Okay, well, listen. You're talking about firm work. So if you're deciding between X school for 150k debt and Y school for 25k debt, you should only choose X if the opportunity for BigLaw, vis-a-vis your class rank, is appreciably greater.
So, like 15(a)(2) said, you'd probably have to be top 1/3 or 1/4 at Vandy for California firms. Maybe even a bit higher to make it a sure thing. (I know that atrocious Vanderbilt guy will probably quibble with me about the numbers, but he'll be wrong.)
Anyway, If you're looking at Vandy compared to a 25 or a 35 school, where maybe you need to be top 20% for CA firms, then the 10 or 15% leeway probably isn't worth tons of extra money. If you're looking at a Tier 2 school (especially one outside of CA), where you'll need straight top 10%, then Vanderbilt probably is worth the extra money.
Again, this all assumes that Vanderbilt would be much more expensive than the lower-ranked schools.
This seems to be about right.
Top 1/3 would have been a lock for CA biglaw two years ago. ITE, I would say top 25% (as long as you have CA connections) will be enough to land SOME kind of CA biglaw firm.