Nebby wrote:I don't know why you're asking hypotheticals OP.
Not hypothetical. If for some reason I want to live in Utah (I have no ties there) I want to know the "best" route to take. Why waste money at a T6 (or wherever) if I would still "struggle" to find employment in an area like that. Instead I could go to a much lower ranked school, make connections from people who are in the same "region" and possibly even from Salt Lake City (for example) and come out the same, if not better because of less money spent, than I would going to Yale and trying to break into Utah market.
Yes, if you know you want to live in a particular region (and don't plan to move), the strongest regional school, especially for free, is a great option and people here would recommend that. People here can be pessimistic about the idea of using the regional school to create ties where you don't have any - i.e. if you pick up and move to Utah for the purpose of going to school there and working there after law school, despite never having lived in Utah or having any other connections to Utah, the concern is that you will be at a disadvantage compared to the "true" locals who never left or at least already have ties. To some extent this may be true, but (I went to a regional school) you definitely can make connections and meet people and so on by attending a regional school, if you make the effort to network and get good experience while in school.
People who are at T14s will often disapprove of going to a regional school when you don't already have ties there, in part because they're often aiming for biglaw. The biglaw market in regions like SLC/Denver is incredibly small, and those firms will tend to favor the top local students, or T14 students with ties, so non-local T14 grads often get shut out. The flipside to this is that you will need to be one of the top students at the local school to have a shot at biglaw anyway, so you're taking a different kind of risk at the local school. If you're fine with any kind of legal job, then go to the regional school. However, if your primary goal is biglaw over being in a specific region, a T14 school is probably better because it will get you a biglaw job *somewhere.*
The other reason to go to a national-reach school would be if you're aiming for a very specialized, competitive job that generally only hires out of the very top schools. Like, if you want to go into academia, or the highest levels of impact lit/international human rights/specialized policy work, that kind of thing - go to Yale. Of course, if you're aiming for the latter jobs you kind of have to give up most regional preferences anyway because you're going to be chasing the jobs around the country. If you want to stay in Utah you are unlikely to be aiming for either of these things, since those kinds of jobs don't really exist there.
So, yes, if you want to move to some market you have no ties to at all, a lot of people here will tell you not to do that, but you can succeed by going to the local law school. But you have to have realistic goals for the job market for that location, and be pretty confident that you do want to stay there for the foreseeable future (people do move around after law school, but you're going to make it harder for yourself by going to a regional school without ties and then trying to leave that region).