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Transfer Students

Typically, we admit 15 to 20 2L transfer students each year. Most successful applicants are in the top 10 percent of their 1L class. Below, we'll run through both the life of a transfer student and the nuts and bolts of the application process. Please note: The sections below include updated information relating to process changes resulting from COVID-19.

The life of a transfer student

Career Planning. Admitted transfer students participate, along with other second-year students, in our on-campus interviewing program, in which about 500 employers visit the campus. Transfer students are eligible to bid for any interviews they wish; we allow no pre-screening of candidates by the employers. Just as the students do who enter Michigan Law in their 1L year, our transfer students experience extraordinary success in their legal careers. Of the 58 transfer students from 37 different law schools who have graduated in the past three years, 100% reported jobs within 10 months of graduation. Over 17% began their legal careers with prestigious judicial clerkships, the vast majority at the federal or state supreme court level. More than 65% went to jobs at private firms, with more than 84% of that group going to National Law Journal 250 and American Lawyer 100 firms. Those who chose not to work at firms went on to sought-after legal positions in public interest, the government, and corporations, at employers like the DOJ, EPA, Office of Special Counsel, and the JAG Corps. As a whole, these transfers spread out to 30 cities across the nation and overseas.

Journals. Transfer students are eligible to join the staff of the Law School's eight publications (the Michigan Law Review, the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, the Michigan Journal of International Law, the Journal of Gender & Law, the Michigan Technology Law Review, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law, the Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law, and the Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review). Writing competitions for transfer students are held over the summer. Transfer applicants interested in participating in a student journal are required to register for the transfer student journals writing competition early in the summer. Be advised that journals at Michigan Law are student run; journal application requirements, deadlines, etc. are set wholly at the discretion of each respective journal. Of the 14 transfer students who enrolled in 2019, 8 have joined journal staffs, and many of those students received offers from multiple publications.

Transfer applicants interested in participating in a student journal are required to register for the transfer student journals writing competition between June 13 and July 2. In order to successfully register for the journals writing competition, you must log in by creating a friend account with your personal email address, or by using a University of Michigan uniqname, and you must continue using your initial method of logging in throughout the competition. Specific details (competition dates, instructions, etc.) for each journal's writing competition will be provided upon registration. All applicants must apply during the registration period regardless of whether an offer of admission has been made, or if one has been made, whether it's been accepted by the applicant. Failure to register during this period will result in being ineligible to participate on a journal.

Curriculum. Admitted transfer students register for classes during transfer-student orientation in August. In our experience, transfer students do not suffer any particular disadvantage in selecting the classes they want. At least two years of credit must be earned in residence at the University of Michigan; in general, transfer students may expect a maximum of one year of transfer credit to be accepted toward the Michigan degree. (In general, transfer applicants must present one full year of academic credit from their home institution.)

Application nuts and bolts


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes relevant to the transfer process—among them, to grades and to summer employment. We will continue to have a holistic review process for transfer applications in the 2020 cycle, in which no single factor has a specific weight. This year, we are likely to assign more consequence to the institution at which the first year of law school was completed and to faculty recommendations, along with first term grades, to account for the fact that most candidates will not have grades to show for the second term. The personal statement and our sense of a candidate's fit for the JD program at Michigan will be given particularly close consideration. While in general, we put very little weight on LSAT (or other standardized test) scores and undergraduate transcripts, they may this year be useful for conveying helpful contextual information. While 1L summer employment is usually a significant consideration in our process, we are cognizant that the pandemic is likely to have far-reaching consequences for summer employment; any change you've experienced in your plans would be helpful information for our reviewers. Finally, we expect to invite some applicants for a brief interview, as part of a pilot project to help us with our holistic assessment.

See below for more detail on all these topics.

Timing. Applications for transfer are accepted beginning May 1. Our usual application deadline is July 12, to allow adequate time for participating in our on-campus Early Interview Week in late July. Because of concerns about COVID-19, our on-campus interviews for 2Ls in 2020-21 is scheduled to be held in January 2021. We will therefore accept applications through Monday, July 20, 2020. Despite this longer application timeframe, we strongly encourage you to submit your application as early as possible. If you have any questions about the timing of your application, we encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible. Decisions are made beginning in mid-June.

Requirements. The following documents are necessary to complete a transfer application file; if you have any difficulty obtaining any item from your current law school, please contact the Admissions Office to discuss your situation.

1. Application for admission. Use our transfer/visitor admission application available via LSAC between May 1 and July 20. (After you submit via LSAC, we download all that information into a completely different, more aesthetically pleasing, and paper-saving format. We invite you to take a peek at the reader's-eye view of our application PDF.)

2. Application fee ($75.00). Fee waivers are not generally available for transfer applicants. 

3. A letter of good standing. This should be sent directly from the Dean (or Dean's designate) at your current law school to us, and should state that you are academically eligible to return to that school.

4. Law school grades. We prefer to receive an official transcript, if available. However, we recognize that transcripts can often be delayed, and we will be happy to review your application with an unofficial transcript or other record of your grades. (Any offer of admission will be conditional until we receive an official transcript from your current law school.) We recognize that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many law schools have implemented optional or mandatory pass/fail grading policies for the winter (or spring) semester (or quarter or trimester) of 2020. Candidates with pass/fail grades related to the pandemic should have no concerns that they will be penalized. We recognize that changes to grading systems are outside of your control.

5. A letter stating your class rank. If your law school ranks students, please have the records office of your current law school send us a letter with your ranking. (If your class rank is shown on your transcript, you need not provide a separate letter.) If you have any other information that will assist in evaluating the strength of your academic performance, please let us know.

6. A copy of your LSAC report. We can get this in one of three ways: (A) We will automatically request a report directly from LSAC as soon as we receive your application—but please note that in order for us to receive a new report, you must prepay LSAC for the cost; (B) If we are unable to receive the report because you didn't prepay, we will then automatically check to see if you applied to Michigan Law in the last year's admissions season, and if so, we'll use the report still on file in our office; (C) If you don't want to pay LSAC for a new report and you didn't apply to us in the recent past, you should ask the records office at your current law school to send us a copy directly. (Please have any transcripts (graduate or undergraduate) that are not already included in your LSAC report sent directly to the Admissions Office by the originating institution.) PLEASE NOTE: If you applied to your current law school without an LSAT score, we are happy to consider your application. We will still, however, need to receive a copy of your LSAC report through one of the methods described above.

7. A letter of academic recommendation from a faculty member at your current law school who has had you as a student. The letter may be sent to us directly by the faculty member.  Alternatively, you may use the LSAC recommender service, in which case we'll need to order your report in order to receive your letter—which means that, as described in paragraph 6 above, you'll need to prepay LSAC for that cost.

8. Personal Statement. The University of Michigan Law School has long understood that enrolling students with a broad range of perspectives and experiences generates a vibrant culture of comprehensive debate and discussion. Your personal statement is an extremely helpful tool for evaluating your potential contributions to our community.

9. Interviews (by invitation). In an effort to increase the information available to us for our holistic assessment, we will be inviting a limited number of transfer applicants to participate in a pilot interview program. We have teamed up with InitialView to provide those invited with a chance to talk about their experiences and goals in an unscripted conversation. The interview will not be scored or rated. It will be recorded and provided to the Admissions Office for our review along with other application materials.

Financial Aid. Transfer students are eligible for loans on the same terms as all other second-year students. For full details of the financial-aid application process, please visit the website of our Financial Aid Office. Please note: while providing your Social Security number on the application form is entirely optional, you must provide it to us in order to be processed for federal financial aid, including loans. Therefore, if you do not wish to include the number on your admissions application, but intend to submit the FAFSA, please contact the Financial Aid Office (734.764.5289) to discuss.

Please feel free to contact the Admissions Office by telephone (734.764.0537) or by e-mail (law.jd.admissions@umich.edu) if you have additional questions.