Is T1 considered top 50 or top 25? Likewise, what is considered T2, top 25 to 50 or top 50 to 100?
The best way to successfully plan to transfer to another law school after your first year: do not "plan" anything. Believe me, whether you are at a T4 or a T1, one thing is certain, you will have A LOT of work to do. Transferring up a notch or two will hinge mainly on your ranking and first year grades. So, it makes sense to focus all of your energy on preparing for 1L classes and studying, not transferring. Further, your file will likely not be considered "complete" until the rankings have been released, which usually takes a month or so after your finals. The point: worry about your transfer apps after you take your finals.
Also, keep in mind that you should devote quality time to preparing your applications. Research the schools. Customize your personal/diversity statements to fit neatly with each school that will receive an application from you. Personalize yourself!
Last but not least, keep your head held high. There are many students, plenty to be found on this forum, who are quick to bash a particular school or a particular type of school. Remember, if you really want to transfer- then make it happen.
This advice is coming from a T4 to T1 transfer student.
As someone who did exactly, what you're suggesting, I can give you the good and the bad.
The good: it's entirely possible, and even reasonable, to work those hours during 1L. If you can handle a 50-60 hour work week (which you should be ready for if you're going into this field), you can balance work and a 1L schedule. It's hard work, and you need to figure out how to take off work for at least 2 weeks during finals time, but you can do it.
The bad: kiss your fun and free-time goodbye. Thinking of joining intramural teams, public service organizations or student government? Forget it. Happy hour on Thursday nights with your classmates? Not on your schedule. Going to see that Supreme Court justice that's giving a speech at your school? You'll probably be working then. Work, class, study will pretty much be your life. Law school has a lot to offer outside of class, and you will not be a part of it.
I had a decent law school experience, and good grades, but it was a tradeoff. It's possible, but you will have to decide whether it's worth it for the law school experience you want to have. PM me if you have any other questions.
Part 4 is . . . are you sure you wouldn't want to wait a few years, retake the LSAT if necessary, and find a better fit? (If, indeed, a different school would be a better fit.) If it's an academic-related environment you're eventually interested in, academicians are even more status-oriented than firms.
Speaking to the above point, I already have a Master's Degree under my belt and with it am getting higher in age and resolved that it was either no or never for law school as I didn't want to get my career going much later than I already will. So I probably will stay put at where I am and with that being said, have decided against accepting the position at my current employer. My future job prospects, flexibility, and compensation cumulatively outweigh the benefits of the offered promotion.
In terms of my hours of employment, unfortunately, because of my financial situation, I must work the 15-20 hours I mentioned earlier while staying in the full-time division. There really is no other way I could support myself even with additional loans for a myriad of reasons.
And finally, academics is something I do want to get into eventually, but it is not the be all end all for me, being a practicing lawyer and just that would be okay with me. However, with your observation regarding prestige and academic job offerings, transferring to a higher ranked school (if grades permit) is always an option.
I've only seen law students summering at firms listed as summer law clerks - they get the same pay rate as starting associates. I've seen highschool and college kids listed as interns - they get paid hourly. My data sample is small though and its possible the only difference is semantic. Few firms are hiring 1Ls these days - you are probably better off summering with a good judge, DOJ office, or public interest type organization.