I found this information from the article posted above to be especially instructive:
Below school No. 28 (University of Southern California), a graduate has a less than one in five probability of starting his or her career a large law firm. If 80% of law school applicants are convinced that they will make that 20% cutoff, three out of four are destined to be disappointed. With these numbers, does it really make economic sense to go to the highest-ranked school one can get into? In many cases, the answer is no.
Also found this to be instructive:http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/composite.pdf
1. In which markets/regions do I want to practice?
2. Do I like a particular school in a preferred region, and is it one of the top 3 schools in its market?
3. Did I get accepted?
4. Is the money good?
5. If yes to questions 2,3 and 4, then that school is one of my top choices. If not, I move on.
Hmm.. This chart seems to add something to my argument... Anyway....
Here are the facts. Place aside the top 30 and focus on the rest. Cardozzo (a top 55) places roughly 10% in biglaw. SJU and BLS place close to what 8% in a good economy? NYLS, a festering TTT places what 4 to 6%? The fact of the matter is that if you are outside of that group, you're in the same boat. You are hoping, begging and scrounging for Midlaw jobs (which are VERY hard to find), or State agencies (also very hard to get). The simple fact of the matter is that unless you're in one of the top groups from a non T30 school, you're VERY similarly situated upon graduation when its time to find a job. You can call me an asshole, a jerkoff, a meanie-head, or any other number of things, but the fact of the matter is that I'm right. You can pull 50,000 different charts and statistics, etc., but it does not change anything.
As an aside, I'm not telling people to not attend law school. That happens to be a very personal decision that people should make on their own. I did not attend a top law school. However, I worked very hard in college to make connections by working in a great firm, which eventually lead to further connections, which eventually led to a job which was way beyond the scope of jobs that was available to most of my fellow graduates form my LS. I'm sorry to say, I have many friends that graduated from much higher ranked schools, that simply have not done so well.
20 years ago, the USNWR did not rank schools beyond the top 20 or so. Thats because the further down you go, the real difference between schools becomes very hard to determine. Is a school ranked 45 much better than Cooley? Yes. However, Cardozzo is simply not that much better than Catholic U. Its just the way it is.