marburger06 wrote:Why has no one asked the OP what kind of publid interest work s/he wants to do? This makes a huge difference. OP, if you want the "cream of the crop" public interest jobs - ACLU, DOJ Honors, prestigious PD programs like DC's or Bronx Defenders - you should go to the highest ranked school that you can. Your increased chances of getting a job out of that school will be more worth it than the individual differences in LRAP programs (they all have LRAP; the quality of some is better than others, but combined with IBR you won't be starving on any of them).
The answer is much different if you want to work in a smaller non-profit, state government, or standard PD offices. Where your degree comes from doesn't matter as much in that situation, so you can be choosier with which schools have the best LRAP program.
In either case, wherever you end up, one of the most important things for getting these jobs is to show your commitment to whatever type of PI work you are pursuing. Look at schools where it's easier to extern or that have clinics with the subject that you're interested in. If the school doesn't have those things, start your own organization or make sure you do a ton of volunteer work on the side. Make connections with people in your desired field as early as possible, too.
All of this is good advice, but the idea that you would choose either the better ranked schools or the schools with the better LRAP is a little bit of a false choice; the best schools tend to have the best LRAPs.
Also, if you want to do "less prestigious" non-profit, state government, or less well-known DA/PDs offices, I think prestige matters less, but where you went is still important. The difference is they tend to favor local schools opposed to highly ranked ones. You can help this by spending a summer working in the area or, better yet, at the exact place you want to work. And obviously non-local students can get in, similar to the way DOJ doesn't take ONLY T14 students, but local helps a lot. I got interviews and offers at many of the traditionally "prestigious" places in NYC and DC and got shut out of every small market job I applied to (I'm including Boston as a small market here too since, for PI, they pretty much are).