I already sent back my forms, and it's definitely Hastings, but yeah, I'm mostly interested in bioscience & healthcare-related IP law, which doesn't really seem to be Tulane's forte (Entertainment might be interesting, but Sports law sounds to me like watching paint dry).
The other thing is, of all the places you mentioned the Tulane name being recognized, New Orleans wasn't one of them, and I've found that to be truer than one would expect--New Orleans firms don't seem that interested Tulane grads, which would make me a little nervous about summer jobs & internships. Also, NY, DC, & IL are great, but one of Tulane's biggest selling points for me was that I already live here, whereas going to Hastings would involve a major move. So just putting off the move for three years(i.e. going to Tulane and having to move out of NO to find a decent job)? Nah, not worth it.
Also, after going to Tulane undergrad, I think a lot of that "national reputation" has more to do with the fact that many Tulane students were already from other parts of the country (e.g. the NE), and just went back to their home cities and got jobs through the same networks they would have, regardless of where they went to school--not because Tulane has a spectacular reputation.
Either way, it's a good school, and I had a lot of fun in New Orleans, but I think I'm ready for something a little different, and SF has been a lot of fun every time I've visited. Stuff like the partnership with UCSF Med & the LAB Project are just more what I'm looking for in a law school.
Trust me, Tulane has a spactacular rep. New Orleans firms have had to really fight for Tulane grads over the years, to no avail. Thus, they understandably want to concentrate their efforts wisely. This happens in or out of market in a lot of places. How much effort do you think Nashville firms put into recruiting Vandy grads knowing most want to leave for IL, DC, NY or GA?
Many top national BigLaw firms once recruited at the University of Washington in Seattle, but they found in the 1990's that people loved Seattle and didn't want to leave, so they just slowed their recruiting there. Plus, Microsoft, Nintendo, Real Networks, Boeing, Amazon.com, and other corporations were actively stealing top IP recruits. Likewise with environmental law companies and agencies.
Many Tulane students go to New Orleans intending to leave after graduation, which contributes to its reputation in other markets.
So what you're seeing is a result of self-selection, not any disrespect for the quality of Tulane grads. Let's face it, after UVA, Duke, Vandy and Texas, Tulane is probably the best southern law school. Some might argue for Emory or Georgia, but Emory doesn't hold down Atlanta, which it should, b/c their grads are NOT leaving Georgia. And SMU, Florida, FL. St., UH, Baylor? Forget it.
Besides, most top law schools have recruits from cities all over the country, whereas regional schools do not so much. And that is one trait of a "national" school, as opposed to a "regional" one. The fact that Tulane can pull students from all over the country who go to other markets (post-graduation) and get good jobs, is a big indication of its rep.