The Tier 2 in my area is up in the 70s now for a median private sector salary and it is not a high-paying region.
NEVER rely on salary stats the school, or USNEWS provides. Those numbers are not representative for a number of reasons. Look closely at the numbers and the response rate. Anyone who has taken a entry level stats class should be able to tell that these numbers are not trustworthy.
From a school like Case, you'd need to be at least top 15%, maybe higher to get a job with a big firm. After the big firms, pay drops off considerably. Most smaller firms do not pay 70K to start. The starting salary is more like 40-55K depending on the type of firm and where it is located. If you are average gradewise, you probably won't even qualify for on campus interviews. At my tier 2, the cutoff for OCI is top 1/4. At Case, it might be 1/3 or so, and that's being generous. However, many OCI jobs are not big law. These are small and medium, regional firms. The big firms want people on law review and who are in the top 10-15%. That is the REALITY.
Talk to recent grads of schools like Case. Most law grads with average grades (who are not at top schools) do not find work until after bar passage results are in. Don't think for a second that because Case is ranked #53 and not #75-100 that you will be immune to this.
I heard it from a current 3L, not from USNWR. The best way to get accurate information is by talking to students who are about to graduate. I don't think he got his information from USNWR.
Gwiz- some people work their asses off and don't do as well as others during 1L. That's because there is one type of class and not everyone is equally successful in that type of learning environment. While it's partially a matter of perseverance, it's just as much a matter of luck. In 2L/3L you can pick whether to take a paper class/seminar or lectures so people are better able to improve their grades by picking classes in which they'll do better.