Should I Transfer to a T1 Law School?


QI just finished my first year at T3/T4 law school located in the Northeast. I am currently ranked in the top 3% of my class. I entered the school with a full-tuition scholarship which I don’t imagine losing. My question is whether I should be transferring to a higher ranked school. I’m hesitant about taking on $100,000 worth of loans in this job market but at the same time I know I stand a better chance of securing a job if I graduate from a more competitive school. Do I graduate from a T3/T4 with no debt (living at home rent-free), top of the class, on Law Review, or do I transfer to a T1 school, take on the debt, and take my chances? I’m nearly certain I will transfer if accepted to a top 20 school on the east coast (although I’m not sure I have a shot), but should I also be considering transferring to schools outside the top 35? I want to stay in the Northeast and work in either NYC or Boston. Please help me.


ATough choice, I’ll admit that. Stick around at the T3/T4 and, despite acing things and coming out without debt, you’ve got a tough road ahead if you want to work in a big firm, particularly in New York or Boston. The chances for that are pretty slim. Assuming you can transfer to a top 20, your chances to big firm stardom increase only marginally. Besides, which is better? Top of your class at a T3 or middle of the road at a top 20? A top 100? Not a whole lot of difference. So, do you want to roll the dice, though a bit deftly loaded if you transfer, and gamble up to $100K in student loans? Or graduate with a JD, become a lawyer, and have no debt (and thus plenty more options available, at least financially)?

If you are hell-bent on getting to a big East Coast law firm, then there’s not much use dissuading you. But please look hard at your motivation. Maybe readers will have better advice, but unless your heart is set on BigLaw and you want to get there at a hefty price, I wouldn’t gamble, especially today. I’d stick with the T3 and start tracking down alumni now and become a nuisance to career services. Work them hard to move your way into a decent job, albeit at a smaller firm in your region and outside the so-called premiere league that unfortunately continues to mesmerize law students. Good luck.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smcgee/363940921/)

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.

6 Comments

  1. Bill

    July 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Head to where the hot babes are.

    If you are going to be unemployed all day, at least you will be able to find hot women to make the nites go better.

    There is nothing worse than being stuck in a place where all the women look like men with long hair. Ugh!

    • Alma Federer

      July 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      You men. Fooey!

      What about men that are nutless squirrels?

      How are we women supposed to find a gem in a sea of turds?

      This is the $1M question. Also, I would never have sex with men who I go to law school with. Who needs them panting and sweating all over me?

  2. MagicCircleJerk

    July 8, 2011 at 11:42 am

    If you want biglaw, transfer to any t14 other than the GULC JD factory. Otherwise, be top of your class at your TTT and ride that.

    • Bobby_D

      December 14, 2012 at 1:17 am

      You’re a fool to say that. I transferred from a T3/T4 school to GULC, graduated, and now work at a top 25 law firm (according to Vault’s 2012 rankings.

  3. RecentLawGrad

    July 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Define T1. Top-30 is a harder sell, but Top-12 might be worth that cash. HLS grads are always in demand.

    • Guano Dubango

      July 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      I have an LLM from Georgetown. Is this worth anything in your book?

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