Harvard Law School welcomes a number of transfer students to campus each summer. We recently spoke with 2L Ama Doyal on her experience transferring to HLS, and on the highlights from her 2L year.
Why did you transfer to Harvard Law School?
As my first year at HLS is coming to a close with COVID-19 affecting the world, I still believe that my decision to transfer to HLS was the right one. I entered law school blind, being a first-generation student, and I found myself searching for something more than just classes. When I decided to transfer after my 1L year, I was very scared to relinquish my path, one that took tremendous effort to create and which was painstakingly made. The professors, friends, and connections would have to be recreated from zero.
I found my 1L law school lacking in the robust campus life that I had wanted. This and an interest in academia really fueled my decision to transfer. I think that in the end the benefits outweighed the things that scared me so that I’d take that leap of faith. I’m so glad I did as it’s been an amazing year!
What was the transition to virtual classes like?
I think first, it was very sudden. There was a lot of waiting and then decisions were made and people were leaving. Students were returning home and I was suddenly packing up my dorm room. It was an incredibly sober moment. I wasn’t sure how life at Harvard would continue as a student. Luckily, I have some of the best friends and our engagement groups at HLS really made an effort to stay involved. I’ve been to many game nights, happy hours, and even professional development lectures in the time since we switched to remote learning. My classes continued and my teachers found their stride. I think being in a clinic this semester was fantastic. It provided real clients to push myself for even when I was at home every day.
What is the biggest misconception about being a transfer at HLS?
Coming in, I think I was worried about other students and professors treating us transfers differently the most. However, I’m happy to say I found just the opposite. Transfers are really embraced with open arms at HLS and I’ve found that many of my colleagues and professors are impressed with transfers rather than the opposite. There is very little distinction between transfer students and those who resided in Section 1 through Section 7. We have our own Section 8 group which does a lot of programming that you might have typically missed during 1L and creates a bond between the 2L and 3L transfer classes. Section 8 does a lot of academic programming and social events and I’m really excited to be one of the social chairs for next year to keep the traditions alive.
Can you tell us one happy memory from moving in?
The day I moved to Cambridge was rainy and soaking wet. I moved into my apartment with another transfer student. That night as I prepared for transfer orientation, four of us students congregated in my room as we talked about who the best professors were and which firms we were preferencing. Two of us were transfers and the other two had been through 1L at Harvard, but we all were nervous for the Early Interview Program (EIP) and eager for the coming semester. I hadn’t realized at the time that these four friends would stay with me though my HLS experience and that our weekly lunches would be something I looked forward to.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is considering applying to HLS?
I think the biggest piece of advice I have is to apply. I know so many of us were concerned or thought we might not get in, but we wouldn’t have this great opportunity if we hadn’t taken that gamble in the first place. There is a lot of posturing on grades and internships and it really becomes a numbers game to a lot of people. However, with the interviews and info sessions, I felt like the process was holistic and admissions did a great job in assembling a fantastic group. The only way to ensure you aren’t in that group is to not apply.
Ama Doyal is a current 2L who transferred to Harvard Law School after her 1L year. At HLS, she is actively involved in the International Human Rights Clinic, the Harvard Business Law Review, and the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA).