10 Elements to Successful Law School Transfer Admissions

This blog comes from our consultant Jayme McKellop, who prior to joining Spivey Consulting served as Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School. You can read more about Jayme at the end of this post.

Spring is a busy time in a law school admissions office. Everyone is focused on getting their remaining decisions out and putting together admitted student events. Inevitably at this time of year, the transfer questions start coming as well. The transfer application cycle is quickly approaching, so here are some general thoughts and tips on the transfer process based on some of the more frequently asked questions that we receive.

  1. There are many elements that factor into a decision for transfer admission, but your law school grades are at the top of the list. There is more to it than just your grades; the caliber of the student body at your current school and your employability are also big factors that are somewhat related to your first-year performance.
  2. Law school grades are important for obvious reasons. The caliber of student body is important because a law school wants to be confident that you will be able to continue your record of strong academic performance after you transfer—it doesn’t benefit anyone if you transfer and are not able to perform at a similar level. Employability matters because, in just a few short months, you will be going through OCIs, and all law schools want their students to be employed. This may be evidenced in other elements of the application such as letters of recommendation, but this also means that conducting yourself professionally in every single communication with the law school is even more necessary. Make sure that your resume includes your anticipated summer employment after your 1L year. Make sure your personal statement answers the exact question asked in the transfer application—they can vary wildly.
  3. LSAT and undergraduate GPA are less important. The admissions office no longer needs to “predict” your law school performance.
  4. Another important tip is to make sure that you include the reasons why you want to transfer in your application (by either working it into your personal statement or in an additional statement—follow the school’s instructions). Don’t just generically cite information from the law school’s website; you should be able to come up with thoughtful and genuine reasons for wanting to transfer.
  5. Never speak negatively about your current law school in your application or in communications with other law schools—it’s unprofessional (and happens far too often).
  6. Don’t sell yourself short. Many schools take relatively large transfer classes, and your grades may not have to be as perfect as you think. Just apply, particularly to schools that take larger transfer classes. On the other hand, I frequently used to see transfer applicants at the bottom of their classes applying to top 10 schools—there are probably better uses for your money than those application fees in that case.
  7. Does it make sense to transfer? Only you can answer that question. It depends on the differences between your current law school and the one to which you would be transferring (your grades/ranking at your current school, geography, employment opportunities, journal participation, scholarship/funding at your current school). Sometimes transferring can change the trajectory of your legal career. Other times, it may be best for you to stay where you are.
  8. The transfer admissions process is expedited. It happens fast. At Chicago, we always tried to read as many of the transfers as possible in a group to get a sense of as much of the entire pool as we could before making decisions—so this meant we often did not even start reading regular decision transfer applications until June (the timeline for the early action or early decision transfer programs would obviously be different).
  9. Once you get an admissions decision, be prepared for a quick turnaround, and realize that you may not have heard from all of the schools to which you applied before having to submit a deposit. You should also be prepared for your current law school to want to keep you, particularly if you have done well academically.
  10. Finally, relax. While we have found that many transfer applicants are wanting to start this process earlier and earlier, the transfer admissions process really doesn’t ramp up until mid to late spring for most law schools. Read up on each school’s process and deadlines, and research the journal writing competitions for each school. However, your first priority should be doing the best that you can in your second semester and making sure that you have a professor that can write a great letter of recommendation for you.

If you're looking for more help with your transfer applications, our expert law school admissions consultants offer one-on-one transfer application assistance. Just email us at info@spiveyconsulting.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

Jayme McKellop has almost 20 years of experience in legal practice, education, and consulting, serving as the Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School before joining the Spivey Consulting Group. At Chicago, she administered the application review process from start to finish, read thousands of law school applications, and was responsible for designing and implementing Chicago’s admissions interviewing program. She also managed Chicago’s student admissions committee, affinity group outreach, and several aspects of the admissions process. Before transitioning into law school admissions, she practiced employment and labor law at Sidley Austin in Chicago. Jayme has a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School and a B.A. in Psychology from Ohio University. Jayme is a detail person and enjoys helping clients find the best way to convey their authentic voice and ideas. She loves the strategy involved in admissions on both the applicant and law school sides. Jayme is also an animal welfare advocate and has worked on several legislative initiatives related to companion animals and addressing the problem of puppy mills.

Jayme grew up in a small town in central Ohio, but she now proudly considers herself a Chicagoan. She lives in downtown Chicago with her husband and two young children. She loves dogs (with a soft spot for West Highland White Terriers and older rescue dogs), California wine country, and traveling with her family where they can spend time outdoors. Most weekends, she and her family enjoy exploring the city, and she is always in search of great vegetarian food or a new local coffee shop.