T25 to Berkeley/Stanford

A forum for those current students who are or may be transferring from one school to another. Post any questions, advice, or other transfer related comments here.
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:55 am

T25 to Berkeley/Stanford

Postby prettybirdy » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:30 am

I'm currently at a school in the 20-25 range. After fall semester, I have a 4.0 and top grades in 3 out of 4 classes. It's unclear what my exact class rank is. I have a small-ish scholarship. I'm not sure if I'm committed to pursuing clerkships/academia, but it's something I've always been interested in.

I'm planning on applying to transfer only to Berkeley and Stanford, since I don't particularly want to be anywhere else geographically. I was in the Bay Area for several years prior to law school, and I'd like to return. I have some personal reasons for wanting to be there asap, but nothing too compelling.

Is it worth it to transfer to either of them? I know I'm assuming a lot in asking that (getting in, for example) but...oh well. I'm worried about losing my connections at my current school, and not sure if the benefits would outweigh. Opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! <3

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Re: T25 to Berkeley/Stanford

Postby Journeybound » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:15 am

Stanford accepts something like 12, so nobody has a good shot there. I know that a good amount of those 12 come from people already in the T10.

You have a good shot at Berkeley. But, that being said, Berkeley is tough to gauge. You're grades are more than competitive, but make sure that you do a good job on your letters and your personal statement, then just hope.

If you really want to transfer, you are taking a huge risk by only applying to these two schools. I applied to most of the T14, and I only got into Berkeley and GULC. I was sure that I was going to get into NYU or Columbia, but that didn't happen. If I were you, I'd send an app to Harvard. They have a much larger transfer class than Stanford.

And if you get into one of these schools, the benefits are probably worth it. During OCI if you are at the very top of your class at a T20 you will do very well. The school that you came from and your grades do matter. A friend of mine came from a T20, and he cracked a V3 firm. And if you can crack Stanford, Harvard, and even Berkeley you will have that degree with you for the rest of your career.


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Re: T25 to Berkeley/Stanford

Postby SkyRiver » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:33 am

I have a sneaking suspicious you may be in a school which has improved from the 25-30 to the 20-25 bracket as of this year. If you are, we may be attending the same school.

I've talked with a few professors who I trust to be straight shooters and the advice has been generally this:

Pros of staying:
Being top 5% at a strong regional school is more than enough for big law
The school that I attend gives out full-tuition scholarships to retain top students (i.e., < top 10%). This is nothing to sneeze out considering all the CA schools worth going to seem to be $40k in tuition a year now.
Maintaining and improving upon relationships with professors
You're academically "secure" in the sense that you know you have what it takes to be the king/queen of the roost

Pros of leaving:
If you want to be in academia, it is VITAL to attend an elite school. Professors seem to think if you really want to have a chance at academia, it should actually be T6 rather than T14.
Assuming that you wanted to break into legal markets outside of your local region, T14 would certainly help that.

My assessment, which is based upon taking into account various postings on TLS and talking to students who have transferred and keyed towards your goals of Stanford/Berkeley:

W/r/t Stanford:
-As the previous poster said, your odds are a total crapshoot as 1) they take so few students and 2) your competition includes supremely qualified people from the East Coast who just can't take the weather anymore
-If you can get in, ABSOLUTELY go
-If you want academia, Stanford will do it
-If you want big law, even assuming the worst case--that employers will presume you to comparable to a median student at Stanford --your hiring opportunities will be improved

W/r/t Berkeley:
-If you go to a school in CA, I can almost guarantee that you'll get in, barring any glaring character flaws / oddities in your background. Schools love to eat up the best and brightest from neighboring schools as it cuts down the competition and enlists more of the most promising students in the region under their banner.
-BUT, if you do get in, think carefully before transferring
-The professors I spoke to didn't seem to think that Berkeley was sufficient to have a good shot at academia. Other schools that you would be competitive for transfer, like Columbia and NYU, seemed to have better standing in their eyes.
-Employment at Berkeley seems to be really rough right now and not as promising as other schools similarly ranked. Since you don't know how employers will look at you post-transfer, there's a very real risk of hurting yourself at OCI by trading your <5% status at a T25 school for being an unknown quantity at your new school. Of course, if you're trying to break into a market outside of your T25 school's region then by all means go to Berkeley, as it will certainly have a better national reputation than your current school.
-This next point ties into the whole cost-benefit analysis vis-a-vis employment. If your school gives out scholarships to retain students, it might be worth your while to stay and save yourself $60-80k over the next two years. However, if you're going the non-profit route Berkeley does have an LRAP program so look into that as well.

Good luck, and good job with the fantastic grades!

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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:55 am

Re: T25 to Berkeley/Stanford

Postby prettybirdy » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:30 am

thanks for the thoughtful responses. assuming i don't decide to apply elsewhere, that breakdown of berkeley v. stanford v. staying makes sense. i think i was already planning on dropping everything to go to stanford but i'm fully conscious that planning on that would be silly. :) i guess i just have to decide if the possibility of wanting to do academia is significant enough that i should apply more widely and consider moving to a region i'd rather not be in.

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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:57 pm

Re: T25 to Berkeley/Stanford

Postby transferhopeful12 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:58 pm

I was in a similar position last year, although better school and lower gpa.

you will get into Berkeley if you stay anywhere near where you are now. Profs and administration told me that it wasn't worth it to go there and I ended up at CCN. That being said, if you really like the school then go. Employment is not as high at others similarly ranked but if you want to be in CA then it won't hurt you. You will be "giving up" your GPA and rank but you employers see that and you will do well at OCIP (I think that's what they call it there) since you're coming from a good school with top grades. But whether you want to start over is up to you (they also reserve spots for transfers on their law review)

Stanford is tough to gauge and you will definitely have to be one of the top if not the top student to get in, but it seems like you have a chance if you continue to do well.

I would recommend also applying to Harvard since they take 30 or so, even if you don't want to end up on the east coast. I would also do CCN if you have ties to the region you want to work in because it's alot easier to get a job there if you're coming from one of those schools and have a demonstrated interest in going back and remaining in the area.

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