1. Going to a school with a higher grading curve isn't going to help you at all, when you transfer, schools look at your class rank, and from my understanding, very little else. a 3.3 at one school and a 3.0 at another can both mean that you are at the middle of the class. As for it being cheaper, I guess thats a consideration for you.
Further, don't count on transferring - going to another good law school is only going to help you get in to vandy if you perform very well in your first year. Nothing is a sure thing, the kids with the best lsat scores at my school aren't currently ranked at the top of the class, and vice versa...its kind of a crapshoot
2. As far as I know most schools only look at first year CLASS RANK, journals and extracurriculars play a role to some extent as well. Some schools look at whether or not you would have been competitive in admissions to begin with.