« on: January 16, 2008, 11:13:29 PM »
You'll have to do it again this spring, but top 1-3% almost anywhere for a full 1L year will get you into all but a few T14 schools. I transferred into CLS from a barely T1, but out of the 60 or so in my transfer class, more than a couple were from T3-ish schools.
If you're looking for good news, your UG GPA and LSAT score are an insignificant factor in the decision process, if they are factored in at all. The emphasis on UG GPA and LSAT in the regular decision process is driven by rankings and the substantial weight assigned to these two factors. On the other hand, as a transfer, your UG GPA and LSAT score will never see the light of day for the purposes of any ranking calculation or admission statistic. Like everyone else in my transfer class, CLS wasn't competing against NYU or Harvard for my LSAT score or even my 1L grades, they were competing for the $80,000 in tuition I represented. $80,000 that they can take in without any consideration as to whether someone with your LSAT belongs there or how it will figure into some calculation that will oneday determine their position in a ranking table or the FAQ section of an admissions website. The same $80,000 that a peer school might take off your hands if they don't give you the chance to send it their way. Put another way, an admissions officer sitting at CLS or Stamford knows that nearly every applicant applied to the other one, along with Harvard, Chicago, NW, Penn, etc. So if you're the admissions officer at Stamford looking at a transfer application, the question boils down to this ... are the other ones going to let him in and take the $80,000 if we don't? If you're top 1% almost anywhere short of a dreadful school, the answer is most likely yes.
As for the other two things - recommendations from law professors and your personal statement - I would argue they factor in, but very little compared to your rank.
As for the recommendation, I never raised my hand in any class or stayed after to ask questions my entire 1L year and the first time I spoke directly with either of the profs who wrote me recommendations was when I sat in their offices at the end of April and asked them to do it for me. They both readily agreed to do so, but quite appropriately, neither was especially enthusiastic or insightful. Of the two, I only saw the one from my torts professor. It was two sentences long, the second of which pointed out the fact that he didnt really know me and couldn't recall me volunteering in class discussions, but judging by my grade on his exam, he was confident I would have made a valuable contribution if I had.
In my opinion, they're required for two reasons, neither of which have anything to do with what they actually say: (i) to prove you're serious enough about transferring to take 15 minutes out of your day and ask for it and (ii) to provide a minimum level of assurance that you're not an all around terrible human being to the point that
even after beating nearly everyone on 8-10 exams, you're still unable to muster 2 strangers to write a two sentence letter confirming that they don't really know enough about you to offer an opinion one way or the other.