I would like to weigh in on this with the insight given to me by my dad. He the head hiring partner at a fairly sizable law firm...
I am not saying the above because I am trying to be an ass or pull weight- this is not my "uncle who works for the lsac"- just think his .02 might help people out.
Basically, he *might* give you an interview if you are #1 or MAYBE #2 in your class from a 3t/4t. However, you had better impress the socks off him in the interview. Even then, he has given manjy people in that position a chance in a summer associate position only to be disappointed with their performance. More and more, he tells me that he just does not bother with anybody not from a 1st tier. It is not because he is elitist and only wants to hobnob with other graduates of elite schools. The problem is that 9/10 times he finds that they simply cannot perform due to inferior education. Many times these people are actually very intelligent individuals that are perhaps capable of becoming good lawyers. However, they simply have not gotten the tools they need.
Yes, of course it may be possible to work your way up from a much smaller setting. But you are starting way behind in the race. Not only do you start behind, you are given far fewer learning opportunities starting in a smaller setting so it becomes even harder to catch up.
I would not have a problem living with a school that lacks prestige, but one that does not provide what I am paying for *an education* would be seriously bothersome.
BTW. My dad took the LSAT twice and remembers his score on both exams. He can still recite every school he got into, was waitlisted at, and was rejected from.
Heres to hoping Friday does not spell the end of my law school dreams