okay, i didnt read through this entire thread so this may have been said already. If so, i am sorry. Anyway, my opinion is that if you are sure you want to practice in a certain (geographic) region then it is not nearly as important to attend the "better" school (as long as you do well at the lower ranked school). I am close friends with a judge (in Ohio) and a few lawyers at Jones Day (cleveland) who all went to a T3 school. However, that T3 was in Northeast Ohio and was well respected in the area. I have asked them this same question and they all agree that ranking is well over rated as long as you are near the top of your class(those are the words of a managing partner at Jones Day).
thats a pretty big if though. sort of like 'you will get into a t14 as long as you have a 3.0 and break 170 on the lsat.' the majority of people who try to be in the top 5% of anything like this will not.
I understand what you are saying, but i am just trying to get the point across that you dont have to go to a 1st tier school to get the job you want. I think this board (not everyone) is obsessed with rankings, and that bothers me.