I didn't get into a t-14 school, but I also think I'll end up with a legal job. I don't think I'll get paid 160k a year, but I've gotten 2/3 tuition scholarships from most schools I've been accepted to--these schools are in the 70-80 range for rankings. I also think that people like myself who actually have experience will fare better than others when seeking jobs. I've done two internships in Washington, DC and have done two internships with the legislature in my state. All of these internships have allowed me to gain valuable experience and I've gotten excellent references from everyone I've worked for. I think it goes a long way when a person is hired for competitive internships and succeeds in them. I understand that these are just internships, but I think the references will go a long way, especially since being an intern in my small state's understaffed legislature is the equivalent of being a legislative aid in most other states.
Perhaps someone would like to disagree with me. I just think that prior experience and good references will definitely give people like me the leg up over the person who hasn't worked for four years and went straight into law school and has nothing to show for it.
One would like to think that employers look at prior experience, and rightly so. A T-14 grad who has never been able to stay at one job for more than 6 months may not be the best person to hire - whereas a grad from a lower-ranked school who has excelled at every job they have ever had and gotten stellar references from all of their employers may be the better candidate.
But I am beginning to lose faith in the process. Listening to people on this board, no one really cares about anything but the school you went to, and your class ranking. Perhaps they don't want people with prior professional experience because we are not as malleable?