1) MANY people get need-based aid. Merit aid is icing on the cake, but not the primary factor in choosing schools for the majority of students.
2) Fordham seems to have established over the decades a particular niche based on its Manhattan alumni network and job placement at biglaw. You see Fordham at all levels of the top 50 law firms, including recruiting, partners, associates, etc., well beyond what its USNR ranking would suggest.
3) If you just barely don't get in to NYU or Columbia, Fordham is the best option in the region in terms of ranking/prestige, job placement, and size. There are tons of people in this category. So they don't feel compelled to play lets make a deal.
1) actually, schools have been moving more and more funds away from need-based, towards merit-based.
This has to do with the importance of rankings. Merit aid basically buys numbers. Fordham would prefer to only give need-based, but they need to remain competitive (as relayed to me by dean XXX)
2)Fordham's biglaw placement in most years is about 20th, regardless of the fact that US News ranks them around 30th (give or take a few points each year)
3) ding/ding/ding. New York is a huge region and one of the largest law markets in the world. If you think of it differently, the metropolitan area is twice the size of Chicago.
Besides, not everyone is a rankings whore / constantly checks out TLS, and Fordham has a darn good reputation in the city