First off, I agree with a previous poster that said very few of us have any right to say anything about the schools because most of us 1) haven't been to law school or 2) have only been to one law school.
That being said, I think this is a really fun thread, and I'm throwing in my useless 2 cents. ha.
I'd say University of Houston (#70) and Texas Tech (TTT), at least when looking at job prospects and comparing them to the two higher ranked private schools in Texas (Baylor at #51 and SMU at #43). In the previous 10 pages, someone suggested public schools suffer in the ranking game, and I agree.
I'll preface my support by saying my analysis focusses on job prospects, and I didn't really look at any faculty quality ratings (if they even exist for lower ranked schools).Salaries (25/50/75) with % reporting
(if, of course, you put any faith in USNWR numbers)
SMU ($52K, $77K, $123K) with 68% reporting.
Baylor ($55K, $70K, $105K) with 84% reporting.
Houston ($58K, $90K, $110K) with 78% reporting.
Texas Tech ($39K, $69K, $118K) with 72% reporting
The schools have similar bar passage rates (85% to 91%), similar regional appeal (86% to 96% stay in state), and similar employment rates (96% to 98% employed within nine months).
For anyone that can get in to these schools but not UT, Houston and and Texas Tech will almost always cost less (with Texas Tech providing quite a few full scholarship + $300/yr stipends).
Texans love Texans. If you go to school in Lubbock, you can find employment in Houston. If you go to school in Houston, you can find employment in Dallas. I do not believe the same can be said for lower-ranked schools in NYC and DC - they are not as portable within nearby metropolitan areas. St. John's or NYLS looking for employment in Boston or DC? Catholic looking to go to NYC? Much less likely.
Texas has great legal markets for the private sector: Dallas and Houston, and to a lesser extent Austin. There are plenty of opportunities for Biglaw and medium law. Money Magazine ranks three suburbs of Dallas Top25 best overall places to live in the United States (more than any other metropolitan area). http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2006/top100/index.html
Cost of living in all these areas is low compared to similar-size legal markets in other parts of the country. The salaries above go a lot further in Dallas and Houston than the following New York schools in NYC:
Fordham ($96K, $125K, $125K) with 77% reporting.
Cardozo ($68K, $95K, $125K) with 65% reporting.
Brooklyn ($70K, $115K, $125K) with 45% reporting.
St. John's ($52K, $70K, $125K) with 60% reporting.
$125K in NYC is comparable to $54K in Houston, $57K in Dallas. I never put too
much stock in the COL calculators, but I think they are generally a good guage (I currently work in DC, and my salary here goes a lot less distance). http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costofliving.html
Of course, I grew up in Texas, so I'm biased all around.