1. The AMA is not a good example. They are rushing to add schools right now to meet the demand for doctors. I know 3 people applying for med school right now, all of them have great stats, but the process is so arbitrary because of the extremely limited seats. Also...the medical field is not an extreme meritocracy like law. You get your M.D., you have a job. Most people equate all M.D.'s, no one cares where you went to school.
2. Too many schools? Yes. But I don't think the answer is to just lop off the bottom 30. Most T3s and T4s are filling niche markets, and those markets would suffer if they were lopped off.
3. The idea that people with jobs from T4s are outliers is ridiculous. My friend graduated from Cooley last year, middle of his class, nothing outstanding. Got a job in Portland. Well paying? No. Better than most recent UG grads? Sure. 45k isn't a lot, but it is more than your average English major is going to make coming out of school.
4. For those working in the public sector, which is significantly higher among certain t3 and t4s, law school cost is moot, since the government caps your loan payments and forgives them after 10 years if you work in government.
5. There is WAY too much emphasis on this board (and in law itself) on school. I view law as, again, a meritocracy. To think that a 3.9, 175 LSAT, candidate will outperform a 3.0 155 makes a lot of sense. To say that that same high merit student wouldn't also do well if he/she went to a T3 is stickier. I mean, whats better, depending on your goals. Outside of big law, top of the class + law review editor at Gonzaga might have far better job prospects than bottom 20% at UW. I think the natural ability of the student has far more to do with success than the name on your diploma. It just so happens that most people with high stats go to higher ranked schools.
But... rather than look at stats, the law culture has turned to what school you went to as a placeholder. Therefore UW > Gonzaga institutionally (obviously.) But someone with a lot of natural ability that graduates from Gonzaga (writing, argument, networking, people skills, etc) in the top of their class would be able to have a great interview over someone from UW that sucks at life.
6. In conclusion: People with 2.0 and 150 LSAT that think they can compete with a T1 grad are kidding themselves. But discounting all T3 and T4 grads as sub-par is idiotic.