Transferring Law Schools Personal Statements

Writing transfer essays can be particularly hard– how do you tell one school why you’re leaving another?

Like “normal” personal statements, your aim is to show how you’re the ideal candidate. But, you also have an additional directive at hand: why you should join yet a different graduating class, as opposed to the one you are already a part of. It then becomes less, “Why X school” and more “Why X school, as opposed to the one you’re in now?

Regardless of what your reasons may be for leaving, writing generically won’t help you– it’ll only seem as though you’re just trying to get the heck out of Dodge, which doesn’t suit your purpose of getting in.

But, rest assured, dear readers: here are some do’s and don’ts to help you on your way to hopefully brighter, greener pastures.

DO: Talk about your your time at your previous school.

Highlight what was positive about your old school– don’t worry, an admissions counselor won’t judge you for leaving. If you really are hard-pressed to the positive about your experience (good thing you’re transferring!) then talk about how much you have grown– what have you come to realize during your experience at your soon-to-be-old school? Growth does include learning what you really want out of your school experience, and learning what kind of environment or program you prefer to be in.

DON’T: Talk trash about your old school.

Even if the campus sucks, the professors are awful, you live with a crap roommate in a room without heat, don’t diss it.  Yes, you may be unhappy with your school experience thus far, but don’t criticize it in your essay– it will only seem negative or even tacky. Talk less about how much the school failed you in whatever way, but talk more about what your needs and wants in your education or ideal campus life.

DO: Talk about how your prospective school will be an ideal fit for you.

“Why do you want to attend this school?” This question certainly sounds familiar, but it can be answered doubly now that you have spent sometime elsewhere. Why does this school appeal to you so much more than your current one? Consider what your prospective school offers, in comparison to your school now– what attracts you the most? Is its campus life? Or its programs of study? Talk about specifics.

DON’T: Mention how you wish you applied there/attended in the first place. (Or, how you wish you were admitted the first time around.)

Allusions to any of these will make you sounding regretful or even bitter, which will only take away from your essay. Through your personal statement, you should aim to sound positive and hopeful, as a promising future student who looks forward to advancing your education. Don’t demean your previous decision (or, worse, the decision of the previous admissions counselor) by presenting them in a bad light– talk instead about what you plan to do in the future.

DO: Talk about what you hope to accomplish at your new school.

When transferring, you have to a do a bit of homework. Investigate what programs are offered and what their campus life is actually like. Consider what their student body is like; what could you bring to the table? If there is a particular program you are interested in, talk about why. If there is a particular professor you want to study under: why, and how come? Then, what could you provide for the department or research team? If you’re interested in athletics, a similar line of questions are also pertinent. Talk about not only why you want to be there, but what you plan to do once you are there– how will you make the most of this school, and how will the school make the most of you?


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Posted in: Admissions   Tags: application tips, essay writing, personal statement, topic formulation

Each year the Admissions Committee entertains applications from students who contemplate transferring to Stanford Law School with advanced standing. Transfer applicants are accepted, however, only to the extent that vacancies exist in the second year class, and only applicants with superior academic records in law study will be considered. The previous law study must have been undertaken at a law school which is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

Applicants must have completed one full year of law study. The Admissions Committee will only grant admission with advanced standing to students who intend to spend two full academic years in residence at Stanford. Candidates may only apply for admission to begin the second year of law study commencing in the fall term.

The unit and residence credit to be given transfer students shall be formally determined by the associate dean for admissions and financial aid. Typically, a transfer student will receive three quarters of residency and no more than 39 quarter units of credit. In extraordinary cases, a student may receive more credit, but in no case shall a student receive more than 45 quarter units of credit for courses completed at another law school. Semester units are translated to quarter units as follows: one semester unit equals 1.3 quarter units. A student’s offer of admission shall set forth the residency and unit credit given.

Each transfer student’s transcript from the other law school will be evaluated to determine whether the student has completed the courses required of a Stanford Law School student in the first year. To the extent that a student has not completed those requirements, his or her offer of admission will set forth the required courses that must be completed.

Candidates applying for Fall 2018 transfer admission must submit the following documents:

  1. Application for Admission. Applicants are required to complete the entire application form and submit it electronically through LSAC.  The transfer application will become available on April 9, 2018.  The deadline to apply is June 15, 2018.
  2. Application Fee. The application fee of $100 must be submitted by credit card through LSAC. The fee may be waived in cases of extreme personal hardship. Applicants who are unable to pay the fee should review the SLS Fee Waiver Application Instructions, complete the SLS Application Fee Waiver Form and submit it to the Office of Admissions. Please allow 5-7 business days for a decision regarding your fee waiver request. Applicants should allow sufficient time for our office to process the fee waiver request so that the application is transmitted by the stated deadline of June 15.
  3. Resume. Stanford requires a one–to–two page resume describing your academic, extracurricular, and professional activities. The resume must be submitted electronically with your electronic application.
  4. Personal Statement. The personal statement describes important aspects of yourself not otherwise apparent in your application and provides your reasons for wishing to transfer to Stanford. The personal statement must be submitted electronically with your electronic application.
  5. Credential Assembly Service Report. We will request this report from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) upon receipt of your application. Please note that your subscription service with LSAC is active for five years from your original registration date. If you have not registered with LSAC, you must notify us in writing and arrange to have a copy of your report on file at your law school sent directly to us.
  6. Law School Admission Test. Stanford applicants for Fall 2018 transfer admission must have taken the LSAT no later than the June 2017 administration. Tests taken prior to June 2011 or after June 2017 will not be accepted.
  7. Undergraduate and Non–Law Graduate Transcripts. The official undergraduate transcript on file at LSAC must show conferral of your degree. Official transcripts for any graduate work (non–law) should also be on file at LSAC. If a graduate degree was granted, the transcript must show conferral of your degree.
  8. Law School Transcript. An official law school transcript showing full first–year grades and class standing must be sent directly to us from your current law school.
  9. Letters of Recommendation. Two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a law professor, are required.
  10. Dean’s Certification.  A Dean’s Certification from all schools at which you have received a degree is required.
  11. Letter of Good Standing.  A letter of good standing must be received from your current law school.

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