This is fairly long and full of typos I simply post on breaks typing stream of conscious and do not feel like proofreading this, but I hope some of it is helpful.
Before I say anything realize I or anyone else posting on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, your likes/dislikes, or goals, and this is a life altering choice that will significantly alter two years of YOUR life, 80-100k of YOUR money, and impact YOUR legal career.
With that said I will offer my anonymous internet poster opinion and take it for what it is worth. From the limited info you mentioned it seems like rankings are playing a major factor in your decision so I will address that first.
Remember first and foremost that U.S. News is nothing more than an unregulated, for-profit magazine, offering an opinion. Donít make a life altering decision based on what they think. Case in point U.S. News ranks more than just law schools. According to U.S. News Albuquerque New Mexico is the best place to live. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/real-estate/articles/2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009
. New Mexico might be an awesome place, but I am not going to move there based on a magazineís opinion and you shouldnít make a life altering transferring law schools based on it either.
I suppose Hofstra is better than Barry in the rankings, but I personally know nothing about either school. Rankings seem to matter much more to law students, OL's and anonymous internet posters than in the real world. I'm sure there is a firm out there that really cares Hofstra is in the middle of the pack while Barry is a Tier 3/4, but very few would likely care.
Furthermore, even if rankings matter they change drastically year to year. When I started law school years ago my school was in the 70's through time it went down to tier 3, back up, down, and last year was in an 11 way tie for 84th place. I could care less what it is ranked now. The name of my school has never come up when litigating a case, figuring out a client's problems, etc. Once you walk across that stage and hopefully pass the bar your licensed and your ability to be an effective advocate will be much more important than whatever name is stamped on your diploma. TRANSFERRING THINGS TO REALLY THINK ABOUT:
After 1L I had the opportunity to transfer, but choose not to. Many other students choose to transfer and from my experience with only 20 or so people most were unhappy with their decision. Two even transferred into T-14 schools and they both regretted it one is now unemployed and has been for some time. (Does that mean everyone who transfers ends up unemployed? Absolutely not that is ONE situation at ONE school and this person was "unique" to put it nicely which is probably why so little success has come their way. REASONS WHY THE FEW PEOPLE I KNOW REGRETTED THEIR TRANSFER DECISION:
Several transferred cross country not knowing anybody, rushing to find an apartment in a city they were unfamiliar with. On the first day of 2L they didn't know a soul and everyone at their new school already went through the 1L process and had their social clicks. As the new anonymous transfer student they did not know a soul, they were in a new city, and it was a pretty lonely experience and their final years were miserable.
If your really an outgoing person and can insert yourself into a group then that doesn't matter, but most people don't have that ability. You know whether you do or don't so use YOUR judgment. GOING FROM SCHOOL STAR ANONYMOUS RANDOM GUY/GIRL IN THE BACK:
This is another factor to consider at Barry you likely did well and therefore have the opportunity to transfer. If you stay at Barry odds are you will graduate at the top of the class and if you stay a lot of the people in the top 10% or so will transfer and you will end up in the top 10% of the class even if you are only top 20% now. No expertise is required here as you can see if the your in the top 20% and the top 10% transfer you end up in the top 10%, which looks good on a resume from any ABA school.
Furthermore, many of the people I know that transferred had good relationships with professors, admins, and so forth when they left. The reason is most schools really try to be nice to their first year students, because they don't want them to transfer. Once your locked in for year 2 & 3 those people are focused more on 1L's again. If you are coming in as a random 2L having never meet anyone and committed for the final 2 years connections are unlikely to be formed. Again, if your a real go-getter outgoing individual that may not apply to you, but only you know your social skill set. NEGOTIATE FOR SCHOLARSHIP:
This was one of the main reasons I didn't transfer when the opportunity presented itself. I got the paperwork and got accepted at other schools and then made a simple request for more scholarship money. This was given to me and saved me another 25,000 over the next 2 years and 100,000+ in debt is 100,000+ in debt and when you talk to the financial aid counselor and see how much interest alone accrued you will probably be a lot happier if you stayed put. Debt is a real thing to consider and I would highly recommend negotiating for more money. If they don't give it to you then use that as a factor in your decision, but if you can get ABA degree free it is something to consider. THE REALITIES OF LOCATION:
I don't where your roots are, but consider the location. Your in Florida now and maybe you grew up there or maybe your from New York. You say you understand the importance of location, but a lot of law students think they understand this and as soon as schools over and they are in a Bar-Bri class without a fresh student loan distribution coming their way the reality of location sets in.
If you want to be in Florida, you have friends in Florida, family in Florida, and so forth when you graduate those people will be there to help you. Most recent graduates in all professions particularly law school need help out of the gate. In law school it is particularly important because the bar comes up right right after graduation and if everything goes perfectly and you pass on your first try you will be out of work for the first 6 months after graduation. If your friends, family, and so forth are there to help you get through that time it will be very welcomed
If on the other hand you move to New York where you donít know a soul, meet nobody in your new law school, have no family, and are paying 2,000 in rent for a shoebox in Queens you will miss all the people that would have been their to help you had you stayed.
Those are things to think about if you have family, friends, etc in Florida. Obviously none of that matters if you don't, but just think of the realities of location in this decision. You should just dismiss it really think it through, and apply your own situation. CONCLUSION:
In my anonymous internet poster opinion I would advice against transferring, but I know nothing about your or situation. However, I am posting because in my experience law students myself included donít think things through all the way while in the shelter of law school and make life altering decisions based on U.S. News & anonymous internet postings. Now that I am out of law school none of that makes much sense, but that is my own opinion. However, I could be 100% wrong about everything and neither I or anyone else posting on here as any repercussion for being wrong. I am just typing stream of conscious on a break from work.
Good luck whatever you decide and congrats on getting through the first year.