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Transferring Law Schools | Statistics, Personal Statement

Today, we will be helping you to understand the most common reasons you may want to transfer law schools.

We’ll also give you an idea of how to transfer law schools, including some statistics about the process, tips for writing a compelling personal statement, how to apply to transfer law school, and when to apply. Let’s get started!


Deciding to transfer law schools can be a difficult decision and depends heavily on your unique circumstances and what you are looking to get out of law school.

There are many things to consider before sending off your application to transfer schools, including your grades, employment outlooks, and on-campus relationships.

A law school transfer takes place after your 1L year of law school. After you complete your first year at one law school, earn the foundational credits that are comparable among most law schools, and then transfer to a different law school for your remaining 2 years.

It is less common for students to transfer after their second year of law school, as the credits for any year other than your first can be more difficult to transfer accordingly to your new school. However, transfers like this do happen and are possible.

You might desire to transfer because of the desire to attend a higher ranked program, pursue a dream school that you didn’t get accepted into at first, or attend a school closer to the location you want to practice in. Whatever your reason might be, we are here to help out.

Law School Transfer Statistics

According to the most recent transfer admissions statistics, the number of transfer students that law schools in the United States receive annually has been declining somewhat steadily over the past several years.

For example, in 2017, the number of students who transferred law schools successfully was 1,797. See UCLA Law School Acceptance Rate.

This figure represents about 4.8% of the total first-year law enrollment for the previous academic year, which was 37,100 students.

In 2021, however, a considerably smaller number of transfer students — or more specifically, 1,375, according to one source — were able to transfer to a different law school.

This means that out of the 38,500 law students enrolled the year prior, only 3.6% of all 1Ls chose and were able, to transfer schools.

As a result, the concentration of transfer students versus non-transfer students has also been dropping, especially at the top 14 law schools.

In 2020, the ratio of transfer students to others at the 15 most highly-ranked law schools was 50%, falling to only 43% in the following academic year. 

However, as previously noted, there are exceptions to the general trend, one of which is Georgetown University.

The Georgetown University Law Center regularly accepts far more transfer students than any other law school in the country.

On top of that, the school also has a history of accepting students from law schools that rank much lower than Georgetown does. See What You Can Do With Law Degree.

For example, in the 2017-2018 admission cycle, Georgetown admitted 105 transfer students. Of this group of students, 15 came from the American University Washington College of Law — currently ranked 73rd— and five came from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, which is tied for 94th in the law school rankings.

In sum, it can be said that transfer students are a minority at any law school, and especially few-and-far-between at top-ranked law schools.

Regardless, there are exceptions to this general observation, and statistics should not be interpreted as a surefire indicator of your likelihood of transfer admission to a given school.

Law School Transfer Personal Statement

What law school admissions offices are really looking for in a transfer applicant’s personal essay is that the student showcases some key aspects of who they are as an individual, and not just as a student.

While it is certainly important that applicants exhibit a solid, strong understanding of grammar and English language writing skills, it is also vitally important to give the reader a clear look into your personality, values, passions, and ambition to pursue a law degree in service of those things.

As you start drafting your essay, one crucial thing to remember is that there are essential differences between transfer application personal statements and first-year undergraduate application essays, like the one you likely had to submit to get into your current school.

For one, the personal transfer statement should identify and explain the student’s reasons for wanting to transfer.

Law school admissions want to see that you have the potential to be a great student and how that potential is stunted or underutilized at your current institution.

The personal statement should show that the student has done their research about the school to which they are applying, especially with regard to what qualities make the two schools substantially different from each other.

Using details, be specific about whatever it is the school has — courses, extracurriculars, resources, and so on — that leads you to believe that you would reach your full academic potential, be a strong addition to the classroom, and positively contribute to the campus community if accepted to transfer to their school.

Your background research — which is valuable enough already as far as it informs your decision about what school you should transfer to —is essential to the applicant’s ability to make an incisive and compelling case for why they should be accepted as a transfer student, rather than just finishing out their law degree at their current school.

How Do You Apply to Transfer Law Schools?

If you have evaluated each of the considerations above and applied them to your personal situations, and eventually decided that transferring law schools is right for you, you are probably wondering what to do now.

When Do You Apply to Transfer Law Schools?

In most cases, you will need to start looking at completing applications during the second semester of your 1L year, especially if you want to apply early decision (transfer early decision is only available from certain law schools).

Typically, applications will remain open until early summer, and then you will receive notice of acceptance sometime over the summer before your second year of law school is set to begin.


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Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by Admin

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