Here is some relevant info from a Tulane faculty member responding to a few of my questions:
The jump back up to our normal position (late 30s, early 40s -- the prior year was an aberration for us) is due almost entirely to reducing our class size and obtaining a class with a slightly higher GPA. So, consider yourself part of the chosen! The curve is a "B" (3.0) curve, in exact terms, in any class with 21 or more J.D. students, the professor shall award no less than 60% and no more than 65% grades of B and above, and no more than 75% grades of B- and above. This means essentially you must be in the top 60-65% of the class.
As far as why Tulane "places better" in the East than the West (precisely 28% NE, 5% Midwest, 30% La., 1% international; 12% West; 24% other SE), from my own personal experience counseling students, it is a matter of choice. Many more students want to stay here or go to NY or DC than go to California. Those students who I have known who wanted to get back to California did. Actually, I think 12% out West is a fairly high number. One issue with California is that most places in California do not give job offers without bar passage and so that deters students who want more security. I can say with a fair degree of certainty that if you maintain a 3.0 or higher, you will be able to get back to California -- it is true that it may take a bit more work on your part than students who stay in Louisiana -- you may have to reach out a bit more, but the Career Office and professors here will support you in that effort.