can people from non-ABA schools transfer to ABA schools?
I know I'm responding to an old post, but I thought I would at least get this into the record.
At one point, I had planned to relocate for employment reasons, and for that reason, I inquired or applied at four schools in the Detroit area, all ABA:
- 1) University of Detroit-Mercy ("UDM"). Result: Accepted, but need to start over. Must apply as a new student, not as a transfer, but you would still indicate NSL on your application and have an official transcript sent.
- 2) Thomas Cooley School of Law (Lansing, MI). Result: Needed a "letter of good character" directly from Dean Loser to complete the application file. Beyond that, I understand that acceptance is almost automatic if your mathematical index (consisting of LSAT+undergrad GPA) is beyond a certain threshold and you don't have a criminal record. Again, you have to apply as a new student and start over. Since I decided to stay in TN, I did not bother calling Dean Loser.
Where things get curious are the next two:
- 3) Wayne State University (Detroit, MI): They will NOT accept applications as a new student because you've had prior law school experience. And they will NOT accept applications as a transfer student because your prior school was non-ABA. Even if it were possible to apply as a transfer student, they require a minimum 3.50 GPA performance from the prior law school.
- 4) Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI): See Wayne State. But MSU was at least up front about this policy, so that I did not have to waste time or money on an application. They expressly stated that they don't take students with prior law school experience as new students because they would be placed at an "unfair advantage" over incoming 1L's without the experience.
* * *
Bottom line is that you CAN go to an ABA school out of NSL, but you will likely have to start over, your undergrad GPA and LSAT still need to be high enough to meet the school's requirements, you may have to explain your NSL experiences on the essay portion of your application, and you may have to apply to more schools than you had originally planned. One other note: If the LSAT that you used for NSL is less than 2-3 years old, you may reuse the score at most schools (and thus not have to retake the exam). Some schools set the threshold at 5 years. You'll need to check with the Law School Admission Council to see if your LSDAS subscription is still good...in which case, the only additional cost you'll come up with is the $12 report fee.
One additional bit of advice: Don't apply to a school where they cannot provide an honest answer up front (BEFORE sending in the application) to the question of whether they will consider students with prior non-ABA law school experience. Wayne State gave only vague answers ("Send in your application as a transfer and we'll look at it"), only to refuse to consider the applications on the merits for the reasons stated above.
And a final note, at the risk of stating the obvious: If you transfer from NSL to an ABA school, expect your tuition costs to skyrocket. This is true even if you will still take law on a part-time or night school basis. UDM, for instance, was (I think) roughly $15,000 per year for their night program, and even now I'm not sure if it was per year or per semester. You may be able to get student loans to cover most of it (in contrast to informal month-to-month financing at NSL), but you will still be looking at some very serious debt.
All the best,