Pepperdine is better if you want to live in L.A. and Hastings is better for the Bay Area. When dealing with non-elite schools there is no "better" school. You should look at location, cost, course offerings etc when making your decision. I happen to know a little about each schools and I will try to give you some pros and cons, which might give you some insight, but you might already know all of this. Location
Pepperdine is in a MUCH MUCH better physical location it is beachside in Malibu, which is AWESOME. The con is that Malibu is not physically close to L.A. and to do any internships etc you would have to drive into the city in L.A. Traffic and that will be a b***h. The campus is absolutely gorgeous though.
Hastings is in the heart of the Tenderloin and I am 6'8 260 lbs and I am freaked out walking around there at night. They have hired a bunch of cops to be on campus at all times, but crackheads get arrested in front of the school basically once a week. However, Hastings is right across the street from several Court Houses, City Hall, and the Federal Building is not far either. As a result you can easily work in internship during the school year with no commute etc. The Hastings Campus is an unimpressive building in the heart of the ghetto though and Malibu is a much more peaceful environment. I work with a lot of interns at Hastings and a few have gotten their labtops stolen the tenderloin is a scary and weird place. San Francisco bums are so cracked out they don't even have any rhyme or reason to what they are doing they are mess. Cost
Hastings if you are a California resident 28k if you are a non-resident 40k, but you can get residency for your second & third years.
Although Hastings is in a s***t area San Francisco is not cheap and your cost of living will be 20k.
Pepperdine 37K in Tuition which is more than Hastings and it is about the same cost of living, but you will live MUCH MUCH nicer area. Education
As far as education goes any ABA law school is going to teach you the same thing. In your first year at Pepperdine or Hastings or any ABA school you will take Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Property, and in these classes you will read Supreme Court cases and the Supreme Court does write special editions for different schools you literally learn the same thing at any law school. If you have a particular area of interest like employment law, family law, or something like that you can check the course schedule at each school and see the electives they offer.
You can also check out the curves at each prospective school in their student handbooks and see how competitive it is. Most Hastings students I have worked with told me the students are very competitive with eachother. I only have one friend that went to Pepperdine and I worked for an attorney and they gave the impression that the students got along with eachother better probably because they are beachside in a beautiful city opposed to surrounded by crackheads, but who knows. Conclusion
There is no "better" school they are both good schools with different things to offer. Honestly if you want to be in L.A. then Pepperdine is the better choice and in S.F. Hastings is the better choice. Then the factors mentioned above may help you decide, which location is better. Rankings Rant
Whatever you do don't make your decision based on the rankings here. Schools of this level low tier 1, tier 2, etc move 20 spots any given year. The reason for this is the formula makes no sense and as a result is adamantly disapproved by the ABA, AALS, and any organization. The system is this and this is not a joke judges/lawyers from across the country fill out a scantron from 1-5. A judge in Maine who has never been to Pepperdine or Hastings X-Wife moves to California so he decides to give all California schools a 2 that year that is how much thought goes into the rankings. Remember U.S. News is a for profit magazine with absolutely no authority or approval from anyone. These articles from LSAC do a good job of explaining it. http://www.lsac.org/JD/Choose/deans-speak-out-rankings.asp http://www.lsac.org/LsacResources/Research/GR/GR-07-02.pdf