OP: Promise me that you will not make a law school decision on either;
1 - Emory's possible rise in future reputation
2 - Uneducated people's reactions in social circumstances
I wish I could make that promise, but I went to a UG and Grad Program that both were really good and have done me well but get sort of odd responses when mentioned. Emory, to me in New England, is like a Pomona: if you are aware of schools you know it is great; otherwise, you have never heard of it. Tulane, on the other hand, has the popular culture references and New Orleans mystique. So while I am leaning towards making my decision based on job prospects, where Emory wins, my previous experiences leave me somewhat hesitant.[/quote]
I think the most intelligent and well thought out response to the question of where to go to school can be summed up fairly succinctly. Balance a school that you would be happy graduating at the median of the class with the scholarship $ offered. While you are not speaking specifically about ranking/performance, integrating a rise in prestige/ranking with your decision is probably not a good idea.
As far as lay prestige. It is unimportant to job prospects, which ITE should be what you are looking at. So, two conflicting answers on where you should ultimately consider, Emory vs. Tulane, but both of which you should think about.