P.S.- if you plan on working in Tallahassee during the summer. Forget it. It ain't gonna happen. Maybe a paying internship but as for a real earning job, they just don't exist in that city.
I just graduated from FSU law, so maybe I can chime in on the "real earning job" thing. First of all, most students do NOT stay in Tallahassee for their summers. 2L's generally go to Tampa, Orlando, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, or Atlanta for their summer associate positions.
Next, if you want to work during the school term OR IN THE SUMMER in Tallahassee you can still do that too. Tallahasse is filled to the brim with law firms. Most are smaller firms, but I never ran across someone who "couldn't get a job" in Tallahassee (who really wanted one...regardless of class rank) with a firm or State agency during their summer or during school.
I clerked at a firm during my 2L school year. It was "a real paying job." I also know many other people who had "real paying jobs" at firms during the school year. I don't know of any "paid internships" either. And I got quite a good paying gig as a summer associate in Orlando for my 2L summer associate position as well.
So "flakignipin" its pretty apparent that you don't know what you're talking about. You are talking out of your a$$. You're also frankly a little nutty to think that Stetson will offer you a better career path than FSU. FSU's name is much better than Stetson's in the Florida legal market. The only place where they are pretty much equal is Tampa. But then again, there are a lot of FSU grads working in Tampa, so maybe Stetson isn't that big of as advantage in the Tampa/St. Pete area as you think.
And as to your comment about what others think about Stetson top 20% and FSU top 20%, yes there's not much distinction....in Tampa/St. Pete. Try getting a job outside of that area with top 20% from Stetson. If its between you and the FSU kid in say...Atlanta or Orlando, they are probably going to go with the FSU kid.
To the OP: Frankly you're crazy to turn down just a Scholly + Stipend from FSU vs. just a Scholly from Stetson. Tallahassee isn't that great of a town, but its manageable.
P.S. - You said you spoke to hiring partners? How many? What firms? All I can say is that if you look at the NALP directory, you'll see that many more firms come to FSU than Stetson. Also, you do realize that the hiring partner is NOT the person who makes the decision about who to interview in most cases. Its done by a hiring committee.