The Decision to Transfer
Some of you will perform well enough academically in your first year of law school to open the door to a possible transfer. To establish a starting point for your choice as to whether to transfer, click here to read this guide.
The total number of applicants nationwide decreased by about 40% from 2010 to 2015, forcing law schools to reduce first year matriculants to keep LSAT and GPA standards high. To make up for some of the drop in first-year student enrollment, some law schools dramatically increased the number of transfer students accepted. In 2016, 32 law schools enrolled 15 or more transfers students. However, that number does not seem to be decreasing much in response to the recent increase in regular (non-transfer) applicants. In 2020, 30 law schools admitted 15 or more transfer applicants. The 2020 transfer admits turned out as follows.
Case Study: Texas Law matriculated 25 transfer students in 2016, up from just 6 in 2011. Texas law admitted 8 transfer applicants in 2020 and 7 in 2021. So, Texas Law, unlike many other law schools has returned to its old habit of not admitting very many transfers. While 8 is not a really small number given the very small transfer applicant pool, it does represent a significant decrease from recent practice. The 15 transfer students who matriculated at Texas Law in 2020 and 2021 transferred from the following law schools.
- UH Law Center – 4
- South Texas College of Law – 4
- Texas Tech Law – 2
- Emory Law – 1
- Loyola Law (NO) – 1
- Minnesota Law – 1
- OU Law – 1
- University of Washington Law – 1
Finding the Data. The transfer data for all ABA approved law schools is here. One can access this data in aggregate by using the clicking on the link and using the lower dialogue box – the one that starts with “Compilation.” One can access the individual law school data – the data that shows where transfer came from – by using the upper dialogue box to download the 509 report for each law school. The transfer data will appear at the bottom of each 509 report. See UT Law 2020 509 report here and the 2021 509 report here. Scroll to the bottom to see transfer data. One these individual forms, law
Most law schools take transfer applications from students who are in or have just completed the student’s second semester of law school. The transfer application process is much like the original law school application process. However, admissions officers typically make admit or deny decisions much more quickly for transfer applicants than for regular applicants. One enormous difference is that the applicant’s undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores do not affect the ranking of the law school that accepts the applicant as a transfer student, so those factors mean very little in the transfer admissions decision. Your first year of law school grades mean a lot.