I do have sympathy with your scenario, specially since I will probably not get in to a T1 myself But honestly, what you are stating should be pretty much obvious to anyone who has actually researched this education before starting it. Yeah, a top school is going to cost you easily $100k or more extra, but the fact that your career choices will be so much more open and very likely so much better paying, it really should be a nobrainer unless your finances are completely screwed before going into law school.
This is depressing...a 4th tier school in my community is very well respected. I think thats true for a lot of 4th tier schools, that they are respected by the community, even if not a nationally recognized school. Guess this only matters if you have roots.