First and foremost do not take anything you read on the internet from anonymous posters myself included very seriously. Law school is a highly personal decision and you are the only who truly knows what is best for you. I know nothing about you, your situation, your likes, dislikes, and neither does anyone that posted above or posts on any other discussion board. Realistically each individual at every single law school has a different experience some love their time and others hate it. I enjoyed my time at my tier 2 school and have had a pretty good legal career. There are other people from my school that hated law school, hate being a lawyer, and some that never passed the bar. I have met people that went to Harvard who hate their lives as attorneys and others that love every minute of it. I know people that went to Tier 4 schools that loved their experience and their careers and I know other T4 grads that never passed the bar and regret their decision. Point being what you make out of your school experience is much more dependent on you as an individual than the school you attend. Therefore, what some anonymous internet poster says myself included should be heavily scrutinized.
With that said I want to try and answer the original question, but take what I say with a major grain of salt my advice will be more things to think about than any concrete advice because this is your decision.
When choosing a law school the following are the factors to consider in my opinion.
2) How you personally feel about the school
4) If you have any specialty your interested in i.e. trial advocacy do these schools offer opportunities for that.
5) Then as a tie-breaker consider U.S. News rankings. I will break down each of these individually for you. Location:
It looks like you have this locked down if you want to be in L.A. going to law school in L.A. is a good decision. The commute is something to think about law school in the first year is very difficult and battling L.A. traffic will be a big distractor and you want to do well if you are going to have a 4 hour commute then that is really something to think about. I don't know much about L.A. or the schools listed, but be wary of that.
Again I don't know L.A, but some schools where I attended were far away from the courthouses, law firms, and getting any experience while in school was difficult. I was under the impression Southwestern was in the Heart of L.A. so you would be able to extern for a judge/district attorney/so and so on while in school. No matter what school you attend getting extern/intern experience is not that difficult they will hire you while in law school because it is often unpaid work, but you get some bullets on the resume which you need. Just think practically about that it sounds like you from L.A. and you would be able to see where the courthouses, government agencies, law firms are located. PERSONAL FEELING ABOUT THE SCHOOL
Every school has a culture to it just like any job you ever had. When I was selecting schools there were some that just rubbed me the wrong way and others that I liked. These were my own subjective feelings and what I liked about School X you might have hated and what I loved about school Y you might have hated it is a very personal choice and you are going spend three years of your life there. Go to the open house events obviously, but also show up and sit in the student lounge one day see how students act, go talk to a professor in their office hours, setup stuff with the administration, and see how you are treated and how you like the people you interact with. This is a 3 year likely 100k commitment and if your uncomfortable with a how a few interactions go at Southwestern, Chapman, or Pepperdine go then avoid it. If you love how things are at Southwestern and don't like it Pepperdine don't go to Pepperdine because U.S. News a for profit unregulated magazine said you should.
Main point of this is get a first hand look and let your gut decide whether you like the school or not. You will be there for 3 years and your personal opinion is what really matters not what I, a magazine, or any other anonymous internet poster thinks. COST:
This is a very real concern and as stated above be careful of scholarship conditions. This article does a great job of explaining how many schools run their scholarship program. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all
. It is pretty common to tell students maintain a 3.0 GPA and you will keep your scholarship. You got a 3.2 GPA from UCLA undergrad so you will clearly get a 3.0 at these schools is what they expect you to think. Most 0L's including those in the above article did and didn't ask questions. The way most law schools work is that only 35% of the class can get a 3.0. I don't know the exact conditions on your scholarship are, but those are VERY IMPORTANT. The reason is 100% of students at any ABA school Harvard to Cooley are smart, hard working, motivated, and 100% of students on the first day truly think they will be in the top 10%. 90% of them are wrong and there is a 90% chance you won't be in the top 10%, 80% chance you wont be in the top 20% so and so on. So ask questions about the Chapman scholarship what is the curve, how many students keep their scholarship, so and so on. BARGAIN WITH SCHOOLS FOR SCHOLARSHIP MONEY
After you have asked Chapman about the conditions bargain for better ones. Tell Southwestern you have a scholarship at Chapman and you want to know if they can offer you anything. Remember first and foremost that law schools are a business and you have numbers above the median at all of these schools. When you bought your Condo and spent 100,000+ on it you negotiated, bargained, and asked detailed questions. You should treat law school exactly the same way it is large financial, life, and time commitment. If Chapman or Southwestern doesn't increase your scholarship or give you better conditions worse case scenario is they say no and you haven't lost anything. I have never heard of a school taking admissions away or scholarship money away for asking for more. When I was going I got an extra 5,000 a year on top of my original scholarship it end up saving me 15,000 dollars in tuition simply by making a few phone calls. Bargain with these schools because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain and remember above all else these schools are business and your a customer get the best deal you can. REALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION & SPECIALITY PROGRAMS:
Just to clarify at the outset eduation at every single ABA law school is essentially identical. Whether you attend Harvard or Chapman you are going to take Torts, Civil Procedure, Contracts, LRW, Criminal Law, Con Law, Crim Pro or some slight variation on that in your first year. All law schools use the same text books and what you learn is the same. In Torts you will read Palsgraf, Civ Pro-Pennoyer, so on and so on. The professors at some schools might be more experienced, connected, entertaining, etc, but the essence of what you learn will be the same almost any professor at an ABA school particularly ones in a highly desirable area to live like Los Angeles will be phenomenal.
With that said if you have a particular interest in a certain area of law entertainment, trial advocacy, IP, whatever it may check out the course schedules of these schools. Schools do differ in their elective offerings and if you really want to be a trial lawyer you can ask how many mock trial teams the school has and see what classes they offer in litigation. Trial competitions were my main activity in law school so that is the example I use, but I imagine any of these schools based in L.A. would have a lot of entertainment law courses and have adjunct faculty that in the business and could help you out. Only consider this if you have a particular interest though many incoming 0L's and many practicing lawyers have no idea what type of law they want to do and often times you have to learn a new area everyday it is just part of the job so it is fine if you don't know what you want, but if you do check out the course schedules and reach out to the professors in charge.