For Transfer & Special Status Applicants

Advanced standing students come from law schools across the country and make a substantial and welcome contribution to Berkeley Law's student body. Applicants are considered for the fall term only and admission decisions usually are made in early July. The application filing period is April 1 - June 15, but applicants are encouraged to submit complete applications as early as possible. 

There are two categories of advanced standing, transfer and special status. Information about each category follows:

TRANSFER STUDENTS

Transfer students come to Berkeley after their first year in a full-time program elsewhere, complete their last two years here, and then receive a Berkeley Law degree. When we review transfer applications, we focus on the applicant's performance during the first year of law school. Admission is very competitive. We usually receive more than 200 applications for about 25-35 places in our second-year class, and successful transfer applicants usually come from the top 3-5 percent of their respective home law school classes. The exact number of transfer places available may vary from year to year.

Although Berkeley Law has thirteen student-run law reviews and journals, only one of them, the California Law Review (CLR), runs a write-on competition for transfer students in mid-July (you may join the other twelve simply by volunteering). This year, the competition tentatively will begin on Thursday, July 10 and end on Saturday, July 19. Successful applicants will be expected to attend a CLR orientation on Sunday, August 24. Any potential transfer student may take part in the write-on regardless of whether he or she has yet been accepted or committed to Berkeley Law. Those who wish to compete should contact the CLR Development Editors at clrwriteon@gmail.com on or before July 3. For more information, please visit the CLR website

If you are admitted as a transfer student, you also should be aware that the bidding process for our early on-campus interview program (EIW) begins on July 21, that interviews are conducted beginning August 4, and that regular classes begin after EIW in late August. If you miss the bidding deadline, you will not be able to participate in the lottery for interviews. Therefore, the application and review process is intense.  Time is of the essence.

A law student who has completed one year at another law school may apply for transfer status to enter the second-year class if:

  • Before law school, a bachelor's degree or the equivalent was awarded by an approved college or university
  • The first-year curriculum was completed in a full-time program at a law school that is approved by the American Bar Association (we do not admit part-time students unless they have completed the entire first-year curriculum) 
  • A minimum of 28 semester units was completed at the time of our review
  • The work for which transfer credit is sought is of very high quality
  • The student was not placed on probation nor disqualified.

A maximum of 32 units completed elsewhere will be accepted toward a Berkeley J.D. degree, although students who have completed more units may apply. Berkeley Law School reserves the right to prescribe further conditions for granting of such credit.

If you are admitted as a transfer student and wish to enroll, you must commit in writing and withdraw your transfer applications from all other schools. In order to participate in Berkeley's Early Interview Week, you must also certify that you are not participating, and will not participate, in any other law school's on-campus interview program. A false certification will be considered a violation of the Student Honor Code. 

Order of the Coif

The Order of the Coif is a national honor society for law school graduates who attended member schools.  Each year it extends invitations to the top 10% of Boalt's graduating J.D. students by grade point average.  GPA is determined by multiplying the point value of each grade received in a Boalt course (HH = 5 points, H = 3, P = 2) by the units given for that course, and dividing the sum of the products by each student's total number of graded units. No application is necessary, although students should make sure that their final transcripts are accurate. Third-year Boalt students must have at least 75% of the total credits needed to graduate in graded courses. At a minimum, graduates must therefore have 64 graded credits by the end of their third year. Non-Boalt and non-law courses are not counted into the GPA.  Students who have obtained a substantial number of ungraded credits (through journal work, moot court participation, and the like) and who aspire to Coif membership should pay careful attention to the number of graded units they will have at the completion of their studies. Only graded courses are counted in determining final GPA. As students consider classes, they should keep in mind that some of our clinics are offered for credit/no credit, while others are offered for a grade. Students who would like to be eligible for Order of the Coif should pay close attention to which clinics they choose to take and any impact that decision might have on the total number of graded units they have. Students who spend a semester or two studying at an institution other than Boalt (e.g., Harvard Exchange, transfer, or joint degree students) will compete for Coif admission based entirely on their Boalt grades and must earn at least 64 graded units at Boalt.

Transfer Applicants Must Submit the Following:

  • An electronic application form through Law Services submitted between April 1-June 15 
  • $75.00 application fee
  • A 2-4 page personal statement and a resume
  • CAS report from Law Services
  • Two recommendations from law professors. Ideally, these should be included with your CAS report. Letters sent after the deadline may be provided via email as attachments to admissions@law.berkeley.edu
  • A home law school transcript, or an individual grade report that includes final spring term grades, sent directly to admissions@law.berkeley.edu or faxed to (510) 643-6222. DO NOT send your law school transcript to Law Services. We will accept a student copy of your spring term grades to expedite the review process, but a final official transcript must follow if you are admitted.
  • Financial aid applicants should follow the instructions provided to first-year applicants   

Transfer–Frequently Asked Questions

Is there anything I can do during my first year to enhance my transfer application?
Earn excellent grades during your first year. The predominant focus of our transfer review process is academic performance during the first year of law school.

When should I apply? What is the deadline?
We accept transfer applications from April 1-June 15. Assuming you applied for first-year status in the past year, your Law Services subscription should still be active. Early application is encouraged to ensure that all documents are processed expeditiously by LSAC. Refer to the transfer checklist above for specific information on what you need to submit. Supporting documents (spring grades, recommendations, etc.) may arrive after our deadline, but be forewarned that almost all of our decisions will have been made by the second week in July. Admission decisions cannot be made until after spring grades are reported. You may fax your spring grade report to us at (510) 643-6222.

How many transfer applications are received? How many places are available?
We usually receive approximately 200 transfer applications each year. The number of places available in the second-year class varies from year to year.

May part-time students apply?
We offer only a full-time program. By definition, transfer students are full-time, second-year students. Students who are enrolled in a part-time program do not have sufficient credits to transfer. Because our decisions are released in early July, it is not possible for part-time students who are enrolled in summer courses to apply in the same year.

I attend a law school that is not approved by the American Bar Association. Can I apply?
We only accept transfer credits from law schools that are fully- or provisionally-approved by the American Bar Association.

Does involvement in extracurricular activities (such as volunteering with a law-related nonprofit) as a 1L enhance my transfer chances?
Outside activities will enhance your chances if your first-year grades are also strong. Extracurricular activities do not substitute for strong academic performance.

How high does my class rank need to be in order to transfer? 
In general, successful transfer applicants come from the top 3-5 percent of their first-year classes.

What should I highlight in my personal statement?
We recommend a 2-4 page personal statement in which you provide some insight on your background and your potential contribution to classroom dialogue and scholarly research. An indication of why you wish to transfer to Berkeley may be included, but it is not required. Please include a current resume. 

From whom should I get letters of recommendation? 
We ask for two letters from first-year faculty members. More than two letters is discouraged.

Are you able to get the classes you want considering that transfers sign up after all the other 2Ls?
In general, yes. The faculty reserves seats in their classes for new transfer students.

How many units do you take the first semester at Berkeley Law?
This depends on the individual and on how many units are transferred in. We require 85 units to graduate; on average the unit load is 13-14 units.

How does being a transfer affect Early Interview Week (EIW)?   
You are not at a disadvantage as a transfer student. Our transfers have done well in the job market and have been pleased with the opportunities afforded them at Berkeley Law. An advantage to Berkeley Law's Early Interview Week program (in which hundreds of employers participate) is that employers do not pre-screen students and designate the candidates they want to interview. Rather, interviews are assigned through a bidding and randomized assignment process. In addition, as a transfer student, your superior academic performance at your former school and the initiative you have demonstrated by transferring to Berkeley Law are attributes that are meaningful and attractive to employers. Feel free to contact one of the Career Development Office's attorney-counselors for advice about your specific circumstances.

Can transfer students be on moot court teams or trial teams in their 2L year?
Yes.

When does the write-on competition happen for journals?
Berkeley Law has thirteen student-run law reviews and journals. Students may join any twelve of them simply by volunteering. The California Law Review (CLR) runs a Write-On for transfer students in mid-July. The transfer Write-On will begin on Thursday, July 10 and end on Saturday, July 19. Successful applicants will be expected to attend a CLR orientation on Sunday, August 24. Any potential transfer student may take part in the write-on regardless of whether he or she has yet been accepted or committed to Berkeley Law. 

Those who wish to write-on must contact the CLR Development Editors at clrwriteon@gmail.com on or before July 3. You may visit the CLR website for more information. 

Are transfers welcomed at Berkeley Law?
Most definitely! In fact, transfer students not only integrate quickly but often become some of our top students.

Do you have any general housing advice?
Because the transfer admission process concludes only about five weeks before classes begin, it is imperative that transfer students make their enrollment decision quickly. There are many housing resources available, both through the University's Housing Office and from online services, like craigslist.com. We release all of our transfer admission decisions in early July. It is rare that new transfer students are without housing by the time we begin classes in August.

Other questions? 
Contact Admissions:  510-642-2274 or admissions@law.berkeley.edu.
Contact Financial Aid: 510-642-1563 or financial-aid@law.berkeley.edu.

SPECIAL STATUS STUDENTS 

We typically receive 25-30 applications for the five places available for special status students, who spend their third year at Berkeley as visitors and receive their law degree from their school of origin. Special status admission is available to students who have completed two years of high quality work at their home law school and who demonstrate a compelling need to spend their final year at Berkeley. Applicants are expected to explain their compelling need in the personal statement. Examples of compelling need may include a medical condition, a family emergency, or to be with a spouse. Special status is not granted to fulfill individual academic interests. 

The applicant's home law school must provide notice to accept work satisfactorily completed at Berkeley as credit toward the student's law degree.  In addition, second-year law students will be considered for special status only if:

  • Before law school, a bachelor's degree or the equivalent was awarded by an approved college or university;
  • Two years of a law school curriculum were completed in a full-time program at an American Bar Association-approved law school;
  • The student was not placed on probation nor was disqualified.

The application filing period is April 1 - June 15.

Special Status Applicants Must Submit the Following

  • An electronic application form through Law Services between April 1-June 15
  • A $75.00 application fee
  • A 2-4 page personal statement and a resume
  • Two recommendations from law professors sent directly to admissions@law.berkeley.edu 
  • A letter from the home law school confirming acceptance of third-year coursework completed at Berkeley Law
  • A home law school transcript that includes second-year, spring-term grades   

Special Status-Frequently Asked Questions

When should I apply? What is the deadline?
Special status applications may be submitted April 1-June 15. An early application is encouraged to ensure the timely processing of all documents. Supporting documents (i.e., spring grades and recommendations) may arrive after the deadline. Note that most of our decisions will have been made by early July.  Decisions cannot be made until after spring grades are reported. Time is of the essence. Applicants may fax their spring grade reports to (510) 643-6222 to expedite the process.

How many special status applications for third-year visitors are received? How many places are available?
On average, we receive 20-25 applications for five visitor places. Admission is based almost solely on a compelling need to be at Berkeley.

What should I highlight in my personal statement?
Special status applicants should discuss their compelling need to attend Berkeley Law in their personal statements. We recommend including a current resume. 

From whom should I get letters of recommendation? 
We suggest two letters from faculty at your home law school.

Do you have any general housing advice?
Because the admission process concludes about five weeks before classes begin, it is imperative that new admits make their enrollment commitment quickly. There are many housing resources available, both through the University's Housing Office and through online services, like craigslist.com. We attempt to release all of our admission decisions by early July. It is rare that new students are without housing by the time we begin classes in August.

Other questions? 
Contact Admissions:  510.642.2274 or admissions@law.berkeley.edu.
Contact Financial Aid:  510.642.1563 or financial-aid@law.berkeley.edu