For the record, without knowing what schools are being discussed here or what your situation is exactly, I would tend to say go to the tier 1. My points were only in response to 'T Tom' who seems to think despite reasonable evidence that virtually all students at T3s are notably worse than virtually all students in T1s.
Most students at ttt schools ARE worse than students at tier 1s. This is not hyperbole; this is fact. Compare GPAs, LSAT scores, and the rigor of undergraduate education for incoming students. There is no reasonable evidence to the contrary.
I've been with you in other threads, but this statement is too much of a generalization. I use myself and my experience as an example... I had a 3.5 gpa at the #1 rated public school in the country and was on full scholarship during my entire undergrad enrollment. I took the LSAT with no prep and didn't do well by the standards of this internet board. Do I wish I'd retaken and had a better starting point for my legal career? You bet. Will my enrollment in a non T-14 hurt my job prospects? It currently is...
However, would I tip my hat and say most of the students at T1s are better students/smarter than me? I don't think so. Do they work harder? With curves as generous as 3.3/3.5...I doubt it. There were ridiculously idiotic people at my T4 that did not survive, but those who did worked pretty hard and had impressive undergrad credentials. Now if you bow at the feet of the LSAT and feel it is the ultimate predictor of law school prowess... I'll never be able to dissuade you.
BUT... T4s suck. It is not nearly the same educational experience as that given at top 100 schools, sorry to all the "want to be believers," but its true. Several should be closed. As for the whole top 5% at a T4 vs top 25% at a T1... the point is moot for initial job opportunities. The employers looking at top 25% of the class at a T-1 simply do not have to read T-4 resumes to fill positions, and they don't. They don't go to T-4 campuses for OCI, don't give even courtesy interviews, and rarely hire unless the applicant is:
1. Well networked
2. An alumnus at the firm is from the T4 and has input in hiring (it does happen sometimes)
3. You have a direct connection to the firm
***my legal disclaimer... I've taken law school classes for grades at Boalt/Valparaiso/and Lewis and Clark and due to personal/family connections have extensive knowledge of hiring practices at major law firms. My problem is that I'd rather tie my manhood to a pace car at the Daytona 500 for a few laps than sell my soul for BIGLAW.
Good luck to you guys
I agree with pretty much everything you've said. I tend to exaggerate. People hold me to my exaggerations, which I then feel compelled to defend. Sometimes my exaggerations are indefensible. The only part where I really disagree with you is where you wrote that you didn't prep for the LSAT but that students at tier 1 schools weren't harder workers. It's one or the other, isn't it? Wouldn't a hard worker have prepped?
I don't think the LSAT is the end-all-be-all, but it is an excellent gauge of critical thinking skills. Honestly, if you can't do relatively well on the LSAT, how are you going to understand concepts like the rule against perpetuities? Just as not everyone is allowed to get an MD and practice medicine, not everyone should be allowed to practice law. Doing so dilutes the strength of the profession and hurts laypersons.