26 July 2013

Why I transferred

When I was in the process of making my decision whether to transfer law schools, I decided I would eventually publish my reasons for making that decision. I also decided that I would wait until I was accepted and enrolled at the new school before I make the blog post. Now that I have enrolled at UM Carey Law, here are my reasons.

1. Better positioned to take the bar in Maryland. Although I'm not a big fan of the state of Maryland in general and don't necessarily want to stay here forever, I do expect that we will be here for the near future. As a result, I have always planned on taking the bar exam in Maryland. Getting my law degree from one of the two Maryland schools (University of Maryland or University of Baltimore) would better prepare me for that opportunity because both schools have Maryland-specific courses.

2. Better opportunities to network in the Maryland legal community. Because there are only two law schools in Maryland (and within a mile or so of each other), there are likely better opportunities for me to network in the Maryland legal community. While I'm currently working full-time with no expectations of leaving my job for a law job that may or not be there, it cannot hurt me to network within the very community that I will eventually hope to practice in.

3. Both Maryland schools have appellate practice clinics that work in Maryland courts. While I have made no decisions about what areas of law I'd like to practice, I have taken a special interest in appellate advocacy. Both Maryland schools have appellate advocacy clinics that argue cases in front of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. This an opportunity that would not have existed for me at UDC.

4. Frankly, Maryland is a considerably better ranked school. While the US News rankings are not the be-all and end-all of rankings, they mean something. Transferring from a tier four (essentially, an unranked school) to a tier one school (top 50) school is a no-brainer if you have the opportunity, especially when tuition is not a factor due to the post-9/11 GI Bill. The University of Maryland also has one of the top ten part time/evening programs.

5. Disorganized administration at UDC. It is unfortunate, but the administration at UDC is highly disorganized. Many current students will admit this as a matter of course. They also have come to expect it and largely shrug it off as what to expect at a low-tuition law school. With a few exceptions, I have kept my criticisms of UDC to myself and my fellow students. It is not worth the time to list all of the issues. Just trust me on this one--it can be maddening at times (consider this--an open-ended, one credit class where the professor just randomly assigns things that were never on the original syllabus). I'd rather concentrate on my classes and not have to worry about whether the school is doing things right.

Other students choose to move on. I know of at least a half dozen students in the same boat as myself who have decided to transfer. I suspect the actual number is considerably higher. We had an incoming class of about 70 students last August. With those that are transferring and those that dropped out along the way, I will be very interested to see how many of those 70 students return next month. I wouldn't surprised to see 25% or even more who fail to return.

6. Location. From home or work to UDC, I had about a 75 minute commute (driving and Metro). On some days, I left for work before 5AM and didn't get home until 10PM. Maryland is considerably closer and will be something like a 20-30 minute commute in total. More time to spend with the family. That's always a win.
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