting students enhance our classrooms and community. Admission as a transfer student or a visiting student is available to those applicants who have been attending a law school that is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is accredited by the American Bar Association.” UMN’s deadline is July 1, 2009, although it will be waived upon written request. Minnesota enrolls 24 transfer applicants.

28. George Washington*--At GW, “The primary factor considered in an admission decision is the student’s first-year law performance.” GW’s deadline is July 1, 2009. GW enrolls 61 transfer applicants.

*Normally, one wouldn’t go outside of the top 20 law schools, when considering a transfer to an elite national law school. GW has in recent years been included in this top 20 group. In a shock, it fell to 28th place in the new 2010 US&WR rankings. This occurred because the magazine started counting the GPA and LSAT data of enrolling night students with GW’s day numbers. GW has responded with an invitation to let new night students become either day or night students. I expect that GW will raise the 2010 GPA/LSAT “price tag” for its night program to make it equal to its day program. GW is an elite national law school.

Are you certain that you are on the right path to an elite law school? Sometimes you have to have help, in order to know that you need help. Send an e-mail to BradDobeck@aol.com or call him at 703.237.8531 to get the help that may make all the difference in your campaign for an elite law school.


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