If you are reading this, you probably have decided to transfer to a new school. If so, congratulations! This is a big testament to your hard work during the first year of law school.
You may be wondering: what’s next? Some things that immediately come to mind are moving to a new area, picking classes, and picking extracurriculars. Overwhelmed, nervous, and excited are some of the many feelings you are experiencing. As a recent transfer, I know first-hand the stress that comes with adjusting to a new school and community. Here are some things to put on your checklist as you navigate through this new transition.
Explore the different activities—student organizations, moot court, secondary journals, clinics, pro bono opportunities—that are available at your new school! Many of the leadership positions may already be filled, but you should still find out how you can get involved. Students will also contact you directly to introduce themselves and their groups, as well as offer to be a resource. Take them up on their generosity: ask questions and seek advice!
2. Law Review
If you are interested in joining law review, you should look into whether your new school offers a mini writing competition for transfer students toward the end of the summer. Some schools allow transfers to participate in the competition at the end of the 2L school year. You should also contact current students on the journal to learn about their work and time commitment.
3. 2L Summer Job
If you are looking for a private sector job for your 2L summer, you will be attending your new school’s on campus interviewing program, which maybe run under a different system than that of your old school. For example, some schools use a 100% lottery system, whereas others allow employers to pre-screen candidates using their first-year grades. You should connect with a private sector career advisor to learn more about the structure and how you can prepare. Similarly, if you plan to pursue public interest 2L summer opportunities, you should reach out to the public interest center and set up a time to chat with an advisor. You also may want to even look for an outside resource to help with your job search.
One question you might want to prepare for is why you decided to transfer, especially if you are looking to return to the geographic region from which you transferred or if your interviewer went to your old school. Your answer will not make or break your interview. However, transferring is such a complicated process that explaining the “why” succinctly might take some practice.
4. Judicial Clerkships
If you are thinking about pursuing a clerkship after graduating, you will need letters of recommendation from professors, preferably from your new school. So, it is important to build connections with the faculty members by attending office hours, working as a research assistant or teaching assistant, or conducting directed research or writing a student note under faculty supervision. If possible, try to take multiple courses with the same professor.
You can also start thinking about in what geographical area and what level of court you want to clerk. Once you have a sense, you can start reaching out to alumni who have clerked with a specific judge and ask questions, such as what kind of feedback the judge provides and whether there are opportunities to observe trials and arguments.
5. Moving To A New City
As you decide whether to live on campus or off campus, and if the latter, where in the area, consider what would help make the transition easier. Do you want to form close social connections with the students in your class? Do you prefer living closer to the downtown area where you have easier access to food options, nightlife, etc.? Can you handle a longer commute? Answering all these questions require a basic familiarity with the area of your new school, so you should reach out to people who know it well.
Reflecting on my experience, I think the biggest challenge was learning about and adjusting to new systems. As a rising 2L, you already know how law school generally works, but now you will need to understand a new infrastructure and set of norms. The 3L transfers at my new school were immensely helpful—offering to chat on the phone and over GroupMe if needed, and the 2Ls in my class were welcoming. Lean on them, as well as your fellow transfers, to bounce ideas around and commiserate.
Lastly, take time to relax before another busy year of school starts. Your mental health is a crucial piece to being a successful and happy law student. Your hobbies also should not be mutually exclusive with school. As you plan your year ahead, remember to carve out time in your schedule for yourself and your passions outside of the law. Good luck and stay well!
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