T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

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T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:46 pm

(Anonymous because I haven't discussed transfer with anyone at my school.)

I started at my current institution with no intention of later transferring. However, I was pleasantly surprised by my fall semester grades. I high-scored 3 of my 4 classes, resulting in a 4.1 GPA. Rankings have not been released yet, but I imagine I am in the top 1-10% of my class. I attend a strong regional university (a T40) with a substantial scholarship. LSAT = 160; undergrad GPA = 3.3. Right now, I want to keep my options open as I explore different classes and discover my practice interests. Ideally, I would like to set myself up for a shot at a federal judicial clerkship or a BigLaw offer.

My initial impulse after receiving my grades was to stay put. I enjoy the "big fish, small pond" dynamic at my current school, and I have great relationships with my professors. I genuinely enjoy where I live, and my tuition, after scholarship, is very inexpensive. However, as I read more about the option of transferring, it dawned on me that my long-term career goals may be better served at a T14 school (this is the only tier I would consider transferring to).

I would be perfectly happy to live and work in my school's geographical region for the next 5 years or so (possibly longer), but I do value geographical flexibility (family is on the other coast). I am concerned that if I decide to move outside of this geographical region at some point down the line, my degree may not translate well.

Other concerns: (1) getting into a T14 school with my undergrad GPA and LSAT score; (2) giving up the big fish dynamic/dropping to the bottom of the pack at a new school; (3) losing valuable relationships with faculty at my current institution; (4) paying sticker at an expensive school.

I've been assured by faulty and staff at my institution that, provided I keep my grades up, there will be opportunities, admittedly limited and competitive, for me to land a federal judicial clerkship or a BigLaw position. Do you think that is realistic at a T40?

Does anyone have the experience of transferring from a similarly ranked school to a T14? If so, how was your performance at the new school? Do you feel that the transfer substantially benefited your career goals?

Finally, do you think I have a shot at YHS?

Any advice or feedback is welcome. Thank you!

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by raven1231 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:01 pm

1. Any school you would transfer to would not care what your LSAT and GPA are. They are meaningless to them now since they won't impact their ranking. With that means you will also pay sticker to attend any potential school you transfer to, something to definitely consider.

2. It is possible you drop rather significantly in ranking dependent on how motivated your peers are and given you all now know what to expect and how to improve. Thus, staying where you are currently is not at all certain.

3. You can make these relationships at any school. I would not really put too much weight on this.

4. This is a genuine concern, however, if you want to do big law and are set on a t14 definitely worth consideration.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:12 pm

From looking at YSHCCN ABA 509 forms, I think the general trend is that Yale takes a small transfer class from T20 schools almost exclusively and Stanford varies, but is highly selective and generally takes a small class of transfers from t25 and West Coast t70 (usually one person from Hastings or Pepperdine). Harvard, NYU and Columbia take large classes; Chicago takes a moderate-sized class; and you're in play for all 4 schools. Your success in applying will depend on several factors, but the most important is keeping your grades up. As to whether it makes sense to leave a rank and scholarship on the table and pay sticker at YSHCCN, I think it does for clerking and biglaw, but less so for any other pursuit (except, say, federal govt work). As for lower t14s, I think it only makes sense to transfer if you want to be in that market OR you're set on transferring up and don't get into the top 6 schools. You're in a decent position now, and I'd hold steady and worry about grades. If you're still way up there, make a play for t6.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:39 pm

raven1231 wrote:1. Any school you would transfer to would not care what your LSAT and GPA are. They are meaningless to them now since they won't impact their ranking. With that means you will also pay sticker to attend any potential school you transfer to, something to definitely consider.

2. It is possible you drop rather significantly in ranking dependent on how motivated your peers are and given you all now know what to expect and how to improve. Thus, staying where you are currently is not at all certain.

3. You can make these relationships at any school. I would not really put too much weight on this.

4. This is a genuine concern, however, if you want to do big law and are set on a t14 definitely worth consideration.
Thank you for your advice! It's good to know that my LSAT and GPA are not really in play this time around. The point that I can forge relationships with faculty at a new school is an important reminder.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:46 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:From looking at YSHCCN ABA 509 forms, I think the general trend is that Yale takes a small transfer class from T20 schools almost exclusively and Stanford varies, but is highly selective and generally takes a small class of transfers from t25 and West Coast t70 (usually one person from Hastings or Pepperdine). Harvard, NYU and Columbia take large classes; Chicago takes a moderate-sized class; and you're in play for all 4 schools. Your success in applying will depend on several factors, but the most important is keeping your grades up. As to whether it makes sense to leave a rank and scholarship on the table and pay sticker at YSHCCN, I think it does for clerking and biglaw, but less so for any other pursuit (except, say, federal govt work). As for lower t14s, I think it only makes sense to transfer if you want to be in that market OR you're set on transferring up and don't get into the top 6 schools. You're in a decent position now, and I'd hold steady and worry about grades. If you're still way up there, make a play for t6.
Thank you for your advice! Maintaining my grades is definitely my top concern. The pressure is really on now! (Any advice for how to handle that pressure is also welcome.) I agree with you that paying sticker and forgoing my rank and scholarship really only makes sense for a transfer to a T6. Increasing the likelihood of an opportunity to clerk or get a BigLaw offer would really be my #1 motivation for transferring.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by <3waitlists » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:34 pm

First of all, kudos for thinking about this in the right way.

As regards a BL gig, the main benefit of transferring is getting your resume in front of more firms than you would at your current school's OCI. Particularly so where the T6 OCIs will force firms to interview you through a lottery system. Bear in mind, however, that those firms will look at you and your grades as if you scored an interview at your old school, not your new T6. Also bear in mind that you'll pay sticker wherever you go, so (knowing nothing about your financial position) BL would probably be necessary to pay down that debt.

Another benefit of transferring, as you note, is having a much better shot at clerkships. There's a caveat, however, that your 2L transfer grades become even more important than your 1L grades because you'll be starting with a fresh GPA.

Can you get both a federal clerkship and biglaw at your current school? Definitely if you keep your current GPA (which may well put you in the top 5 people in your class). BUT those biglaw positions and federal clerkship opportunities may be more limited to the geographic area in which your strong regional sits.

Okay, chances. Probably near zero at Yale and Stanford. Maybe up to 50/50 for Harvard. Better than even for Columbia and Chicago. A lock all the way down (including NYU, Penn, and GULC). You have stronger chances where your school shares a geographic region with the transfer school.

Oh, the big-fish-small-pond thing. Definitely something to be said about that, but you've already shown yourself to be an excellent law student who "gets" law school. That aptitude is directly transferable no matter where you go, meaning that you'll definitely be above median anywhere so long as you keep working hard.

All-in-all, I agree that, given your clerkship goal, you should transfer to Harvard, Columbia, or Chicago, but that you might stick it out at your current school rather than going to GULC or Cornell. If you're set on transferring, submit EA apps to the schools that permit it and focus on keeping your grades up.

Congrats on your success so far!

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by nixy » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:44 pm

<3waitlists wrote:Can you get both a federal clerkship and biglaw at your current school? Definitely if you keep your current GPA (which may well put you in the top 5 people in your class). BUT those biglaw positions and federal clerkship opportunities may be more limited to the geographic area in which your strong regional sits.
Agreed with this, but I think also that if you get a federal clerkship/biglaw in your current geographic area, you would have some mobility in 5 years or so. At that point, your experience clerking/biglawing will matter just as much (for many employers) as your degree. So it's more about when you'd want to move than not being able to at all.

That said, transferring to a truly national school will likely give you more mobility sooner.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:57 pm

<3waitlists wrote:First of all, kudos for thinking about this in the right way.

As regards a BL gig, the main benefit of transferring is getting your resume in front of more firms than you would at your current school's OCI. Particularly so where the T6 OCIs will force firms to interview you through a lottery system. Bear in mind, however, that those firms will look at you and your grades as if you scored an interview at your old school, not your new T6. Also bear in mind that you'll pay sticker wherever you go, so (knowing nothing about your financial position) BL would probably be necessary to pay down that debt.

Another benefit of transferring, as you note, is having a much better shot at clerkships. There's a caveat, however, that your 2L transfer grades become even more important than your 1L grades because you'll be starting with a fresh GPA.

Can you get both a federal clerkship and biglaw at your current school? Definitely if you keep your current GPA (which may well put you in the top 5 people in your class). BUT those biglaw positions and federal clerkship opportunities may be more limited to the geographic area in which your strong regional sits.

Okay, chances. Probably near zero at Yale and Stanford. Maybe up to 50/50 for Harvard. Better than even for Columbia and Chicago. A lock all the way down (including NYU, Penn, and GULC). You have stronger chances where your school shares a geographic region with the transfer school.

Oh, the big-fish-small-pond thing. Definitely something to be said about that, but you've already shown yourself to be an excellent law student who "gets" law school. That aptitude is directly transferable no matter where you go, meaning that you'll definitely be above median anywhere so long as you keep working hard.

All-in-all, I agree that, given your clerkship goal, you should transfer to Harvard, Columbia, or Chicago, but that you might stick it out at your current school rather than going to GULC or Cornell. If you're set on transferring, submit EA apps to the schools that permit it and focus on keeping your grades up.

Congrats on your success so far!
Thanks for your thorough response! Two points in particular were helpful:

1) "Bear in mind, however, that those firms will look at you and your grades as if you scored an interview at your old school, not your new T6."

2) "There's a caveat, however, that your 2L transfer grades become even more important than your 1L grades because you'll be starting with a fresh GPA."

It looks like Chicago and GULC are the only T14 with EA applications, but I will definitely look into those.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Pennoyer v. Meh » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:43 pm

I believe Duke also has a non-binding EA program (I remember being irritated last year that they did and I failed to check), so I would go school by school to double-check.

Also, to speak more broadly to your considerations: my profile was fairly similar to yours (T50 regional school, very strong grades/relationships, aspirations for BigLaw and clerkships), and I transferred to a T6 this year. OCI worked out, in the sense that I got an offer from a top-tier firm in the market I wanted (and would've never gotten had I stayed at my old school), but it was one of only two offers I got (and the other offer I received wasn't from OCI and was from a below-market firm). Meanwhile, I got absolutely slaughtered overall, despite having those strong grades at my prior school, having really stellar ties to my region, etc. The point of this is, while transferring may well increased your odds, you're a stronger candidate than I was, so it may not be worth it for you to transfer to a new school and take on the additional debt, starting over with grades, etc., especially since, as Nixy points out, getting a clerkship and good firm spot in your current area will provide you with mobility anyway in a few years.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:58 pm

Pennoyer v. Meh wrote:I believe Duke also has a non-binding EA program (I remember being irritated last year that they did and I failed to check), so I would go school by school to double-check.

Also, to speak more broadly to your considerations: my profile was fairly similar to yours (T50 regional school, very strong grades/relationships, aspirations for BigLaw and clerkships), and I transferred to a T6 this year. OCI worked out, in the sense that I got an offer from a top-tier firm in the market I wanted (and would've never gotten had I stayed at my old school), but it was one of only two offers I got (and the other offer I received wasn't from OCI and was from a below-market firm). Meanwhile, I got absolutely slaughtered overall, despite having those strong grades at my prior school, having really stellar ties to my region, etc. The point of this is, while transferring may well increased your odds, you're a stronger candidate than I was, so it may not be worth it for you to transfer to a new school and take on the additional debt, starting over with grades, etc., especially since, as Nixy points out, getting a clerkship and good firm spot in your current area will provide you with mobility anyway in a few years.
Thanks for sharing your experience!

What do you mean by "I got absolutely slaughtered overall?" At OCI specifically, or do you mean at your new school generally (that it was hard for you to keep up grades at your new school, form new relationships, etc)?

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Pennoyer v. Meh » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for sharing your experience!

What do you mean by "I got absolutely slaughtered overall?" At OCI specifically, or do you mean at your new school generally (that it was hard for you to keep up grades at your new school, form new relationships, etc)?
OCI specifically; I think I got a couple callbacks out of ~35 screeners in my desired market, and 0 callbacks out of another ~10 or so screeners in other markets? And that only led to the one offer from a market-paying firm.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:32 am

OP here.

Since posting I learned that I'm ranked #1/~200. My burning question now is whether to apply ED at Chicago or to hold out for my 2nd semester grades and take a shot at HLS. A reoccurring theme in TLS threads seems to be that the prestige placed on HLS as compared to the CCN is more-or-less arbitrary and that the outcomes at HLS are only marginally better. If I assume that's true, then ED at Chicago is a no-brainer, right?

Two considerations:
(1) As I alluded to in my original post, I have no strong ties to any geographical region and can see myself needing to make cross-country moves multiple times over the next 15 years or so due to my spouse's career and other family reasons. Geographical flexibility is one of the main reasons that I'm hoping to transfer up. Is a degree from Chicago as mobile as a degree from HLS? Is there any degree in the T14 that you would consider particularity immobile?
(2) So far, I'm not feeling as confident in this semester's classes as I did in last semester's. It may be my anxiety getting the better of me, but in at least one class I'm feeling actually lost. Although I trust myself to hustle, and I know that this semester's grades weren't flukes, I'm anxious about my ability to hold out in the top 3. Assuming I fall in the rankings but stay in the top 15%-20%, do you think I'll have any shot at HLS? If the answer is no or maybe (instead of yes), my gut tells me to apply ED to Chicago rather than risk a scenario in which my grades fall and my only transfer option is GLUC. (The more I read about GLUC the more conflicted I feel about transferring there, even if it's the only place I get in. Why? Debt and the crazy DC job market.) Any feedback on this calculus is welcome.

Finally, while I'm playing worse-case-scenario, does anyone have thoughts on graduating from Chicago in the bottom third? A cursory look at their employment stats seems to suggest that graduating bottom of the class at Chicago may be a better outcome for me than graduating top of my class at my T40. Does this bear out in your opinion? Thoughts?

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by QContinuum » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:14 pm

First, huge congrats on your tremendous performance! Very impressive and you should rightly be very proud of yourself.
Anonymous User wrote:My burning question now is whether to apply ED at Chicago or to hold out for my 2nd semester grades and take a shot at HLS. A reoccurring theme in TLS threads seems to be that the prestige placed on HLS as compared to the CCN is more-or-less arbitrary and that the outcomes at HLS are only marginally better. If I assume that's true, then ED at Chicago is a no-brainer, right?
Correct. The upside - HLS over Chicago - is extremely limited. HLS has an edge over Chicago, but it's slight. The downside - the risk that you won't get straight As in second-semester - is pretty large, frankly. This isn't a slight against you or your work ethic or your academic abilities in any way, shape or form. Rather, it's about the fact that there's a certain arbitrariness to law school grading, and a certain arbitrariness to whether something happens that might impair your performance on test day (cold, family issue, headache, PMS, ...). I don't think this is a risk/reward ratio worth gambling on.
Anonymous User wrote:Is a degree from Chicago as mobile as a degree from HLS? Is there any degree in the T14 that you would consider particularity immobile?
Sure, so Cornell's generally perceived to be particularly immobile (relative to the rest of the T13). It still places extremely well into BigLaw, but this is generally perceived to be limited to NYC BigLaw. And for maximum mobility, you'd generally want to be in the T6. (The lower T13 still have national reach, but to a lesser extent, particularly outside the major legal markets.)

(Georgetown is more in line with the T20 than the T13 in terms of placement ability and mobility, so it places largely in D.C. and NYC.)

For the kinds of jobs you'd apply for, I don't think there's a serious mobility differential between Harvard and Chicago. At least not one that's severe enough to risk not doing ED.
Anonymous User wrote:Finally, while I'm playing worse-case-scenario, does anyone have thoughts on graduating from Chicago in the bottom third? A cursory look at their employment stats seems to suggest that graduating bottom of the class at Chicago may be a better outcome for me than graduating top of my class at my T40. Does this bear out in your opinion? Thoughts?
I think that's not necessarily a helpful comparison. If you end up graduating bottom third from Chicago, chances are you'd also have ended up graduating bottom third - or at least bottom half - from your T40. It isn't that much harder to do well at the T13 vs. the T40. If you would've graduated top of your class at your T40, there's no way that would translate into bottom third performance at Chicago.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Qtc » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:19 pm

You should ask yourself what your goals are--for biglaw and clerkship--->I'd strongly consider ED to Chicago. You are in all likelihood going to be accepted. You do not understand the significance placed on your JD degree until you attempt to enter the "elite" legal world. The only consideration would be Chicago's rather unique academic environment. It's not for everyone.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:33 am

The upside - HLS over Chicago - is extremely limited. HLS has an edge over Chicago, but it's slight. The downside - the risk that you won't get straight As in second-semester - is pretty large, frankly. This isn't a slight against you or your work ethic or your academic abilities in any way, shape or form. Rather, it's about the fact that there's a certain arbitrariness to law school grading, and a certain arbitrariness to whether something happens that might impair your performance on test day (cold, family issue, headache, PMS, ...). I don't think this is a risk/reward ratio worth gambling on.
This is just what I needed to hear. Physiologically, applying ED takes some pressure off, even though I know Chicago isn't a sure thing. Great advice.

(Georgetown is more in line with the T20 than the T13 in terms of placement ability and mobility, so it places largely in D.C. and NYC.)
This is aligns well with other things I've heard about Georgetown. I think I will still apply ED to Georgetown as a back-up, but if Georgetown is the only T14 I get into, I'm not sure that I would transfer. Does anyone have thoughts on transferring from a T40 to Georgetown?

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by ksm6969 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:43 pm

Pretty sure HLS does need based aid for transfers (in line with how it does it for all students), whereas Chicago doesnt give any aid to transfers, so if you qualify for need based aid then this is something else to consider.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by omgomghi » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:19 am

PM me to talk further, but bottom line is I would hate to see the weird TLS HLS shade color your decision. Of course all the tippy-top schools are great — Chicago is an incredible institution of legal education. But it’s not HLS, and it’s not HLS in some of the ways that matter relatively more for transfer students (see below).

And in your situation, your big-law outcomes aren’t going to change much whether you stay or go. Take the firm job opportunities you have given your grades at your current school, round up a touch maybe, you’ll have your post-transfer outcomes. (Clerkships are somewhat different, but also depend on things like 2L grades, law review...)

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by nixy » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:26 am

omgomghi wrote:PM me to talk further, but bottom line is I would hate to see the weird TLS HLS shade color your decision. Of course all the tippy-top schools are great — Chicago is an incredible institution of legal education. But it’s not HLS, and it’s not HLS in some of the ways that matter relatively more for transfer students (see below).

And in your situation, your big-law outcomes aren’t going to change much whether you stay or go. Take the firm job opportunities you have given your grades at your current school, round up a touch maybe, you’ll have your post-transfer outcomes. (Clerkships are somewhat different, but also depend on things like 2L grades, law review...)
But there’s no HLS shade involved in this conversation. Plenty of people have said that HLS would be a good option for this OP. The issue isn’t whether Harvard would be better than Chicago in a vacuum, but whether waiting another semester to apply to HLS, and risking the GPA going down and being less competitive than they are now, makes more sense than applying ED to Chicago now, when the GPA is a known quantity and they know they’re competitive. You can certainly argue that it’s worth it to wait so you can apply to Harvard, but reasonable minds can differ on the risk that poses without being said to cast shade on HLS.

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Re: T40 to T14? 4.1 GPA. Transfer advice?

Post by omgomghi » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:56 am

nixy wrote:
omgomghi wrote:PM me to talk further, but bottom line is I would hate to see the weird TLS HLS shade color your decision. Of course all the tippy-top schools are great — Chicago is an incredible institution of legal education. But it’s not HLS, and it’s not HLS in some of the ways that matter relatively more for transfer students (see below).

And in your situation, your big-law outcomes aren’t going to change much whether you stay or go. Take the firm job opportunities you have given your grades at your current school, round up a touch maybe, you’ll have your post-transfer outcomes. (Clerkships are somewhat different, but also depend on things like 2L grades, law review...)
But there’s no HLS shade involved in this conversation. Plenty of people have said that HLS would be a good option for this OP. The issue isn’t whether Harvard would be better than Chicago in a vacuum, but whether waiting another semester to apply to HLS, and risking the GPA going down and being less competitive than they are now, makes more sense than applying ED to Chicago now, when the GPA is a known quantity and they know they’re competitive. You can certainly argue that it’s worth it to wait so you can apply to Harvard, but reasonable minds can differ on the risk that poses without being said to cast shade on HLS.
I actually completely agree with this. Definitely a hard decision, and one that many people with great first semester grades encounter (congrats OP!). That’s why I was saying that I didn’t want the decision to be unfairly affected by the shade. And I do think the shade is relevant to the extent it leads to a consensus that HLS ~= Chicago (which is true but only in the vague sense that every T6 ~= every other T6).

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