There are several things to consider when choosing a law school and it is a life altering decision, but one thign to really understand is that every ABA school will provide you with roughly the same education and job prospects. There are a few that will truly open doors i.e. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, but other than that it is much more up to the individual what they do with the degree with that said I think any 0L shoudl consider the following factors when choosing a law school. (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about the school (4) Understand the reality of legal education and a distant (5) U.S. News.
As shoreman mentioned if you want to live in Boston go to law school in Boston at a minimum you will be in the city you attend law school for three years and realistcally you will get an apartment, friends, internships, likely a romantic relationship, and take the state bar of the state you attend law school in.
Also what kind of person are you would you prefer living in a big city like Boston during law school can you handle the distraction, will you enjoy it, etc. Or will a smaller town be more your style only you know the answer to that, but really consider the location. 2) Cost & Scholarship Conditions
Suffolk 41k per year
Northwestern 49k per year
Seton Hall 45k per year
I noticed the 30k scholarship at Seton Hall, but what are the CONDITIONS? Typically it will say something along the lines of maintaining a 3.0 GPA. As a 0L this sounds like a piece of cake, but typically schools require you to be in the top 35% of the class you have a 3.0 GPA that is the "curve" you will hear so much about. The reality is everyone at an ABA school is smart, hard working, and motivated and 100% of them are sure they will be in the top 35%, but 65% won't be, which means there is a 65% chance you will lose your scholarship for years 2 & 3.
Every schools conditions differ, but ASK what they are and negotiate for better terms this NY times article does a better job explaining the scholarship conditions than I can http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/business/law-school-grants.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 3) Personal Feeling About the School
When I was a OL I visited many schools and as a law student I participated in mock trial competitions. I can tell you some schools I liked others I hated, but that was my opinion. It is very possible you will like what I hated and love what I hated. To determine YOUR personal feelings I highly encourage you to visit both campuses, interact with students, talk to professors, admins, etc. You will get a gut feeling about each and maybe you will like both schools equally, but you may also hate one and love the other, but really listen to that gut feeling where you attend law school is three years of YOUR life, $100,000 of YOUR money, and YOUR legal career and don't let a magazine or anonymous internet poster overrule your gut feeling.
4) Reality of Legal Education
The realty is what you learn at an ABA school is pretty much identical. Your first year will consist of torts, civil procedure, property, contracts, and criminal law. In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases and they do write separate opinions for different schools. You will read Palsgraff in Torts for proximate cause, Pennoyer v. Neff in civ pro to learn about notice etc .
You might have a few electives here and there, but the majority of your legal education will be identical no matter where you go. As for your IP courses I know in the Bay Area where IP is everything schools over a few IP courses, but realistically you can only take 4-5 specialized law school courses based on availability, scheduling, etc.
On top of that you can't really know what you want to do until you start law school. I honestly though IP was what I wanted when I started, but after the one course I dropped it and really liked trial advocacy, which all schools offer.
Bottom line is at any ABA school you will learn the same thing.5) U.S. News Ranking
You are making the common mistake that many 0L's myself included make by basing a life altering decision on a magazine. It is very important to realize that U.S. News is a for-profit, unregulated, magazine offering an opinion. Furthermore, their opinion changes from year to year
As you can see from 2009 until 2013 Kansas has gone from 65 to 86th and if you had been a 1L in 2009 you would have been attending the 65th best school, but somehow by the time you graduated in 2012 it became the 86th best. There is no rhyme or reason for this and review this chart to see how drastically schools change from year to year http://www.top-law-schools.com/rankings.html
. You can see Depaul is 80th then in the 90s, then back to 80's and this year in the 100's nothing has changed there over the last few years.
To further illustrate this point U.S. News ranks more than law schools 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
. Are you going to move there because U.S. News says so? I imagine not surely there is something good about New Mexico, but I would not alter my life because U.S. News says New Mexico is a great place to live. Similarly I would recommend not making the life altering decision on where to attend law school based on this magazine.
You can certainly use it as a tiebreaker and if you were debating Harvard or St. Louis then it might be a different story, but truly nobody cares about the ranking difference between the 65th or 80th best school especially since it is very possibly St. Louis could be ranked higher than Kansas by the time you graduate.Conclusion:
I cannot possibly tell you what is best and neither can anyone else on this board. However, your main question is the difference in rank worth it I really do not think so. Really consider the location, cost, and your personal feelings about each school. It will be a life altering decision and some magazine writers in Pennsylvania should not be the basis of it.
Congrats on getting into law school and good luck in your legal career.