Transfer admissions is an opportunity for rising 2L students to join the Harvard Law School community after completing their 1L year at another law school. We encourage all interested and eligible applicants to apply.
The transfer application typically opens up in early May and the submission deadline is usually in mid-June. We aim to notify transfer applicants of their admission decision in early July.
Applicants for transfer admission must meet the following criteria:
- Applicants have completed one year of full-time study in a J.D. program (or one-third of the total credits required in a part-time program) at a United States law school.
- Applicants attend a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Applicants are not eligible for transfer admission if they have completed more than one-third of the total credits required for the J.D. program in which they are currently enrolled. Students may apply for transfer to begin the second year of J.D. studies in the fall semester only. Additionally, students are required to spend at least two years in residence at HLS.
Current LL.M. (Masters of Laws) students are not eligible to transfer to the J.D. program at HLS. Current and former LL.M. students interested in applying for the J.D. program at HLS should instead apply through the regular J.D. application pathway.
|Application Opens||Submission Deadline||Decision Release|
|Monday, May 1, 2023||Monday, June 12 @ 12:00 p.m. (Noon)||Early July 2023|
Number of Undergrad Institutions 79
Number of 1L Law Schools 47
Selection Process for Transfer Admission
Successful transfer candidates have excelled academically in their 1L year and often place near the top of their first-year law class. All applications are reviewed according to the Harvard Law Standards for Admission. Given the small number of transfer spaces available and a comparatively large and accomplished transfer applicant pool, some applicants who meet these characterizations cannot be offered admission. We cannot make estimates of an individual’s chances for admission.
Transfer Law Courses
Law courses taken before matriculation at Harvard Law School will be considered part of the transfer student’s first year of J.D. studies and may not be used to meet any Harvard Law School upper-level requirements. Additionally, courses taken during your 1L year will not be included in HLS Latin honors calculations.
Transfer students must satisfy the Law School’s first-year requirements by demonstrating completion of comparable courses at their prior institution or completion of qualifying courses after matriculation at HLS. The Harvard Law School Office of the Registrar can advise students on comparable courses.
Law courses taken at HLS by the transfer student–including first-year Law School courses and qualifying courses taken after matriculation to bring the transfer student into compliance with the School’s first-year requirements–may be used toward the upper-level credit requirements. Additionally, such law courses will count in overall performance in the 2L or 3L year according to the rules set forth in the Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies.
Harvard Law Review
The Harvard Law Review encourages transfer applicants to apply for membership on the Review. If you wish to be considered for membership, you must participate in the Writing Competition at the same time as HLS 1Ls in May. Registration for the competition typically opens in April. Instructions on taking the Writing Competition may be found in Writing Competition section of the website.
Prospective 1L transfer students should email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Recognizing that the competition schedule poses unique challenges to prospective transfer applicants, the Review also allows transfer students to take the competition at the end of their 2L year. However, no student may attempt the competition more than once, and this option is only available to transfer students who did not previously take the competition.
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau
All transfer applicants are encouraged to apply to the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB). To be considered for membership, each transfer applicant is required to submit a modified application and participate in a round of interviews.
Transfer applicants who wish to receive an application should write to HLABmembership2023@gmail.com by June 6, 2023, when we will send out our application to any interested transfers. The application will be due on June 16, and we will read apps and conduct video interviews accordingly after that.
If admitted to both the law school and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, each transfer student will be required to attend orientation and training in Cambridge, MA in late August. Please see the HLAB Membership and Application Process webpage for more information.
Transfer Blog Posts
The HLS Transfer Community
The transfer law student community was recently featured in Harvard Law Today. Read the story below.
October 6, 2022
Should I Stay or Should I Go? Advice About Transferring After the 1L Year
Assistant Dean for Admissions Kristi Jobson joined a virtual panel with current student Susan and HLS alum Paras (both transferred to HLS after their 1L year) to discuss the considerations that many law students face when deciding to transfer law schools.
June 10, 2022
Choosing to Transfer to HLS
Susan, a rising 3L who joined HLS after 1L year, reflects on the considerations she grappled with before ultimately choosing to transfer law schools, and on the meaningful opportunities she has found here.
June 8, 2022
Joining the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) as a Transfer Student
Rising 3L Sara shares her experience transferring to Harvard Law School, and joining the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.
May 24, 2022