This is copy/pasted verbatim from a buddy of mine:
haha do I know anything... I was a USC undergrad, many of my best friends are graduates of USC Law, I lived in Columbia for 15 years, my dad is a professor there, and my mom holds a very high position within the university. Much of what follows is information I've received from her (she would not let me or my brother apply to USC LAW, fyi):
USC's law school is falling apart. The legislature continues to slash higher education funding b/c the recession has left huge holes in the budget, but even before that they were cutting back b/c we're one of the reddest of the red states and we don't believe in subsidies or taxes. The lack of funding has meant that professors and administrative staff are leaving the school for greener pastures, and have been for some time. They've raised tuition substantially (USC Law is far more expensive than, say, UGA Law) to try to cover the shortfall, but all it has succeeded in doing is driving away out of state students who don't want to pay 35k a year. Aside from that fact that the facilities are aging, the performance of the students has declined as well. USC recently fell out of the top 100, and alumni are fucking pissed. They're so pissed at the decade long slide, in fact, that the law school's development office can't get any of them to donate money (many recent graduates are also resentful of what they see as a system that insulates professors from criticism by the students, and as such are distrustful of the bureaucracy and have no compelling reason to give). This sort of cycle perpetuates itself: lack of performance b/c of lack of money, but lack of money b/c of lack of performance. There have been dozens of proposals for partially subsidized construction of a new law school, but the money isn't there, and it won't be for some time, and USC's undergraduate program likely isn't going to pony up for it since so much of their money is being funneled into a research campus much like North Carolina's Research Triangle outside Raleigh. To top things off a second law school (mine) was opened 8 years ago by prominent, frustrated USC Law grads w/ lots of money, and they poached the best professors and staff. A consulting firm was hired late last year to review the law school and make recommendations. The report was bleak: almost every area of the school received the equivalent of a D+ grade. There are ways to turn it around, but that ship won't be righted for a decade at best.
So uh... don't go, lol. Nah but seriously now is not the time to be entering USC Law. They've got a lot of restructuring coming up and its going to be a tumultuous few years to say the least as they adjust to new competition, a restricted budget, and a complete staff overhaul.
Buddy makes some really salient points, I think - many of which are very true. It's worth noting, however, that Buddy likely goes to Charleston, which is geographically
South Carolina's competitor but doesn't - to my knowledge - hold as much sway in the Columbia legal market as South Carolina. No idea about its reputation in Charleston.
The reality, as I've said before, is that South Carolina likes to hang on to its own. Browse some of the big firms in Columbia... 85-90% of their associates and partners came out of the University of South Carolina. Of course, this kind of insularity says something about the state as a whole, but that's another issue altogether.
If you want to live and practice in South Carolina, go to the University of South Carolina. Going to a higher-ranked regional school (like Georgia or Alabama) might give you some street cred but wouldn't give you the same entree to the South Carolina legal market you'd get from U. of South Carolina... you'd have to do just as much legwork, I think, as you would with any other out-of-state market.
If you don't have strong feelings about staying in South Carolina, however... well, that's another matter.