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Top 1L's, Are You Getting Ready to Transfer?

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Many people move in the summer time, and that includes first-year law students -- especially those who want to move up.

Michael Matta, for example, was attending George Washington University Law School in 2015. But as he was completing his first year, he took a chance and applied for a transfer to UCLA School of Law.

He succeeded, landing in a higher-ranked law school and paying less for tuition. It turned out to be the best move in his legal career, and it was easier than he expected.

"Even if it doesn't end up panning out, it's still totally worth it to try," he told the ABA Journal. "I think a lot of people would really kick themselves in the butt if they knew they could do it and didn't."

Transfers Rising

Breaking through to the other side, more and more 1L's are successfully transferring to better schools. That's because law schools want better students, like Matta.

Although George Washington lost him, it gained 107 transfer students last year. More than half of them came from American University Washington College of Law. Why? Same reason Matta moved up.

American University has plunged in national rankings in recent years, in part because it has not done well with job placements. Students have seen the writing on the wall and looked elsewhere.

It is part of the big picture, which features declining enrollments at law schools nationwide. The schools have responded in various ways, such as lowering admission standards and offering more incentives to attract students.

Transfer Tips

In the battle for enrollments, schools have offered tuition breaks to incoming students and to keep first-year students. But transfer applicants still have to compete for limited openings.

U.S. News & World Report, which ranks law schools annually, offers tips for students seeking to transfer:

  • Do your absolute best to get the best grades possible in your first year
  • Cultivate relationships with your professors for letters of recommendation
  • Participate in at least one law-oriented extracurricular activity

In other words, transfer applications are like regular applications except for one thing: your first-year performance in law school is key.

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