My $0.02:As my moniker indicates, I am Chapman student (Rising 2L now), but I just wanted to clarify the truth that there are legitimate reasons why Chapman is ranked significantly lower than Loyola, let alone UCLA and USC. The most prominent of these are related to the age of the law school. That is why Chapman does not have the same alumni base, reputation, and overall distinguished faculty as the others. And that is why only the very top of the class at Chapman has a shot a shot at a top firm. A goodly number of Chapman grads will get very nice starting jobs, but only a small handfuf will make $120,000+ straight out of law school. I don't know the numbers, but I'm pretty sure that at least half the class at UCLA could make that, and probably at least 20 percent of Loyola grads. That said, Chapman is on the rise. Each year the alumni base grows (obviously), the faculty improves in both quality and prestige, and the students are of an overall higher caliber than those from the previous year.
I don't believe that choosing one school over another because of likely salary is foolish. This is precisely the reason why I would choose Loyola over Chapman, that and the probability of getting into a firm. Also you are partially correct- USC is very unlikely to grant me permission to attend- Loyola is a strong possibility. I would choose stanford over any school, they would never have me either- so there goes your 'hunch.' For the last time I just like Pepperdine and Chapman more than Loyola. But would attend Pepperdine, then Loyola then Chapman because of Ranking whores like you rule the world.
Chapman is a good school. I like it more than Loyola and Southwestern, but would probably pick Loyola over it because of this whole USNEWS crap as well as Loyola grads making mo' $$$money. Honestly in a blind taste test I like #1) Pepp (2)USC & Chapman (4)UCLA and USD (6)Whittier & Cal Western ( Southwestern (9) Thomas Jefferson (10)La Verne (11)Western State. These ranking are not based on any methodology and are not based on the real world, especially since USC and UCLA won't even return my calls.
For what it's worth - I met a 3rd year from Chapman last night who said she really liked it there... she also said she really enjoyed her summer internships too. She said she chose Chapman over other higher ranked schools because she wanted to stay in Orange County.