Saturday, March 18, 2017

Revisiting the Market for Transfer Students Based upon the 2016 Standard 509 Reports

This blog posting updates my blog postings of December 2014 and December 2015 regarding what we know about the transfer market. With the release of the 2016 Standard 509 Reports, we know have three years of more detailed transfer data from which to glean insights about the transfer market among law schools.

NUMBERS AND PERCENTAGES OF TRANSFERS – 2011-2016

The number of transfers dropped to 1749 in 2016, down from 1,979 in 2015, and from 2,187 in 2014 and 2,501 in 2013. The percentage of the previous fall’s entering class that engaged in the transfer market also dropped to 4.6%, the lowest it has been since 2011. In other words, there is no reason to believe the transfer market is “growing” as a general matter. It has been consistently in the 4.6% to 5.6% range for the last six years.

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Number of Transfers

2427

2438

2501

2187

1979

1749

Previous Year First Year Enrollment

52,500

48,700

44,500

39700

38600

37900

%   of Previous First-Year Total

4.6%

5%

5.6%

5.5%

5.2%

4.6%

SOME LAW SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE THE TRANSFER MARKET

The following two charts list the top 15 law schools participating in the transfer market in descending order in Summer 2014 (fall 2013 entering class), Summer 2015 (fall 2014 entering class), and Summer 2016 (fall 2015 entering class). One chart is based on “numbers” of transfers and the other chart is based on the number of transfer students as a percentage of the prior year’s first year class.

Note that in these two charts, the “repeat players” are bolded – those schools in the top 15 for all three years are in black, those schools in the top 15 for two of the three years are in blue.   Ten of the top 15 have been on the list all three years. The top six for 2016 have had pretty consistent transfers numbers for each of the last three years.

Largest Law Schools by Number of Transfers from 2013-2015

School

Number in 2014

School

Number in 2015

 

Number in 2016

Georgetown

113

Georgetown

110

Georgetown

111

George Wash.

97

George Wash.

109

George Wash

106

Arizona St.

66

Arizona St.

65

Arizona St.

66

Idaho

57

Harvard

55

Columbia

50

Cal. Berkeley

55

Emory

51

Emory

49

NYU

53

NYU

51

UCLA

43

Emory

50

Cal. Berkeley

49

Loyola Marymount

43

Columbia

46

Rutgers

45

NYU

43

American

44

Columbia

44

Florida

36

UCLA

44

Miami

44

Houston

36

Wash. Univ.

44

UCLA

43

Harvard

35

Texas

43

Texas

37

Cal. Berkeley

33

Minnesota

37

American

33

Miami

31

Northwestern

35

Florida St.

32

American

30

Harvard

33

Minnesota

31

Florida St.

30

 

817

 

799

 

741

 

37.4%

 

40.4%

 

42.3%

Largest Law Schools by Transfers as a Percentage of Previous First Year Class - 2014-2016

School

% 2014

School

% 2015

School

% 2016

Arizona State

51.6

Arizona State

45.5

Arizona State

30.3

Idaho

51.4

Emory

22.9

George Wash.

21.6

Washington Univ.

23.3

George Wash.

20.2

Emory

20.9

Emory

22.9

Miami

19.2

Georgetown

19.3

Georgetown

20.8

Georgetown

19

Florida St.

17.1

George Wash.

20.2

Cal. Berkeley

17.9

Houston

16.7

Cal. Berkeley

19.4

Florida St.

17

Loyola Marymount

16.0

Florida St.

18.2

Florida Int’l

16.7

Southern Cal

14.7

Rutgers – Camden

17.1

Minnesota

16.1

UCLA

14.7

Southern Cal.

17.1

Utah

16

UNLV

14.2

Minnesota

16.7

UNLV

14.3

Columbia

12.9

Utah

15.9

UCLA

13.7

SMU

12.0

Northwestern

15.3

Texas

12.3

Northwestern

11.8

UCLA

15

Chicago

12.1

Florida Int’l

11.8

Seton Hall

14.5

Rutgers

12.1

Florida

11.6

Interestingly, the number of law schools welcoming transfers representing more than 20% of their first-year class has fallen from nine in 2013 (not shown), to six in 2014, then to only three in 2015 and 2016.

Nonetheless, as shown in the following chart, we are continuing to see a modest increase in concentration in the transfer market between 2011 and 2016 as the ten law schools with the most students transferring in captured an increasing share of the transfer market, from 23.5% in 2011 to 33.3% in 2016. 

Top Ten Law Schools as a Percentage of All Transfers

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Total Transfers

2427

2438

2501

2187

1979

1749

Transfers to 10 Law Schools with Most Transfers

570

587

724

625

623

583

Transfers to 10 Law Schools with Most Transfers as % of Total Transfers

23.5%

24.1%

28.9%

28.6%

31.5%

33.3%

NATIONAL AND REGIONAL MARKETS

Starting in 2014, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar began collecting and requiring law schools with more than twelve transfers in to report not only the number of students who have transferred in, but also the law schools from which they came (indicating the number from each law school) along with the 75%, 50% and 25% first-year, law school GPAs of the students who transferred in. This allows us to look at where students are coming from and are going to and to look at the first-year GPA profile of students transferring in to different law schools. The following chart focuses on the ten law schools that have been among the top-15 in terms of transfers in for each of the last three years, presented in descending USNews ranking. It indicates the extent to which these law schools were attracting transfers from their geographic region and also identifies the law school(s) that provided the largest number of transfers to each listed law school in 2016 as well as the percentage of transfers that came from that school.

Percentage of Transfers from Within Geographic Region 2014-2016 and Top Feeder School(s) for 2016 at the Ten Law Schools Among the Top-15 for Transfers in 2014, 2015 and 2016

School

# of Transfers

2014/2015/2016

Region

Regional # of Transfers

14/15/16

Regional % of Transfers

14/15/16

School from Which Largest Number of Transfers Came in 2016

#/% of Transfers from Largest School 2016

Harvard

33/55/35

NE

6/15/13

18/27/37

GWU

3/9%

Columbia

46/44/50

NE

19/19/24

41/43/48

Fordham

6/13%

NYU

50/51/43

NE

20/15/16

40/29/37

Fordham/GWU

6/14%

Berkeley

55/49/33

CA

43/29/22

78/59/67

Santa Clara

5/15%

Georgetown

113/110/111

Mid-Atl

49/43/36

43/39/32

John Marshall

10/9%

UCLA

44/43/43

CA

31/26/25

70/60/58

Pepperdine/GWU

7/16%

Emory

53/51/49

SE

40/31/25

75/61/51

Atlanta’s   John

Marshall

11/22%

GWU

97/109/106

Mid-Atl

78/70/77

80/64/73

American

51/48%

Arizona St.

66/65/66

SW

51/48/57

77/74/86

Arizona Summit

48/73%

American

44/33/30

Mid-Atl

14/6/10

32/18/33

Univ. Dist. Col.

6/20%

For these top 10 law schools for transfer students in 2016, five law schools (Berkeley, UCLA, Emory, George Washington and Arizona State) obtained most of their transfers (51% or more) from within the geographic region within which the law school is located during each of the last three years. On the other hand, five law schools (Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Georgetown and American) had fewer than 49% of their transfers from within the region in which they are located in each of the last three years. 

Moreover, two of the ten law schools had a significant percentage of their transfers from one particular feeder school.  For George Washington, roughly 48% of its transfers came from American University, while for Arizona State, 73% of its transfers came from Arizona Summit.

The chart below shows the tiers of law schools from which these 10 law schools in the transfer market received their transfer students.  Five of the ten law schools that consistently have high numbers of transfers are ranked in the top 15 in USNews, while nine of the ten are ranked in the top 25. Only five had 75% or more of their transfers from schools ranked between 1 and 99 in the USNews rankings – Harvard, Columbia, NYU, UCLA and George Washington.  Two additional schools, Berkeley and Georgetown, had at least 50% of their transfers from law schools ranked between 1 and 99.  The remaining two law schools ranked in the top 25 in USNews (Emory and Arizona State), along with American, had at least half of their transfer students from law schools ranked 100 or lower, with two of those law schools (Arizona State and American) having 85% or more of their transfers from law schools ranked 100 or lower. 

 Percentage of Transfers from Different Tiers of School(s) for 2014, 2015 and 2016 at the Ten Law Schools Among the Top-15 for Transfers in 2014, 2015 and 2016

(Bolded data indicates the modal response for each law school.)

 

# of Trans

14/15/16

Top 50

# --------- %

14/15/16

51-99

# ------- %

14/15/16

100-200

# ------- %

14/15/16

Harvard

33/55/35

23/41/28

70/75/80

10/13/7

30/24/20

0/1/0

0/2/0

Columbia

46/44/50

29/30/33

63/68/67

14/10/16

30/23/33

3/4/1

7/9/2

NYU

50/51/43

41/40/35

82/78/81

7/10/8

14/20

2/1/0

4/2/0

Berkeley

55/49/33

17/15/11

31/31/33

27/26/8

49/53/24

11/8/14

20/16/42

Georgetown

113/110/111

27/30/32

24/27/29

38/30/41

34/27/37

48/50/38

42/45/34

UCLA

44/43/43

15/15/18

34/35/41

23/23/21

52/53/49

6/5/4

14/12/10

Emory

53/51/49

3/5/3

6/10/6

7/8/17

13/16/35

43/38/29

81/75/59

GWU

97/109/106

13/21/15

13/19/14

73/63/68

75/58/64

11/25/23

11/23/22

Arizona St.

66/65/66

4/0/3

6/0/5

5/6/7

8/9/11

57/59/56

86/91/85

American

44/33/30

2/0/0

5/0/0

14/1/2

32/3/7

28/32/28

64/97/93

If one focuses just on the reported GPAs from these ten schools, one quickly sees that the six law schools ranked in the USNews top-20 have a 50th GPA for transfers in 2016 that is a 3.6 or above (except for UCLA at 3.56), and a 25th GPA of 3.52 and above (except for NYU at 3.41). Once you drop out of the top-20, however, the other four law schools have a 75th GPA that drops below 3.5, a 50th GPA that drops below 3.3, and a 25th GPA that drops below 3.05 for three of the four law schools. Harvard clearly is accepting transfers who could have been admitted to Harvard in the first instance. While they make a less compelling case, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, Georgetown and UCLA likely are accepting transfers whose entering credentials largely would have made them possible candidates for acceptance at those law schools. By contrast, Emory, George Washington, Arizona State and American are welcoming as transfers students whose entering credentials likely are sufficiently distinct from each of those law schools’ entering class credentials that the transfers they are admitting would not have been admitted as first-year students in the prior year.

First-Year Law School 75th/50th/25th GPA of Transfers at the Ten Law Schools Among the Top-15 for Transfers in 2014, 2015 and 2016

 

GPA 75th

GPA 50th

GPA 25th

 

14/15/16

14/15/16

14/15/16

Harvard

3.95/3.98/4.0

3.9/3.92/3.94

3.83/3.85/3.88

Columbia

3.81/3.82/3.84

3.75/3.76/3.71

3.69/3.66/3.6

NYU

3.74/3.76/3.72

3.62/3.68/3

3.47/3.52/3.41

Berkeley

3.9/3.87/3.92

3.75/3.81/3.8

3.68/3.69/3.75

Georgetown

3.77/3.77/3.76

3.67/3.66/3.63

3.55/3.59/3.54

UCLA

3.73/3.7/3.67

3.58/3.58/3.56

3.44/3.46/3.52

Emory

3.42/3.45/3.41

3.27/3.3/3.16

2.93/3.06/3.02

GWU

3.53/3.46/3.45

3.35/3.32/3.26

3.21/3.15/3.14

Arizona St.

3.51/3.5/3.4

3.23/3.17/3.09

2.97/2.95/2.96

American

3.25/3.04/3.17

2.94/2.89/2.99

2.78/2.74/2.81

STILL MANY UNKNOWNS

As I noted in each of the last two years, the more detailed transfer data that law schools are now required to publish should be very helpful to prospective law students and pre-law advisors, and to current law students who are considering transferring.  The more detailed data give them a better idea of what transfer opportunities might be available depending upon where they go to law school (or are presently enrolled as a first-year student).

Even with this more granular data now available, however, there still are a significant number of unknowns relating to transfer students, regarding gender and ethnicity of transfer students and regarding performance of transfers students at their new law school (both academically and in terms of bar passage and employment).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwhiteboard/2017/03/this-blog-posting-updates-my-blog-postings-of-december-2014-and-december-2015-regarding-what-we-know-about-the-transfer-marke.html

Data on legal education, Scholarship on legal education | Permalink

Comments

How can the USNews ranking be so lame that they do not count the dilution in LSAT and GPA scores after the first year as a result of the huge migration from downstream schools?

Posted by: Bob Tompson | Mar 19, 2017 5:22:38 AM

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