I Might Transfer Law Schools


I’m currently a 1L at a Tier 1 in Texas. I am thinking about transferring to a higher-ranked law school. My only reason for transferring would be to ensure that I would even have a chance of getting looked at for a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship.  Is it worth it?

Right now I’m at the second-best school in Texas (may not be saying too much), and if I do well, job prospects will still look good. I just want a shot at fulfilling a dream and need advice. The schools I am thinking about transferring to are University of Texas, Georgetown, Yale, Harvard (last two are big dreams with little hope).

Transferring schools is always tricky.  My instinct is: Unless you get into Harvard or Yale, stay put, get awesome grades, graduate number one and become Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.  But even then, the odds of getting that Supreme Court clerkship are remote.  As for Georgetown and UT, they’re good schools—and both boast past Supreme Court clerks—but it’s not like going there is some sort of Supreme guaranty.  Neither is going to Harvard or Yale, for that matter.  You’d have to be in the top 5% and be an Law Review editor.

Since it’s tough to get on Law Review—much less become an editor—as a transfer student, you might want to take this into consideration.  Then again, if you get into Harvard or Yale, just go.  You probably won’t become a Supreme Court clerk, but so what?

Bottom line: Transfer because you want to transfer—because you’re unhappy at your current school or because you get into someplace you think you’ll like better—not because you think one school gives you a better chance at a Supreme Court clerkship.  No one has ever succeeded because he went to Harvard, or failed because he went to a Tier 2 Law School, so try not to get too caught up in the whole “Where I go to school” thing.  Dangerous game.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Got a question for Ex-Bitter?  Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

12 Comments

  1. Al Dickman

    October 16, 2008 at 3:10 am

    You ought to have advised this dillweed that no one, repeat no one goes directly from law school to a supreme court clerkship.  Most go from federal appellate courts, and in rare instances, from select federal district judges.  The rest of your advice is sound.  He would do well to be the best he can, even if it at a Texas law school, then try and suck up his way into a prestigeous federal appellate clerkship in the 5th circuit (with the best judge available there) and if he gets that far, he’ll have a shot at the supremes.  Otherwise, he’d better get ready for a life down in Texas, where life is good and the women are VERY attractive.  He will have to decide for himself if all of this is worth it.  Personally, they can keep it.  Meanwhile this dillweed is only a 1L.  By the time he graduates, he may well decide to chase ambulances in Dallas for a living while persuing some hot Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

  2. unbarred

    October 16, 2008 at 7:19 am

    “hey ex-bitter, im a (fill in the blank) L gunner from a tier whatever school and but I dont really care to seek the advice of the people at my law school who my tuition pays to help me with these kinds of questions so I write to you with my self important inquiries to be posted online for others to mock”

    sound familiar?

    for real ex-bitter, you should get a job at a law school career services so you can start getting paid for all the free advice you hand out to law school geeks.

    make a separate column for this kind of stuff.

  3. Anonymous

    October 16, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Start making friends in high places, 1L.  You’re going to need very active and enthusiastic support from your law school faculty to get anywhere near SCOTUS.  It’s hard to develop that kind of rapport with the faculty when you transfer.  Stay put and work hard.

  4. Anon

    October 16, 2008 at 9:14 am

    “By the time he graduates, he may well decide to chase ambulances in Dallas for a living while persuing some hot Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.”
    You know…that doesn’t sound half bad.

  5. Anonymous

    October 16, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Yes, count me in with Dickman.  Gawd knows there are no good looking babes in this town.  Dallas Cheerleaders here we come!

  6. MS

    October 17, 2008 at 5:51 am

    As a 2L at “the best law school in Texas”, I feel obligated to correct Dickman’s for saying nobody goes straight to a SCOTUS clerkship.  We have a 3L who’s doing just that….

  7. EX-ASSOCIATE

    October 17, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I love chasing ambulances in Dallas, but I haven’t met any (current) Cowboys cheerleaders yet…

  8. Anonymous

    October 26, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    If you’re a 1L, you have no idea what your standing in the class is. You could be in the bottom third for all you know. Don’t be making such grand plans yet. Most law schools take a pretty limited number of transfer students anyway, and you really need to be at the top of your class to transfer to the quality of schools you are looking at–especially if you weren’t good enough to get into them in the first place.
    Sit tight, work through your first year, _then_ evaluate what you should be doing.

  9. bitterfan

    November 12, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    YES, you absolutely should transfer if you can, but not for a supreme court clerkship, because you won’t get one anyway.  There are only a few available, and getting one is kind of a crapshoot anyway.  Besides, they are just a means to an end.
    You should transfer because it will open doors that you didn’t even know existed.  Even if you end up at median at a top 14 school you will have countless opportunities that you would not have as a top 5% student at a lower-ranked school.  It is unfair and ridiculous, but it is true.

  10. bitterfan

    November 12, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I’m also going to have to emphatically disagree with the

  11. bitterfan

    November 12, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I’m also going to have to emphatically disagree with ex-bitter’s claim that “no one succeeeded because he went to Harvard,” or “failed because he went to a Tier 2 law school.”
    As a Tier 2 graduate, I just don’t have opportunities.  at all. after graduating top 5%, working on the law review’s editorial board, participating in moot court, and working 30 hours a week my last two and half years of law school, I find myself woefully unemployed after passing the bar.  My classmates who transferred to top 10 schools—who had the same 1L grades that I did– are now working at top firms or as clerks for federal judges. 
    I haven’t gotten an interview for a full-time job since 2L OCI, and I have also never gotten a callback.  The only thing that matters on your resume is the name of your law school.  I got into this mess because, as a 22 year old, I believed ex-bitter’s line that your career is what you make of it.  It is just not true; the established legal hierarchy of law schools determines all.

  12. Anonymous

    November 15, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    No matter what school you graduate from, no one likes to work with anal-retentive douchebags.  But I’m not so sure that rule applies to clerks.
    I would worry less about getting a clerkship with the Supreme Court and more about what city you plan on working in.  If you really hate where you’re currently at, upgrade to a school where you can see yourself staying at for a few years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>