It would probably make more sense to talk about a rather dynamic "tier 1", that could be adjusted every year to include the schools that stand out from that crowd. One year it might be 13, next it might be 16 (yes, yearly major changes not very likely)... Or hmm... rankings are bad.
They both lead and mislead in my eyes. Although I recognize there's a need for some system in 198 schools, I'm just not thrilled about the way USN does it, for many reasons. I'd rather see a ranking made by ABA or AAL, but I guess that would be a bit too close to home, and would create some drama. At least some independent rankings. But yeah, any statistics can be manipulated no matter who does it. I'd also like to see a bigger focus on who comes out out law school and less focus on who goes in. It really isn't relevant that you have a bad GPA and LSAT if you come out as a brilliant lawyer, just like a 4.0/180 isn't relevant if you turn out to be a socially inept schmuck. But yeah, nothing is perfect, I guess USN is what we have to deal with, and rather to some extensive research ourselves.
Maybe, maybe not. But you have no basis of making that assumption, and that is my point.
I think you entirely fail to see my point. I believe what you say are to a large degree a result of the rankings being as they are. A firm will often prefer a person in the 25th percentile at Columbia over number 1 at Cardozo because "Columbia" looks better on their webpage, and you can't for a second make me believe that correctly reflects their abilities. You are taking the result of the ranking and turning it into a part of the ranking, which is horribly incorrect. With the exception of bar passage rate, the USNWR says absolutely nothing about the quality of students coming out of the schools. Is it likely to assume Columbia's alumi are on average better than Cardozo's? Yes. Is there a reasonable basis for assuming close to everyone coming out of Columbia are better than anyone coming out of Cardozo? No, not even close.