Archive for General

By the Numbers: Law Schools that Place Graduates in Jobs in the State of Illinois

Find Out Which Law Schools Place Graduates in Illinois Jobs

If you are seeking to go to law school in hopes of working in the Land of Lincoln upon graduation, then this list of the law schools which place the most graduates in paying jobs in Illinois may be a helpful tool as you consider where to apply to or attend law school.  The following is a list of the top law schools for placing graduates in paying jobs in the State of Illinois, although it should be noted that these numbers are based on the total jobs for graduates and do not reflect the number of lawyer positions:

School Name State

USN Rnk

# of Grads Empl. In IL % of Grads Empl. In IL
JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL IL

NR

318

71%

CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW-IIT IL

72

200

71%

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY-CHICAGO IL

68

195

68%

DEPAUL UNIVERSITY IL

121

191

67%

ILLINOIS, UNIVERSITY OF IL

40

138

60%

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY IL

12

104

37%

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY IL

NR

80

68%

CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF IL

4

62

29%

MICHIGAN, UNIVERSITY OF MI

10

61

15%

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY-CARBONDALE IL

NR

55

43%

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MO

18

37

12%

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY MO

93

34

11%

INDIANA UNIVERSITY – BLOOMINGTON IN

29

33

15%

THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL MI

NR

31

3%

NOTRE DAME, UNIVERSITY OF IN

26

29

16%

VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY IN

NR

24

15%

IOWA, UNIVERSITY OF IA

27

21

11%

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY MI

87

21

7%

WISCONSIN, UNIVERSITY OF WI

31

18

7%

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY WI

93

15

6%

DAYTON, UNIVERSITY OF OH

NR

9

6%

MIAMI, UNIVERSITY OF FL

61

8

2%

INDIANA UNIVERSITY – INDIANAPOLIS IN

87

6

2%

CINCINNATI, UNIVERSITY OF OH

79

6

4%

MISSOURI, UNIVERSITY OF MO

64

5

4%

DENVER, UNIVERSITY OF CO

68

5

2%

AVE MARIA SCHOOL OF LAW FL

NR

5

3%

 

Since the more highly ranked law schools typically place a higher percentage of graduates in lawyer positions, this post includes the applicable 2015 US News law school ranking for each law school. The employment data is based on the ABA data reported by each law school and so this information is subject to the same limitations as the underlying ABA employment data.

The Top Law Schools for Placing Students in Jobs in the District of Columbia

Ranking of Law Schools Placing Students in the District of Columbia

If you are considering going to law school and Washington D.C. is your preferred destination for a job placement after graduation, then this list of graduates from 2013 who were employed in the District of Columbia broken down by law school may be helpful as you consider where to attend.  Law schools that place more students in a particular market will have a leg up on other law schools in terms of the alumni base and connections within that market and their respective offices of career services will likely allocate more resources to recruiting in the region.

There are a couple of important factors to note that should be understood when considering this particular ranking. First, both George Washington and Georgetown have a significant number of law school funded positions that are included in these numbers. George Washington has 89 law school funded positions and Georgetown employed 83 graduates in law school funded positions. Law school funded positions are typically jobs where law students who are unable to find employment following graduation are paid to do legal work in the law school’s clinics, which are generally free legal clinics for the underprivileged. There is a significant debate about whether these positions are a good way for law schools to provide practical training to new graduates or merely a cost effective mechanism for manipulating the rankings.

Another factor to consider when viewing this ranking is that the numbers provided by the ABA do not break down the type of position by state or district, and so these jobs include all types of jobs by graduates as opposed to just lawyer positions. Higher ranked law schools typically place more students in attorney positions and so the 2015 U.S. News ranking for each school is provided in this list.

 

Law School Name Law School State

USN Rnk

# of Grads Empl in DC % of Grads Empl in DC
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY DC

20

263

44%

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY DC

13

238

37%

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY DC

72

169

33%

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA DC

107

88

37%

VIRGINIA, UNIVERSITY OF VA

8

67

18%

HARVARD UNIVERSITY MA

2

65

11%

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY VA

46

62

24%

HOWARD UNIVERSITY DC

135

43

31%

YALE UNIVERSITY CT

1

39

19%

PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF PA

7

37

14%

MARYLAND, UNIVERSITY OF MD

46

35

12%

DUKE UNIVERSITY NC

10

34

14%

WILLIAM AND MARY LAW SCHOOL VA

24

29

13%

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY NY

4

28

6%

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DC

NR

27

34%

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY NY

6

26

5%

CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, UNIVERSITY OF CA

9

21

7%

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY TN

16

18

9%

BALTIMORE, UNIVERSITY OF MD

135

17

5%

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY NY

107

13

6%

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY OH

64

13

6%

CORNELL UNIVERSITY NY

13

13

7%

NORTH CAROLINA, UNIVERSITY OF NC

31

12

5%

INDIANA UNIVERSITY – BLOOMINGTON IN

29

11

5%

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY MO

93

10

3%

VERMONT LAW SCHOOL VT

129

10

5%

RICHMOND, UNIVERSITY OF VA

51

9

6%

WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY NC

31

9

6%

WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY VA

43

9

6%

PITTSBURGH, UNIVERSITY OF PA

81

8

3%

CALIFORNIA-LOS ANGELES, UNIVERSITY OF CA

16

8

2%

CALIFORNIA-HASTINGS, UNIVERSITY OF CA

54

7

2%

HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY NY

135

7

2%

GEORGIA, UNIVERSITY OF GA

29

6

3%

NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY OF NH

93

6

6%

SETON HALL UNIVERSITY NJ

68

6

2%

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, UNIVERSITY OF CA

20

5

2%

WASHINGTON, UNIVERSITY OF WA

24

5

3%

 

Lastly, these rankings are subject to all of the same limitations as the ABA numbers upon which they are based, including the fact that these are based on law school provided data. Also, this list only includes law schools that placed 5 or more students in jobs in Washington D.C.

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education – Part 4: Broader Delivery of Legal and Related Services

ABA Logo

The ABA task force took an expansive view of legal needs across all of society in making the recommendation that there should be a broader delivery of legal services that goes beyond the services provided by just J.D.-trained individuals.[1]  The view is that certain areas of the law are sufficiently rudimentary that law school graduates cannot provide the services in a cost-effective way and that many of these same services could easily be provided by individuals without J.D. degrees and the public would be better served.  This would require changes to the rules and regulations that currently impose stiff penalties for the unauthorized practice of law in most jurisdictions.

The concept is not without precedent as there is significant cross-over in practice areas among tax practitioners that are CPAs, Enrolled Agents and attorneys.  Attorneys often fulfill partner roles in accounting firms in the area of taxation and, while CPAs are not able to practice as attorneys before courts, CPAs often engage in legal research of tax topics and represent clients before the IRS during audits and administrative appeals. A J.D. is not required to represent a client before the IRS in out of court proceedings and, in fact, a non-J.D. can even represent clients before the Tax Court so long as they pass a test on the procedure of the court.[2]  Similarly, realtors in many jurisdictions advise their clients as to the terms of real estate contracts in a manner that is indistinguishable from a contract lawyer counseling a legal client on the same issues.

There are also models for this from other legal cultures. In Japan, for instance, there are a lot fewer lawyers as lay persons are able to practice transactional law as barristers only have exclusive rights to litigation.[3]  A similar model could be expanded in the U.S. for transactional law by teaching contract law in business schools or as a supplement to paralegal training and loosening the restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law in these subject areas. That said, it is unclear how doing so would improve legal education in the United States as such an expansion would erode what is already a historically poor market for legal services and new lawyers.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. This is the last of a four-part series of articles on this blog considering the ABA Task force’s recommendations for the future of legal education. See Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School, Part 2: Accreditation & Innovation, and Part 3: Skills and Competencies.
  2. See Tax Court Rules, Title XX, Practice Before the Court, Rule 200(a)(3).  
  3. See The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture, p.280, edited by Sandra Buckley (Routledge, 2002).

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education – Part 3: Skills and Competencies

The ABA task force appointed to make recommendations on the future of legal education made several recommendations regarding the quality of legal education as to providing skills and competencies for law students. Today’s topic discusses the task force’s analysis of the job law schools are doing in providing legal skills and competencies to law students.[1] The task force’s recently-released report and recommendations[2] identified significant gaps in the knowledge base of law graduates.

ABA LogoThis is an interesting topic as it is probably the most glaring and obvious weakness in law school education today.  It comes as a surprise to most people that a legal education does not actually prepare law students with the necessary skills to practice law.  Rather, legal education tends to be largely dedicated to policy, a theoretical understanding of the underlying legal principals, and a study of the history of the law.  Apart from first year writing courses, which tend to be heavily focused on appellate practice, law schools do not typically require any skills courses for law students to graduate.

There have been some encouraging recent trends in regards to increasing skills-based courses and utilizing the problem method rather than the Socratic method of instruction, but these policy changes can only go so far to change such a deep seeded issue with legal education.  The plain reality is that law schools are not staffed with professors that have significant practical experience as attorneys to teach skills-based curriculum.  In fact, it has been asserted by many that there is a considerable bias in law school hiring against experienced practitioners.[3]

Therefore, the recommendation for law schools to teach more skills-based courses is not a challenge that the current professorship model is even capable of meeting and, absent a change in the hiring process for most law schools, this is a problem that is unlikely to be resolved even over time.  Law school hiring for tenure track positions is typically a democratic process with significant input by the current professorship[4] and so even efforts by law deans to steer the hiring decisions will make little difference and law schools will continue to hire new professors that look an awful lot like younger versions of their current professors.  If law schools are going to take this recommendation to heart then they will either have to drastically change their hiring practices, which is unlikely, or they will have to utilize adjunct faculty to fill out more of their curricular needs.  Given the significant financial pressure on law school budgets and the incredible bargain law schools receive by hiring adjunct faculty, I would anticipate law schools going with the latter option and filling course needs with tenured and existing faculty.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. This article is the third of a four-part series considering the ABA Task force’s recommendations for the future of legal education. See Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School and Part 2: Accreditation & Innovation.  
  2. See Generally Report and Recommendations, Task Force On the Future of Legal Education (American Bar Association, January, 2014) 
  3. See At law schools, age bias co-exists with outdated practices, by Nicholas J. Spaeth, Esq.  
  4. Id.

Top 16 Law Schools for Producing Government Attorneys

The George’s are the big winners in the government placement contest, combining to place over 200 attorneys from the class of 2012 in government positions.

The following are the top 16 law schools for placing students in government positions upon graduation based on the employment data from the class of 2012. I have also included the state where the school is located and the percentage of the law school class working in government positions.[1]

Placement in Government Positions by Law School (2012 Grads)

LAW SCHOOL NAME State Where Law School is Located Grads in Government Positions % of Class in Government Positions
#1 GEORGE WASHINGTON DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 118 21%
#2 GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 93 15%
#3 THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW MICHIGAN 86 8%
#4 FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY FLORIDA 65 23%
#5 AMERICAN UNIVERSITY DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 64 14%
#6 UNIVERSITY OF DENVER COLORADO 62 20%
#7 JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL ILLINOIS 62 15%
#8 UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI FLORIDA 60 13%
#9 STETSON UNIVERSITY FLORIDA 59 17%
#10 FLORIDA COASTAL FLORIDA 58 11%
#11 MCGEORGE SCHOOL OF LAW (PACIFIC) CALIFORNIA 58 19%
#12 FORDHAM UNIVERSITY NEW YORK 53 11%
#13 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY MASSACHUSETTS 53 10%
#14 CALIFORNIA-HASTINGS, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 52 12%
#15 INDIANA UNIVERSITY – INDIANAPOLIS INDIANA 51 17%
#16 WILLIAM AND MARY LAW VIRGINIA 48 24%

Clearly schools in the District of Columbia have a significant advantage for these positions and, not surprisingly, D.C. law schools occupy three of the top five spots on the list, including the top two. If your goal is to become a government attorney, then Georgetown and George Washington are great law schools to attend.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Based on data reported by the law schools to the ABA.

The ABA Task Force Recommendations on the Future of Legal Education – Part 2: Accreditation & Innovation

ABA Logo

The report and recommendations of the American Bar Association’s task force on the future of Legal Education[1]  made several key conclusions regarding how law schools need to adapt to better serve law students, the legal community, and the general public.[2]

The second and third key conclusions were in regards to the accreditation standards of the ABA and how the standards stunt innovation.  More specifically, the report concluded that the rigid system of accreditation is neither sufficiently flexible to account for the various diverse needs of the students of different ABA member schools nor does it promote a system that is cost effective.[3] The task force recommended that the ABA accreditation standards be modified  to enable “more heterogeneity” and encourage “more attention to service, outcomes, and value delivered to law students.” More specifically, the task force recommends either repealing or dramatically changing the accreditation standards.

The report later notes that the ABA standards tend to increase the quality of legal education without regard to how the benefit of such increases correlate with the costs.[4]  This appears to be a fairly convoluted way of saying that the trend of utilizing law professors to produce more scholarship and teach amorphous policy-based courses, as opposed to skills courses, is a great way to increase the quality of legal education, but it also increases the cost to law students without providing equivalent value in return.  This is a pretty subjective conclusion as it pitches hard data of increasing legal education costs against the value of legal education measured in non-economic terms.  If such value were determined using hard financial data, like the average real increases in law graduate salaries compared to the increased costs of education, then I am confident there would be empirical findings to support, or disprove, this conclusion.

In terms of innovation, the report correctly concludes that the ABA standards prevent law schools for experimenting with different types of legal education.  Indeed, law schools face significant restrictions on the types of educational delivery systems that may be employed, decisions of curricular priorities, and specialty areas.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. See Generally, Report and Recommendations, Task Force On the Future of Legal Education (American Bar Association, January, 2014)
  2. This is the second part of a series of posts addressing the key findings of the ABA task force. See the initial post at The ABA Task Force Recommendations on the Future of Legal Education – Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School or later posts as they become available on this lawblog
  3. See Report and Recommendations, Task Force On the Future of Legal Education (American Bar Association, January, 2014) at p.2.
  4. Id at 23-24.

The ABA Task Force Recommendations on the Future of Legal Education – Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School

ABA Logo

The American Bar Association’s task force on the future of Legal Education recently released its final report and recommendations. [1]  It appears the findings and recommendations failed to receive the blessing of the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors at the ABA as the report begins with a significant disclaimer stating that the views in the report “should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.”[2]  This post is the first in a four-part series[3] addressing the various assessments and recommendations of the task force and what the recommendations might mean to various persons with interests in legal education. Today’s topic is the pricing and funding mechanisms for law school.

Pricing and Funding of Law School

The task force found that law schools are increasingly listing nominal tuition rates and then seeking top students using a scholarship system.  Many of these internal scholarships, however, are not like most scholarships in the traditional sense where a third party pays the actual cost of tuition to the school on behalf of the scholarship recipient.  A traditional scholarship places the school on equivalent financial footing between scholarship students and non-scholarship students.  Rather, these internal scholarships are really just tuition price reductions for the top incoming students, which actually make some sense as the higher GPA and LSAT scores by these incoming students increases the ranking and prestige of the law school.

This system presents a couple of significant problems.  First, the law schools have to make up the cost of these scholarships and typically do so by charging non-scholarship students more in tuition.  Also, most of the non-scholarship students are financing their legal education with debt from federal loans which are extremely easy to obtain in amounts up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.[4]  So the students with the lowest likelihood of success in law school, meaning students with the weakest incoming predictors like LSAT and GPA, who are also the least likely to benefit from their legal education in monetary terms are the very same students who are paying the most.

The task force also points out that this system for funding law schools “tends to impede the growth of diversity in legal education and in the profession.”[5]  The report makes little mention of diversity either generally or in its more detailed findings and, frankly, I am surprised this statement made it into the report at all without some kind of empirical support.  We are left to speculate as to how the funding mechanism for law schools affects diverse individuals in the legal field any differently than non-diverse individuals.

As interest rates have risen significantly over the last five years, something which is likely correlated to increased unemployment and default rates, the true cost of a law school education over the life of each law student has increased dramatically. One issue that has gotten a great deal of press lately is the fact that student loans are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.  This is a factor that is certainly contributing to declining applications and enrollments for law schools as the financial considerations for engaging in legal studies have pushed many of the brightest students into other career paths.  If a change in ABA policy is able to move law schools to either curtail the cost of law school or develop revenue sources outside the current federal student loan regime then this would certainly improve the economic prospects for students considering law school.  While other funding mechanisms might be available over time, the ABA can immediately implement policies that encourage fiscal responsibility and reduced costs.

This Week’s Roundup of Supreme Court Decisions

The United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. - Photo by John S. Treu

Washington D.C. – Heroin as a basis for penalty enhancements in a drug-related death, timekeeping for steel workers, and who bears the burden of proof in a declaratory judgment proceeding for a patent were a few of the topics addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court this last week.[1] The following is a summary of the holdings in each case:

January 23, 2014

In Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC,[2] the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the federal circuit court by ruling unanimously that a patent holder bears the burden of proving infringement, even in lawsuits brought by a licensee seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement against the patent holder.

January 27, 2014

In Burrage v. United States,[3] the U.S. Supreme Court Held that a defendant cannot be held liable for penalty enhancement under 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(b)(1)(C) based on drug distribution unless such drug is the but-for cause of the victim’s death.  The evidence presented at trial indicated that the death may have occurred even without the use of heroin and the trial judge ruled that the Government only had to prove that the heroin was a contributing cause of death.  The judgment was unanimous and Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for the majority, subject to minor concurrences by Justices Alito, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

In Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.,[4] the U.S. Supreme Court held that time spent by steel workers putting on protective gear was not compensable under 29 U.S.C. Sec. 203(o) absent a collective bargaining agreement providing for such compensation. Justice Scalia delivered a unanimous opinion of the court, except as to fn. 7 which was not joined by Justice Sotomayor.

In Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper,[5] the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Aviation and Transportation Security Act immunity pursuant to 49 U.S.C. Sec. 44941(a) for airline employees reporting suspicious activity may not be denied to materially true statements as the immunity is patterned after the actual malice standards of New York Times Co. V. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, which requires material falsity. Having found that ATSA immunity applies, the Court held against the Pilot’s defamation suit.

Visiting vs. Transferring Law Schools

Law School Weekly News

Even though visiting another law school and transferring to another law school may have a number of practical similarities, the two processes are very different both in terms of the time it takes to complete the application process and in regards to how it affects your resume and job prospects. As a transfer student you will be a graduate of the new law school and you will generally be treated as if you were always a student there. On the other hand, as a visitor you will merely be an interloper at the visiting law school. You can only transfer before the fall semester of your second year due to the 30 hour limitation on transfer credit and transfer applications are typically due by June or July. So if you have already started your second year of law school then you are not a candidate to transfer and graduate elsewhere, but you may be able to take up to a year of school as a visitor.

Visiting In Law School

If you visit another law school, even if for your last semester or your entire third year, then you will still graduate from your original law school.  The specific arrangements vary from school to school, but the credits you earn at the institution you are visiting will be added to your law school transcript as transfer credits applicable towards graduation.  Since most schools limit such credit to a maximum of 30 hours or so, your maximum visit time is for one academic year.  A visiting semester or year at a particular law school is unlikely to have a positive impact on your resume other than showing an interest in a particular geographic area.  Visiting is usually done as a matter of convenience, such as if your spouse has a job in a different state.  Visiting law students will not receive a degree from the school they are visiting and won’t have full access to that school’s career services and even may get the last pick of course offerings.  Law schools are generally happy to oblige with admitting visiting students as it merely adds to their bottom line with little impact on their resources or the experience of their students.  The visiting application process is fairly menial and is more of a simple administrative process than law school or transfer applications, although a personal statement indicating the reasons you are seeking to visit is required.  That said, timing can still be critical so if you want to visit another school you should look into the process in advance to make sure you have all the documentation in place ahead of the relevant deadlines.

Transferring In Law School

On the other hand, if you are transferring law schools, it is a major undertaking with a significant impact on your life and career. Transferring to a different law school requires an application that is similar to, although not as extensive as, your initial law school application.[1] When you transfer to a new law school you will receive your degree from that school and you won’t even be required to mention your first-year school on most job applications. You will also count in the transfer law school’s employment numbers and you will be an alumnus of their institution for the rest of your life. So law schools are very careful in considering transfer applications and you should set aside a significant amount of time to put together your applications if you decide you want to transfer law schools.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. See 3 Things to Know for Law School Transfer Applications.

5 Things to Consider Before Deciding to Transfer Law Schools

Tax Litigation Appeals are brought in the applicable Federal Appellate Court or the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Many law students who were not successful getting into their first choice law school will consider whether they are a good candidate to apply as a transfer student after their first semester grades come out.[1]  But the decision to transfer to a law school is unique from the initial decision of whether to go to that same law school as a 1L.  In fact, in certain circumstances you may be worse off by transferring to a more prestigious law school after your first year.  This article sets out five factors to consider when deciding whether to transfer law schools and provides advice for mitigating some of the negative factors that can impact you if you decide to transfer.

1) Your Ability to Network Will Be Affected

Your 1L year is a singular and unique experience where you likely developed a bond with many of the members of your first-year class who made it through the same trial by fire.[2]  You will always have a commonality with the members of your 1L class that gives you a networking advantage both during your last two years of law school and, more importantly, throughout your law career.  Starting at a new law school as a 2L or a visitor means that you will be an outsider and you will be viewed differently by your peers than students who completed all three years at the same law school.

This can be overcome, but you should recognize that transferring means you will need to put a lot more time and effort into networking than you did to connect with your 1L classmates.  The one exception to this will be connecting with other transfer students, which will come quite natural to you for the same reasons connecting with other 1Ls is natural, but you should make it a goal to assimilate as much as possible with non-transfer students since it is a much larger networking pool. With a little extra effort you can turn this negative into a positive where you have connections at both your 1L law school and your transfer school, but it will take more effort and time.

2) You May Be Precluded From Law Reviews and Moot Court Teams

Law Schools have come a long way to improve the life of their transfer students by offering better opportunities for journal participation and competition teams.  As a transfer student who was very highly ranked in my 1L class, I would have been a virtual lock for Law Review membership at my 1L law school, but I was precluded from Law Review participation at my transfer school during my 2L year as the Law Review membership had already been set before I was even admitted.  I was still able to write on for my third year as a senior staff member, editor positions were not an option.[3]

Not all schools preclude transfers from Law Review positions for the 2L years, but some have very interesting methods for earning such a position. Take Columbia, for instance, which allows transfer applicants to participate in its law review competition which is held several weeks before the school even makes its decision as to transfer admissions.[4]  It takes a special type of personality to be motivated for a law review competition under any circumstances, but I really want to meet the person that is willing to subject themselves to a law review competition at a law school where they haven’t even been admitted.[5]

3) On Campus Interviews

All schools have different timelines for on-campus interviews with potential employers, but OCIs tend to occur during the Fall of your 2L year.  As a transfer student this means you will be putting your resume with grades from your 1L law school up against your peers with their grades at the likely more difficult transfer law school. This is a mixed bag as you likely have a better ranking at a less difficult law school that will get you past the “top-20% only” restrictions in the application process, but employers will know this and your grades will be less impressive to them than the grades of your peers.  If you want employers who are looking for individuals who scored in the top 10-20% of your 1L law school, they will be interviewing at your 1L law school.  Again, this is not an insurmountable hurdle, but it is something you should be aware of when considering a transfer.

4) All Law School Applications Take Time and Energy…Even Transfer Apps.

I covered the law school transfer application process in more detail in another article,[6] but it will represent a relatively significant investment of your time and resources.  The transfer application process is a lot easier to complete than you initial law school application, but it will involve getting letters of recommendation from your current law professors and so it would be unwise to put it off until just before the deadlines. There are significant demands on your time in law school and so adding even a relatively manageable application process can take a lot out of you.

5) Credit and Course Transfer Limitations

Similar to undergraduate programs, Law schools will generally only transfer a certain number of credits, typically 30 credits is the maximum.[7]  If you took a large credit load during your 1L year or you did an externship at your 1L law school during the summer, or both, then you may end up losing a few credits by virtue of your transfer.  Also, variance in the 1L curriculum of your 1L law school as opposed to your transfer school means you may have more required courses than non-transfer 2Ls including re-taking certain courses.  For most students, these factors are only a minor inconvenience that can be overcome fairly easily, but this factor could be more of an issue if you were planning on early graduation as that may not be attainable with a loss of credits or due to variance in your required course load.

Conclusion

This article focused on some of the factors that may impact you as a law school transfer student in comparison to completing your degree at the law school where you attend as a 1L.  Unfortunately, most of the factors cut against transferring. For that reason, it is generally inadvisable to transfer law schools unless there is a fairly substantial difference between the transfer law school and the law school where you began your legal education. Although, you should take the time to research the specific school you are considering based on the factors above to see if that school has implemented policies that are more favorable to transfer students than what is generally the case.

Feel free to ask us a question in the comments section below if you are considering making the jump to a new law school after your first year.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. All ABA-approved law schools require that you complete 2 years of course credit at their respective schools, and so a transfer occurs after the first year, while a visiting year occurs after the second year.
  2. I use the word “bond” rather than friendship because what I am describing applies even if you did not like a single fellow law student.
  3. I was one of the fortunate ones to be able to write on as I believe there were about twenty five to thirty submissions for only two spots. Relying on the write-on competition for your third year is certainly a gamble and writing a note or comment will represent a significant investment of time that you may not otherwise receive any credit for.
  4. See Columbia’s Journal Policies for Transfer Students.  
  5. Columbia typically admits 35-60 transfer students out of approximately 400 applications. http://web.law.columbia.edu/admissions/jd/apply/transfer-student
  6. See 3 Things to Know for Law School Transfer Applications.
  7. See e.g., USC’s law school transfer policies.