I am an attorney that has been licensed for a few years and I remember when choosing a law school how important I thought rankings were. However, I have watched the rankings both during and after law school. It is shocking to see how much the rankings of each school I was considering changed over the past 5 years. http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html
I entered law school in 2008 and was living in New York. I applied all over the place and was offered a full scholarship to University of Tulsa and Michigan State. At the time under the rankings both schools were considered Tier 4. The rankings used to be Tier 1 (top 50) (Tier 2 Top 100) Then they stopped ranking and made an arbitrary ranking of Tier 3 and Tier 4. Now they simply rank to 150 and then do a RNP for the final 50.
At the time I didn't want to go to a Tier 4 school (A Tier 4 School Doesn't even exist now), because I thought the rankings mattered, but for reasons unknown Tulsa is now in a 4 way tie for #82 and Michigan State University is in an eight way tie for 94th. (Yes eight way tie for 94th place not making that up. (Direct from U.S. News-http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings/page+4 .
I am originally from California and applied to several California Schools, which included University of San Francisco, McGeorge and Chapman.
When I was applying McGeorge was barely in the top 100, but now for reasons unknown and under the new changes it is not in the top 150.
San Francisco was 84th, but now 138th.
Chapman was 100th now it is 127th.
The reason for these mass fluctuations is that U.S. News formula is based on nothing really just honestly unidentified people ranking schools on a scantron from 1-5. There is really no tangible way to compare University of Tulsa v. University of San Francisco. They are both ABA schools and will provide a quality education, but Tulsa and San Francisco are different places.
World renowned schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford are at the top and that doesn't change, but to any 0L choosing a mid-level school please do not use the rankings. Nobody cares whether a school is in eight way tie for 94th or 4 way tie for 82nd.
I am always thankful to an attorney that talked me out of going to Michigan State, because despite my love of College of Sports I am from California and would have died in Michigan winters. Furthermore, I had no desire to live in Michigan and wanted to live in San Francisco. He told me if you want to be a lawyer in San Francisco go to law school in San Francisco. I was like many 0L's and overthinking everything and putting substantial stock in the opinion of a for-profit unregulated magazine known as U.S. News to make life altering decision. (Not a good idea)
There is nothing wrong with U.S. News offering an opinion and they can rank anything they want, but making a life altering decision based on a magazine's random opinion is not a good idea.
As I now see by the time you graduate the school you choose based on rankings will have changed substantially.
In my scenario the schools I turned down raised significantly and the schools I attended declined, but nobody cares.
End of rant.