By your logic, shouldn't Cardozo (16 transfers out), Chicago-Kent (17 transfers out), and Loyola Marymount (13 transfers out) all have transfer numbers that are more similar to those at American? There is obviously something unique to American when 50 students are leaving each year to attend a different school.
Please note that you call a theory of his speculation and then make a speculation of your own. Whether or not you think that speculation has more merit, it's still "pure speculation."
My take (which is speculation backed up by a bit of data): GW and Georgetown, the two schools I imagine take the most AU transfers, are large transfer taking schools (33 and 100 respectively). SMU and Tulane only really have Texas as a viable transfer alternative in the area (I get this by looking for a school that significantly outranks another school. There are no other regional law schools that fit that, and certainly no local schools). Texas only takes 14 transfers a year.
Add to this the fact that AU's matriculants were 469 compared to Tulane's 274.
The simple point is this: you meet a lot of good friends your first year of law school. Transfering usually takes you away from those good friends, but if you go to a place like AU, you can transfer to a number of places and still end up keeping those friends, keeping your apartment, keeping everything else in your life the same. This is no small deal.
Don't get me wrong. I think high transfer rates probably do indicate something about the student body not being exactly content. I don't believe, in my interactions with WCL students, that they are entirely happy with AU in the way that I've found people at USC. But I don't think you can read too much into the stats, and I certainly don't think you can make the argument that AU is overrated because of it.
1) I didn't speculate per se. Rather I pointed out how her/his speculation could easily be countered by a competing speculation.
2) All of your conclusions flow from the idea that students transfer to law schools in the same city where they currently attend. I'm not sure what, besides conjecture, supports your theory. Much of the posting on this site and database information from Yahoo supports the contrary. Transfers often desire to leave their city, some desire to return to a school closer to home, and others desire to attend a certain school irrespective of the city it is located in.
3) The presence of one high-intake (G-town) and one medium-intake (GW) transfer school in DC is mitigated by the proximate location of a number of other law schools (a couple which are similarly ranked schools to American).
4) Even if we assume that transfer rates should be considered in light of the schools matriculation numbers, American's transfer number should be no more than 25 to keep proportion with Tulane. In fact, it is twice that.
Any way you slice it, American has a serious problem: an extraordinary amount of students choose to transfer out.
Please, explain to me how that is a "problem." Please, supply where you get your transfer stats. To void of using substantial time to find it, I'd like to see where you are pulling these from. Not because I don't believe you, but I would like to see it.
I think there is a two-fold reason for people transferring by geographic measures. The first being, like iscoredawaitlist points out, you can transfer from American to GWU/GULC without even having to move. It is obvious that the career placement from those two schools are better than American's. The second is pointed out by bruinbro. People do tend to transfer to areas closer to home. Looking through the 1L book I have, I see there are probably less than 5% of students at our school that are from the DC/VA/MD area. Rather, WCL pull students from all across the nation. SMU/Tulane are largely regional schools. Does that mean that students don’t come from across the nation? – Absolutely not. I would, however, contend that there are far more Texas residents that go to SMU, and far more Louisiana residents that go to Tulane – than DC/VA/MD residents that go to WCL.
Bottom line, I think it's ludicrous to argue that American has "problems" simply because of its transfer rate. That argument has absolutely no merit to it at all. Without providing some kind of statistical basis as to WHY people transfer, then you really have nothing but a number. If the majority of students move upward to a T14 school to secure better career possibilities, or to move home due to a change of heart - then that is a perfectly relevant reason to do so.
Again, until you can come up with a substantial explanation of why students elect to transfer, this argument is pointless.