Why is the employment prospect bad for Suffolk if the US News ranks the programs nationally pretty high?
This is a good example of why I'm skeptical of specialty rankings. In my experience, they really don't matter. Suffolk, for example, may have a good local reputation for dispute resolution in the Northeast (as Pepperdine does in California), and has been given a high specialty ranking by USNWR.
For whatever reason, however, these programmatic rankings never seem to generate better overall reputational/employment dividends. It seems that law schools have a general reputation based on their history, alumni success, and admission selectivity. Getting ranked in a specific, narrow field never seems to have much impact on that general reputation (positive or negative). Part of the issue is probably that most students are only able to take three or four classes within a given concentration. Therefore, while a few specific classes may be considered "ranked", the majority of the J.D. program isn't.
Here's an example. Lewis & Clark has one of the highest ranked environmnetal law programs in the country, ranked higher than Harvard. Does that mean that a huge firm in NYC is more willing to hire an L&C grad than a Harvard grad for its Enviro/Natural Resources section? I have no doubt that L&C is a fine school, but the big firms back east still want nationally recognized names.
Im just confsued as to why so many people are attending unranked schools? Is it because they are known regionally? If so, wouldnt the job prospect employment score be higher?
People attend unranked schools for all sorts of reasons, its difficult to generalize. I graduated from T3 because (1) I needed a part-time evening program, (2) I didn't have time to commute (the school was only ten minutes away), and (3) they offered me a 75% scholarship. Some people were there for similar reasons, others just didn't get in anywhere else.
As far as employment prospects, the numbers are down for all schools right now. Some T3/T4s have employment prospects that are equivalent to many T2s and even some T1s, others are very low. It just depends. Many T3/T4s have decent local reputations and produce lots of local judges, DAs, and Main Street lawyers. Especially if the school is geographically isolated, the employment prospects might be alright. You really need to look at specific local conditions and parallel competition in order to evaluate whether a particular unranked school is a good choice.