August 2, 2017

15 Things to do After Deciding to Transfer Law Schools

Y'all... so at the beginning of last semester I had a reader reach out to me on advice about transferring law schools. And then this past week she emailed me a thank you because she got accepted into her new school! Literally I was probably as much if not more excited for her to be transferring! So I sent her back an email of things she needed to do ASAP, and realized that this is some good information to share so violà here is a post for any of you transfers out there.

Related: 6 steps to transferring law schools and What to expect as a transfer student

1. Let your current landlord know you're leaving 

Most require 30 days notice before you move out. Cancel your cable and utilities if those aren't handled by your landlord. Also set up mail forwarding so you don't miss any mail (FYI some government information won't forward).

2. Tell your current school that you are transferring 

Even if you told them you were considering transferring, let them know for sure. In my case, this was easiest done in person. Make sure the registrar drops you from your classes and make sure student business services knows not to charge you. Also send an email to your Westlaw and Lexis representatives so you can switch those accounts over to your new school. Texas people— if you're going from one Texas school to another, let the Bar know that the information on your Dec has changed or if you're transferring in to Texas, you'll need to file your Dec ASAP. 

Related: What you need to know about the Declaration of Intent to Study Law

3. Email your new school's registrar 

Most of your classes will transfer but that doesn't mean that you'll necessarily have all of the required courses (ex. my old school required 2 hours of legal writing, my new school required 6 hours of "legal practice" which was writing and experience work). Ask about spring classes (my new school registers fall and spring at once). Also check rate my professor to make sure you're not signing up for misery.

4. Find housing 

The worst part about transferring is that usually by now all of the good student housing is already filling up if not full. Get on it ASAP. Try because it's literally like Tinder for apartments haha. Go in and change your address on your student loan information so that you make sure you're not missing any information.

Related: Apartment hunting tips

5. Contact financial aid

Make sure that you contact your new financial aid advisor and don't forget to go in and change any of your information on any loans that you've already filled out so that your new school will get paid. And it's a slim chance, but you might as well see about any 2L or transfer scholarships that you might qualify for jusssst in case. 

Related: How to find law school scholarships

6. Contact career services 

Fall on campus interviews (OCIs) with law firms are starting to sign up now. Warning, you might be a little late to the game but go ahead and contact your career advisor to make sure you catch up. Your 2L summer job could depend on this so get on it now. 

7. Get a parking pass

The worst part about transferring is that you're right back at the bottom of the totem pole with the 1Ls. That means if your school has limited spots and you forget to get on the waitlist until October (*cough* guilty), you'll be walking allll the way from the next parking lot over for your first year. 

8. Find out all that your school has to offer

You want to be a pubic defender? Go to Facebook and search for School Law Criminal Society/Organization/whatever. Find out when their first meeting is and befriend everyone who will be in your classes. Not only that, but find out what journals/clinics/dual degrees/programs that your new school has to offer and find out how to get on board. You gots some catching up to do.

9. Explore your new city

Find out how far it takes you to get to class. Find the best study spot. Find your new go-to late night food fix. Don't let yourself feel like an outsider for too long! And don't forget to find the fun stuff like the best bars and apartments with the best pools. Eventually you'll earn a break and this will come in handy. 

10. Make sure you go to orientation

Trust me, I've been there and it can be really annoying to sit through a mock class full of your neighbors whispering I heard property is the hardest, No I heard torts is trickier while you're doing a big eye roll. But go to orientation. You'll hear some information that you already know (what? lawyers have a tendency to drink too much? no way??) but you'll also learn very important stuff like where's the bathroom on the second floor (update: a year later and I still haven't found it), what time does the library close, how do you navigate the schools website? Tough it out, impress everyone when you actually know what the rule is, and awkwardly let people know that you're definitely not in their section.

11. Tour your campus

I moved back to my undergrad so I knew a secret that most law students who weren't here before knew— my school had some amazing food with twice as many choices at this one dorm's dining hall. I actually had to explain to my fellow transfer students when they were like omg where did you find Fazolis so fast?? Take a day before class starts and walk around like you're a freshman (honestly you'll probably be confused as one, it's okay) and wander through buildings and find hidden gems.

12. Sign up for dining bucks

Speaking of food, it might not be the worst idea to go ahead and get dining bucks. Sometimes you're on campus so you might as well have free (well, kinda) food while you're stuck there. And at least for my school, you get a discount for having dining bucks so I save 5% off my poptarts fruit smoothies. See how much it will be to get the minimum commuter plan and if the money rolls over between semesters and years.

13. Meet some current students

No offense but avoid the 1Ls. They won't know what professors to take for what or what journals are the best. Find someone who's at least a 2L (tho 3L's are even better) and ask them to catch you up on all that you need to know. It can be humbling, but if you can't find anyone, go ask your school if there's any mentors or upperclassmen that they could set you up with so you at least have one person to ask all the 20 questions you're about to have in the next week.

14. Prepare for the "why did you transfer??" question

I got that a lot my first year. I always just spun it positively because my new school was a higher rank/cheaper/closer to my family (all true, tbh). You don't want to ever bash your old school because you never know whose family went to your old school or who wanted to go to your old school but couldn't get in. Just keep a positive tone to err on the right side.

15. Drop by office hours

You're new and you got a lot of catching up to do. When it comes to rec letters for jobs, scholarships, or programs, it can be really hard as a transfer to find someone since you're a new face in the crowd. Even if it's just to introduce yourself as a transfer student and ask for advice, go meet your professors.

15 things to do right now as a law school transfer student so you're ready for the new year at your new school |


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