4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

A forum for those current students who are or may be transferring from one school to another. Post any questions, advice, or other transfer related comments here.
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pwillis52

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4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby pwillis52 » Sat May 18, 2019 12:10 am

Hello all. I recently finished my 1L at Santa Clara Law with a 4.17 GPA - our grading scale calculates A's as 4.33. After reviewing Santa Clara's past GPA distributions, I believe that I will fall somewhere between first and third in my class of ~200, putting me in the top 1-2%.

Naturally, I'm putting a lot of thought into transferring and am hoping you all could help me determine (1) which schools I should submit transfer applications to and (2) whether a transfer is even worth it.

In regards to (1) and given my career/location interests, I would only transfer to a T14 in CA, DC, or NY, so I'll definitely apply to Berkeley, Stanford (longshot, I know), Georgetown, and maybe NYU and Columbia. What are my odds at these schools? Any other T14s where I have a shot?

In regards to (2), I want to work in biglaw in either privacy/cybersecurity or M&A; I have a great summer legal internship in-house at a top tech company in SF where I'll be able to gain exposure to both areas. And given my GPA, I should be able to interview with at least 10-15 biglaw firms that come to Santa Clara OCIs, many of which I've already built relationships with. So, is it even worth it to transfer? Things are going really well now and I think I've put myself in a great position to land a biglaw summer associate gig for next summer. Please convince me why I should forfeit my 50% scholarship at Santa Clara to pay T14 sticker, even though employment outcomes would look the same. In other words, is it not better to be a big fish in a small pond?

I'm really interested in hearing all your takes! Thank you! :)

albanach

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby albanach » Sat May 18, 2019 11:06 am

How risk adverse are you?

Advantage of a T14 is that it's easier to get big law, even if there's a recession. How was Santa Clara's placement numbers in 2010-13? That T14 will make exit to an in-house position easier, particularly if you find biglaw isn't for you and you want an earlier exit.

Take a look at the in-house counsel at the corporations you'd be interested in. Where were they educated? How long did they spend at firms before going in-house? Were their firms around the same caliber as recruit at SC's OCI?

Then weigh that information against your lower cost of attendance and make the call.

<3waitlists

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby <3waitlists » Sat May 18, 2019 12:42 pm

You should definitely transfer. Much better opportunities in the T13 (or T14) than where you are now. You're a lock at GULC and NYU. Columbia is probably a lock as well.

pwillis52

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby pwillis52 » Sat May 18, 2019 6:02 pm

<3waitlists wrote:You should definitely transfer. Much better opportunities in the T13 (or T14) than where you are now. You're a lock at GULC and NYU. Columbia is probably a lock as well.


Hmm. What do you mean "much better opportunities?" Roughly 10-15 biglaw firms visit Santa Clara's OCIs and it's my understanding that their cutoff is the top 10-15% of the 1L class, greatly reducing my competition. Obvi, an interview can always go bad, but given that I (1) am top 1-2%, (2) have a great legal internship for this summer, and (3) have lots of interview experience, I think that I have a really, really good chance of landing biglaw from Santa Clara's OCIs. And, from speaking to 2/3Ls, it seems that being in the top 5% makes a biglaw SA gig a near-lock.

So, how would participating in a T14 OCI, such as at Berkeley/GULC/NYU/Columbia, materially increase my odds of landing biglaw?

Perhaps I'm looking at this wrong? Is there something other that the "odds" of landing biglaw that I would get from an T14 OCI? Such as the type of firm or access to practice groups?

Lastly, one side question: assuming I do transfer to T14, would the fact that I transferred work against me in OCIs? For example, I can imagine a situation where a firm would rather hire a student who is top 40% of his/her class at a T14, rather than top 1% at Santa Clara.

Thanks! :)

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DuckDynasty

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby DuckDynasty » Sun May 19, 2019 1:31 am

pwillis52 wrote:
<3waitlists wrote:You should definitely transfer. Much better opportunities in the T13 (or T14) than where you are now. You're a lock at GULC and NYU. Columbia is probably a lock as well.


Hmm. What do you mean "much better opportunities?" Roughly 10-15 biglaw firms visit Santa Clara's OCIs and it's my understanding that their cutoff is the top 10-15% of the 1L class, greatly reducing my competition. Obvi, an interview can always go bad, but given that I (1) am top 1-2%, (2) have a great legal internship for this summer, and (3) have lots of interview experience, I think that I have a really, really good chance of landing biglaw from Santa Clara's OCIs. And, from speaking to 2/3Ls, it seems that being in the top 5% makes a biglaw SA gig a near-lock.

So, how would participating in a T14 OCI, such as at Berkeley/GULC/NYU/Columbia, materially increase my odds of landing biglaw?

Perhaps I'm looking at this wrong? Is there something other that the "odds" of landing biglaw that I would get from an T14 OCI? Such as the type of firm or access to practice groups?

Lastly, one side question: assuming I do transfer to T14, would the fact that I transferred work against me in OCIs? For example, I can imagine a situation where a firm would rather hire a student who is top 40% of his/her class at a T14, rather than top 1% at Santa Clara.

Thanks! :)


As a SCU alum who as a 1L was in the top 33% and landed big law, I want to dispel the myth that transferring provides "much better opportunities." SCU law has been known as a feeder to Berkeley Law, but the trade-off is a full-ride scholarship at SCU in exchange for a full-price tuition at Berkeley. Many in my section in my year made that transfer only to be saddled with more debt in exchange for marginally better job placement outcomes (e.g., V10/V50 firms in the Bay Area) had they stayed at SCU (less than a handful of V10s but mostly V50/V100). If you are in the top 1-2% of your class, you have great leverage to negotiate a tidy scholarship with SCU Law admin to get you to stay. But if your end game is WLRK or Cravath or some other big law firm in the NYC market, you're looking at the wrong schools on the wrong coast.

First, big law firms that participate in Santa Clara's OCIs do not have a strict cutoff, but it obviously helps if you're at least at the top half of the class. Students who head to T14 schools are a self-selecting bunch when it comes to big law. Many SCU students do not necessarily want to follow that well-beaten path, choosing public interest, in-house, DA, or PD work over big law. That being said and as a big law data point myself, big law firms won't steer clear of students based on a strict GPA cutoff. Sure, you might have a better chance of having a job handed to you at Berkeley, but big law firms love SCU students for their grit and hustle.

And second, plenty of factors go into an interviewer's decision to callback an interviewee -- geographical ties (especially if you want to stay in the Bay Area), desired practice, technical background (if Patent Pros/Lit), personality, "fit," etc. If you're getting screeners, then it means that big law firms' legal recruiting departments have no qualms with your credentials on paper. It's more about your interviewing skills, personality, and other intangibles that will make or break your callback chances. However, I have heard that transfer students do experience some sort of negative bias as opposed to home-grown students during OCIs.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun May 19, 2019 6:46 am

DuckDynasty wrote:Sure, you might have a better chance of having a job handed to you at Berkeley, but big law firms love SCU students for their grit and hustle.


And we all know that people get paid more because they didn't have the job "handed" to them.

Congrats on your success and the ensuing survivor bias. Comparing outcomes from Santa Clara (even for the top third) to outcomes from a T13 school is irresponsible.

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GFox345

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby GFox345 » Sun May 19, 2019 9:37 am

Berkeley offers "marginally better outcomes" than SCU? Come on, man. I've seen some pro alma matter zealotry in my time, but that's just ridiculous. Absolutely transfer to Berkeley. It's not a question.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby janereacher » Sun May 19, 2019 10:15 am

albanach wrote:How risk adverse are you?

Advantage of a T14 is that it's easier to get big law, even if there's a recession.


This. I'm not in exactly the same boat as I am a prospective T1 transfer, but I've come around to the idea of making law school choices based on protecting against the worse case scenario. As a non-risk averse person, I ignored the "go to the highest ranked school you get into" advice and eschewed the T14 for a regional school. Things majorly changed in my personal life and my regional school is on a downward trend. I'm transferring because I now get that putting yourself in a situation that gives you the best opportunities given how unpredictable life can be is a good way to approach law school. At the very least, apply to Berkeley, Stanford, Georgetown, and Harvard. They all give need-based aid so you may not even end up any worse financially in that regard. Throw in NYU and Columbia and you're talking $800 in app fees. Well worth the long-term peace of mind IMO.

pwillis52

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby pwillis52 » Sun May 19, 2019 11:20 am

GFox345 wrote:Berkeley offers "marginally better outcomes" than SCU? Come on, man. I've seen some pro alma matter zealotry in my time, but that's just ridiculous. Absolutely transfer to Berkeley. It's not a question.


Why? Given that I have a very good shot at landing biglaw in my current position at SCU, what can Berkeley do for me that SCU can't?

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby aj1221 » Sun May 19, 2019 2:16 pm

As someone who has gone through this process (and transferred) if you're 100% dead set on just doing M&A and staying in the Bay area, a case can be made that sticking put may make more sense. For example, if you're not going to get any $ from your transfer school and will get a full ride at Santa Clara for 2 years. Especially since no firm in the bay area is going to auto reject you from their M&A team with your grades. I am assuming here that you want to practice in the bay area; if that's not correct there's no case for Santa Clara nad you should definitely transfer even for M&A.

If you're serious about privacy/cybersecurity, lit or any other type of legal practice (or have any interest in any sort of PI/academic/unicorny jobs) then you should definitely transfer. For example, privacy teams at most firms are tiny right now (though growing) and hard to break into. You have a much higher chance of doing that from HYS + B in the Bay Area (not sure about CCN in the Bay Area market - no direct evidence on that point, maybe someone else can chime in).

As a last point, you will be treated marginally different from the native students for purposes of OCI for those firms that don't normally take Santa Clara students because they're not sure how to weigh your 1L grades against the native students. But, your opportunities will not be lower than if you stay put. In my transfer class every student was able to obtain an SA they wanted in the market they wanted (though not necessarily the specific firm). Several students were able to get SAs they would not have gotten from their 1L school.

Feel free to PM if you have any other transfer-specific Qs.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby QContinuum » Tue May 21, 2019 1:19 pm

DuckDynasty wrote:Many in my section in my year made that transfer only to be saddled with more debt in exchange for marginally better job placement outcomes (e.g., V10/V50 firms in the Bay Area) had they stayed at SCU (less than a handful of V10s but mostly V50/V100).

Assuming the above is true (including the inherent assumption that those transfers would've landed V50/100 firms out of SCU had they stayed put instead of transferring), there is still more than a "marginal" difference between the V10/50 and V50/100. Just as with economic inequality in the population at large, the most successful law firms are increasingly pulling away from the rest of the pack, and the bottom of the V100/AmLaw 100 are increasingly struggling. We've already seen this in recent years with the AmLaw 200, and there is every sign that this is now reaching up into the latter half of the AmLaw 100.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby dabigchina » Tue May 21, 2019 1:26 pm

SCU grads with grades like yours do fine recruiting in the bay area. If they give you a shitload if money to stay, I wouldn't do it.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue May 21, 2019 1:54 pm

Many people (foolishly) go to law school with the intent of transferring. That said, you did so well in LS that you have the ability to transfer to almost any school in the country. If you have time, it would be helpful for you to publish a breakdown of what you did to do that well in LS so students going to Santa Clara with the intent of being in your position can assess how realistic that goal actually is.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby QContinuum » Tue May 21, 2019 2:25 pm

LSATWiz.com wrote:Many people (foolishly) go to law school with the intent of transferring. That said, you did so well in LS that you have the ability to transfer to almost any school in the country. If you have time, it would be helpful for you to publish a breakdown of what you did to do that well in LS so students going to Santa Clara with the intent of being in your position can assess how realistic that goal actually is.

On the flip side, it's possible that OP is just one of those lucky souls who're "born ready" for law school, and ace 1L without doing anything materially different from their classmates. If so, their experience would not actually be helpful to 0Ls intending to ace 1L and transfer.

Just as with life in general, law school isn't always fair. There are folks who work their asses off and end up at the bottom of the pack grades-wise. There are folks who juice their Netflix subscription to the max and party every weekend and don't even crack open their casebooks until a week or two before finals and still get straight As.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby nrthwst4now » Tue May 21, 2019 9:51 pm

Transfer to Harvard.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby hopesprings1 » Wed May 22, 2019 2:52 am

I was in a similar situation to you last year. But at a different school with a similar rank. I was accepted as a transfer to H, S, B, C, G. I ultimately regret transferring. I gave up a full ride and am now at the bottom of my class as a transfer. I also struck out at OCI. It is much better to be a big fish in a small pond and have professors willing to go to bat for you.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby QContinuum » Wed May 22, 2019 3:12 pm

hopesprings1 wrote:I was in a similar situation to you last year. But at a different school with a similar rank. I was accepted as a transfer to H, S, B, C, G. I ultimately regret transferring. I gave up a full ride and am now at the bottom of my class as a transfer. I also struck out at OCI. It is much better to be a big fish in a small pond and have professors willing to go to bat for you.

Where'd you transfer to, though? And how did you bid - were you "V10-focused" (using "V10" as a rough proxy here for selectivity)? Would be very surprised if you struck out from Stanford with a decent bidlist. (Much less surprised if you struck out from Georgetown with a V10-focused bidlist.)

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby nleefer » Fri May 24, 2019 2:11 pm

I recommend transferring. I was basically you some years back: 4.2 gpa at SCU after 1L. I ended up transferring to Berkeley and it was a fantastic decision. Yes, I ended up with more debt, but was basically guaranteed a big law job where I paid it off quickly. Transfer also opens up other doors like clerkships and academia that just aren’t available at SCU. Looking down the line, the law school you graduate from matters a lot for lateral job moves.

As for your chances, you will very likely get into Berkeley. Stanford is a long shot (I didn’t get in). NYU and Columbia are also real possibilities. I’d also think you have a decent shot at Harvard, though you said you’re don’t want to go to that area. In my view Georgetown doesn't measure up to your other options.

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Re: 4.17 at Santa Clara: Should I transfer? If so, where?

Postby thebox » Fri May 24, 2019 9:30 pm

QContinuum wrote:
hopesprings1 wrote:I was in a similar situation to you last year. But at a different school with a similar rank. I was accepted as a transfer to H, S, B, C, G. I ultimately regret transferring. I gave up a full ride and am now at the bottom of my class as a transfer. I also struck out at OCI. It is much better to be a big fish in a small pond and have professors willing to go to bat for you.

Where'd you transfer to, though? And how did you bid - were you "V10-focused" (using "V10" as a rough proxy here for selectivity)? Would be very surprised if you struck out from Stanford with a decent bidlist. (Much less surprised if you struck out from Georgetown with a V10-focused bidlist.)


As a counterpoint, I also decided to transfer to one of H/Y/S and am very happy that I did. Based on what I understand the H to P distribution to be for the top students here, I've remained at the very top of the class. I've also formed great relationships with professors for clerkships. All this to say, outcomes are person-dependent, but I think on average you're better off transferring.



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