For example, Philadelphia law firms will hire from the T 14 first, and after they've done that they will likely still have a need for associates that exceeds their T 14 pool of candidates. In order to fill their need, they will next turn to the law students in their region which would include graduates of Penn State, Temple, Rutgers Camden and Villanova. Those same Philadelphia firms would probably NOT go out of their way to hire a graduate from the University of Illinois School of Law, even though that school is technically ranked higher than all of the area Philadelphia law schools. Likewise, a University of Illinois grad will have a much better time securing employment in the Chicago market than the graduates of the aforementioned Philly market schools.
This is an excellent summation of how so many law students completely misjudge the impact of rankings. Every law school applicant should read this.
Clearly, a degree from an elite school like Harvard or Yale is going to be hugely beneficial. That degree is instantly recognizable anywhere in the world, and will open doors. Once you get away from those handful of truly elite institutions, however, you're talking about local/regional reputations.
I would even argue that several of the T14 are essentially highly respected regional schools.
I knew so many people who went to college with me in LA, then went to law school in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Washington because they simply chose the school with the highest USNWR rank. They quickly found out upon returning to LA that local students had a distinct advantage in terms of connections and employment, and that nobody really cares that you went to the #42 school instead of the #53 school. At that level, alumni connections and location are far, far more important.