I wouldn't say I know a lot about the law school, but I am from L.A. and well aware of the campus location etc. My mom worked there for a few years and I went to a million basketball camps there in high school. I don't why I didn't apply to Pepperdine when I sent out my apps, but I didn't. In all honestly I would have attended the school had I been accepted. That being said I know 0 about the other schools you listed so I can't say what the right decision is. All I can do is give you the pros and Cons about Pepperdine. Realize I am a random person on the internet and this is only from my perspective. Pros to Pepperdine
1. The campus is across the street from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are a lot of beautiful girls there and although not educationally relevant those two things will make 3 years of law school a bit more enjoyable. Not to mention you generally end up working around the area you go to school. Trust me there are a lot worse places to end up than Malibu, CA.
2. Whatever the rankings say Pepperdine is the third option in the L.A. Some might say Pepperdine is in a tie with LMU, but most people from L.A. have a better impression of Pepperdine because it is a beautiful campus next to a beautiful Malibu beach. If you don't know about Malibu it is very ritzy town with a lot
of money in it. LMU is in the heart of dirty, smoggy, traffic congested L.A. Of the schools in the L.A. area I would say the breakdown is as follows.
A) UCLA & USC are the top in the market. I would not say one is better than the other, but USC is in the ghetto while UCLA is in Westwood, which is pretty classy. If I had to choose between them I would go to UCLA, but academically & prestige wise I would say they are roughly equivalent.
B) Then Pepperdine & LMU are in a tie, but most people in L.A. have more respect for Pepperdine than LMU.
C) The other schools in the area are Southwestern, Chapman, La Verne, and I may be missing one, but Pepperdine in my eyes is third in the L.A. market.
3. This may or may not be a pro, but I know several people that have graduated from Pepperdine passed the bar and are now employed attorneys. None of them are racking in 200K plus a year, but they are all doing alright for themselves. They are not doing world changing litigation either and likely will never work in Big Law. They do get to live and work in Malibu, which is a pretty f***ing sweet place to be. If you want their e-mails feel free to PM me and maybe they can give you more in depth info about their experiences. Cons:
1. Malibu is far away from L.A. and traffic in L.A. is HORRIBLE. I imagine it woudld be very difficult to find internships etc while in school. It woudl take you two hours one way to get to where most L.A. firms and court are located. Based on this I would think it would be difficult to get any work experience while in school. I am sure you can do it, but it might be difficult.
2. You are also in 3rd place in your own market and maybe 4th since some people do think LMU is better. Nobody is going to be tracking you down from Pepperdine and you are going to have to put some real effort into finding work as a result of being in 3rd or 4th place in your own market. Not to mention L.A. is a place a lot of people want to live and Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Yale etc graduates will also be competing with you for jobs.
. This is a good site to find about schools real employment numbers. It looks like the top 10% at Pepperdine made over 150K, but nearly half the graduating class did not report their salaries. This is pretty common for most low tier 1 & lower ranked schools.
4. Pricetag is 37k, which is pretty expensive and housing in Malibu I cannot imagine is cheap. Unless you get a scholarship it might be possible to accumulate 200k in student debt based tuition + living expenses. Maybe prices have dropped, but I remember 1Bedroom apartments etc being 2k a month and up. I am not sure if Pepperdine has graduate housing or not, but if they don't living in Malibu can get REAL EXPENSIVE. If you live in the cheaper areas within reasonable driving distance San Fernando Valley (Calabasas, Westlake, Woodland Hills, West Hills etc) which are still EXPENSIVE, you will be looking at a 40 minute commute one way. Remember in L.A. traffic can get OUTRAGEOUS at any given time. Growing up there have been times when it took me 3 hours to drive 10 miles. The opening scene of office space is pretty accurate to what you deal with frequently if you live in L.A. The bottom line is the cost and commute no matter what you do from Pepperdine will be a B****.
In regards to you transferring out from Pepperdine I have no idea. You would probably need to be in the top 10% maybe even top 5% and there is a 90 to 95% chance that will not happen. A lot of smart people go to any ABA school and finishing in the top 10% or 5% is highly unlikely no matter how hard you work. Again, almost everyone that goes to any ABA school is smart, motivated, and hard working. The first day everyone will be convinced they will finish in the top 10%, but 90% do not. I don't think going Pepperdine or any of the schools you listed will give you any edge to transferring into a T14 school. You will need to finish in the top 10% or maybe top 5% of the class at any of the schools you listed. Based on what I said above I would not count on that happening.
Then as both me & John said if you are a person that is BigLaw or bust then don't go to any of the schools you listed. You will need to finish in the top 10% or 5% from any of those schools. Again, for the reasons mentioned above it is unlikely that will happen. Continue retaking the LSAT if you will only be happy working in BigLaw. You may or may not get the score necessary to go, but if you are BigLaw or bust then going to any of the schools listed is probably a bad idea. This is because there is a 90% chance you will spend 3 years of your life and well over a 100K to have a 10% maybe even 5% shot at accomplishing what you want.
Maybe someone will disagree with everything I said, but this is my second year law student opinion. I still have a lot to learn about the legal world and take anything I say with a major grain of salt. I can honestly say Pepperdine is a BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS, but even that is subjective so maybe you will think it is hideous. It is across the street from a gorgeous Malibu beach with drop dead gorgeous girl everywhere so I don't see how you could disagree with me on that, but everyone is different. I had some GREAT TIMES on those beaches in high school and when I came home for summers in college. Maybe that does not matter to you, but I think it is important to go to a school where you can have a little bit of fun once in a while. Also remember no matter what school you go the odds are that is where yoyu will end up working. If you go to Pepperdine odds are you will be around Malibu and that is not a bad place to end up. Well hopefully that helps somewhat to get an understanding of Pepperdine. I know absolutely nothing about the other schools so I cannot comment on them. Good luck to you.