Before I give any advice realize that I or anyone else posting is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you so take whatever I or other posters say with a grain of salt.
First congratulations on being the top 3% that is an amazing accomplishment at any ABA school, and now I will give some anonymous internet poster advice, which I think any prospective transfer or OL should consideration location, cost, realities of legal education, your personal feeling about the school, and the lack of importance U.S Plays in the real world (at least in my limited experience having gone through law school.) LOCATION NOT MUCH OF AN ISSUE
I am not familiar with Chicago, but I am assuming these two schools are in close proximity to eachother so you would be able to maintain your friends, apartment, and so forth. I have many law student 1L student interest think about moving cross-country to transfer and that is rarely a good idea considering law school doesn't exist in a vacuum and adjusting to a new city, being away from family, etc can be a difficult experience. COST
I am not familiar with either of these schools and I couldn't tell you which school is better than the other and nobody really can, but one thing is always certain cost will be there and if your going to accrue an additional 40,000 or 80,000 whatever is dollars which is accumulating 8% interest really think about whether or not is worth it. If a resume came on my desk from JMLS or Chicago-Kent I can honestly say I don't know the difference, but you will feel paying an additional 80,000 or whatever it may for two years while is accrues interest.
One thing I recommend anyone considering a transfer do is request scholarship money or an increase in scholarship money. I would recommend going through the process of applying as you seem to have done and see if JMLS will give you more money to stay. I received additional scholarship money by doing this and it may save you an additional 20k and it is a nothing to lose everything to gain situation, but be very wary about the costs. PERSONAL FEELING ABOUT THE SCHOOL:
I had the opportunity to transfer after 1L, but choose not to because I made a lot of friends, had good rapport with professors, and generally liked my school. Many of my friends that transferred went into a new school not knowing a soul, not knowing professors, and as you must know law school is a bit clickly and everyone that went through the 1L experience together will have formed their bonds and you will kind of be out of the loop.
You may think that is fine and hate law students, you have a very outgoing personality and meet people instantaneously, or this could be very detrimental to you it is a high personal opinion, but if you truly liked your school leaving it for a new one may be a bad decision. At the very least visit the other school talk to professors, students, and so forth and make sure it is a fit for you. You may have already done this, but really consider your own personal feelings. You have another two long years of law school and being in a place your comfortable is important.
Also as a side factor the other top students will likely transfer and your ranking may go up possibly to valedictorian. I was not in the top 3%, but the top 15% and after 2L ended I was suddenly I jumped several percentage points and I can only imagine this is because many of the people above me transferred. That is just a side though and being in the top 3% is pretty impressive regardless/ U.S. NEWS RANKINGS
I don't know if this is a playing a huge role in your decision or not, but please remember that U.S. News is nothing more than a for-profit, unregulated magazine offering an opinion. They rank more than law school as evidenced by them deciding Alburquee, 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
. That makes me think New Mexico might be a bit cooler than I thought, but I am not going to make a life-altering decision based on a magazine saying some place is great. You should use the same logic when deciding to transfer.
The rankings fluctuate so much year to year and when I was a law student I thought they meant something, but my school was tier 2 went to tier 3 one year and last year was in the amazing 11 way tie for 84th place. It has gone all over the place as every school essentially does except Harvard, Yale, etc. You might U.S. News is a factor, but do not make a life altering decision on it or do, but just remember it is a magazine nothing more. REALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION:
So many people considering law school ask me if X is a good school. The reality is legal education across the board is really the same. I imagine at JMLS you took torts, contracts, property, con-law, criminal law, criminal procedure, civil procedure, and legal writing or some variation on that and you will take all of those subjects eventually. In Torts you read Palsgraff, in Civ Pro you read International shoe and so did everyone at Northwestern, JMLS, Chicago Kent it is essentially the same across the board.
Although I do a lot of mock trial stuff now and did it while in law school and that is one of the few areas where different styles make a difference. If Chicago Kent fields numerous mock trial teams and that is your interest that is a consideration in their favor. Unlike the substantive law, which can only be taught in one way since there is only way to explain consideration trial ad is much more subjective and a school like South Texas dominates in competitions, but I'm sure most people I have never heard it, but they have an amazing trial ad program and I lost to them many times in mock trial competitions unfortunately.
TWO MORE YEARS+AFTER THE BAR YOU WILL SEE THE FRIVOLOUSNESS OF IT ALL MORE THAN LIKELY
As I stated I as a OL I remember being so caught up in rankings and even during law school and conintoually thinking X school was doing this or that. During my law school experience I got several internships and worked along people from all calibers of schools and in the end whatever school they went to didn't matter. If you don't finish a Bench Memo for a judge on time saying I was in the top of the class or I go to X school won't help you. The same is true in the real world try losing a client a million dollar contract and telling them, but I went to X school or I got in A contracts. I assure you they won't care or even know the difference.
You will probably come to realize this on your first day of BarBri when you see all the school sweatshirts appear and then after a week or two they slowly disappear as everyone freaks out and realizes they got to pass this test. Then you go out into the whole world and deal with clients and believe it or not most have no idea about any difference between School X or School Y. Think about when you go to a Doctor or Denist or whomever and they tell you they went to X school you generally have no idea. A few might be Harvard, UCLA, or something, but I really don't know anything about other medical schools or dental schools and I don't necessarily I like my dentist and my doctor I know they went to Med School and Dental School, but I have never heard of the schools, but they may be top 25 schools I just don't know what they are and most clients coming to a lawyer don't either they want their problem solved nothing more.
My advice might seem anti-transfer, but that is probably because I choose not to transfer and there are likely thousands of successful transfer stories and thousands of successful alumni from both schools. Remember above all else when transferring think of what is best for you don't listen to me, U.S., news, or any other anonymous internet poster. Your a person with your own unique circumstances and transferring or staying will have a tremendous impact on 2 years of YOUR LIFE, 40-80k of YOUR money, and YOUR legal career. Take all your personal factors into heavy consideration.
Good luck and congrats on being in the top 3%