Considerations For Why You Should Not Transfer

Nov. Art. 2: Considerations For Why You Should Not TransferPlease welcome back Jaclyn Wishnia, 2L guest writer from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She discusses some counter points to transferring law schools.

Before starting the transfer process, the very first thing you should do is ask yourself, why do I want to transfer? The reasons you provide to that question will help you determine whether transferring law schools is the best solution. Sometimes external factors, such as being closer to a sick family member or a spouse’s job location transfer, will affect your decision. In those cases, transferring law schools may be completely appropriate. Other times, however, law students will base their decision to transfer on arbitrary reasons, such as 1L fall semester grades or to switch to a slightly higher ranked law school. If your reasons fall under the latter category, then consider the following arguments prior to submitting any finalized transfer applications.

There’s Work Involved

Recall the first time you applied to law school. Concentrate on all of the steps that were involved. There were applications to fill-out, dean certificates to collect, requests for reference letters from various sources, personal statements to write, transcript retrievals, and numerous fees to pay. Think about how much time and effort it took to complete that process, especially if you applied to multiple law schools. Now imagine having to experience that process again. Although you will not have to re-take the LSAT, you will have to repeat those steps while simultaneously balancing the pressures of performing well at your current law school. Focus on whether it is truly worth expending more of your time, effort, and additional funds to make this move. It is also important to note that some law schools require a hefty transfer fee.

You’ve Built a Network

Law school is only three years. When you transfer, you risk losing the relationships you cultivated during the most critical period of your law school experience. The first semester of 1L binds you to your peers due to its harrowing circumstances and the overall nature of how people interact with one another under extreme duress. Come 2L, most law students have discovered how to navigate law school and no longer cling as hard to their colleagues or study groups, as different class schedules and internships take precedent. By transferring, not only will you need to make new friends and find another study group, but you also relinquish any network connections you have established with professors and the administration.

Additionally, remaining at your current law school means that you already know what to expect, including how your administration operates, graduation requirements, which professors to stay clear of, and the general personality of your student body. Law school is hard enough as it is, but having to readjust to a new environment creates unnecessary complications that could be avoided by staying put. Also, keep in mind that if you transfer at the end of your 1L year, you may not have the same opportunities to participate in similar organizations or write for journals that you previously belonged to at your original law school.

Where to Transfer

If the reasons thus far have failed to convince you not to transfer, then tailor your law school selections as prudently as possible. For one, do not transfer to a lateral law school. This means if both your law school and the law school you want to transfer to are ranked in the same tier, even if it is ranked ten degrees higher, I strongly recommend you reevaluate your choices. The difference between a law school ranked at 65 compared to 55 is negligible. You are better off continuing to excel at your current school and graduating in the top percentile there than gambling on a blind prospect that you will maintain your academic standing at the next school.

Why Are you transferring?

Second, know exactly why you want to transfer. This question will arise not only on transfer applications, but also during interviews. As expected, the concept of a uniform resume applies both to when employers review job history as well as to educational institutions. Unless the candidate offers a substantial reason, a change in law schools could signal red flags to an employer, such as instability or poor social skills. While neither of these things may hold true, it will cross their mind, so be well prepared with a sharp explanation.

Lastly, transfer for the right reasons. As aforementioned, one rationale that is typically justified involves familial conditions. Other supporting factors may consist of: financial hardship; geographical preference for where you want to practice law; a specific type of law or program only that particular law school offers; and of course, if the law school you decide to transfer to is an Ivy League.

Ultimately, you are the only person who can and should make the decision because it will affect your future. Barring one of the major exceptions, I personally advise against transferring, but you might have your own set of personal beliefs that surpass practicalities. If you truly are unsure and need further advice, conduct some research on transferring law schools in general, either online or by asking around for personal connections to people with experience. Spend time learning about your law school’s transfer process as well as the transfer schools’ you are considering. Also, if possible, visit those law schools to see whether you can envision yourself graduating from any of them and, if so, ask yourself how that makes you feel. Again, the choice is yours, so choose wisely.


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About Jaclyn Wishnia

Jaclyn Wishnia graduated from Fordham University with a double major in Journalism and the Classics. Upon graduation, she accepted a role as a paralegal. After several years of working for both criminal and entertainment law firms, she decided to pursue her passion, to become an attorney, and enrolled in law school. She is currently a 2L at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law located in New York, NY. Additionally, she serves as a staff editor for Cardozo's Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Treasurer of Cardozo's Entertainment Law Society, and is a student liaison for the NYS Bar EASL committee.


  1. If you are not at a T13, the schools right below those, or a top regional school (like BU, BC, Fordham, etc) and you have the opportunity to transfer to one of those schools, it is malpractice to not transfer. You are at law school to get a job as a lawyer and pay off the massive debt you likely took out to pay for law school. Schools besides the ones mentioned above have mediocre to poor job prospects. Further, schools besides the above mentioned are generally looked down upon- the legal community places heavy weight on the prestige of your degree. You’ll make new friends. Fill out the applications. Find a new study group. No law firm will ever look down on you for upgrading schools- many large firms do not even consider lower ranked schools. If anything, you will be commended for making the smart decision. You do not want to graduate and have to work for $50-60k a year when you have 6 figures of debt. Transfer to a good school if you can.

    • Elizabeth Greiner says

      Thanks for your comment. The author does not say you should not transfer if you have an opportunity for a much better school. She just provides some factors to consider when making the decision to transfer or not. We always encourage everyone to do what is best for them, and there is usually not one answer for everyone.

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