The US News has ranked my Law School (Washington & Lee) 23d in the nation. When I was there it was ranked somewhere around 18 each year. Others don't necessarily agree with the current assessment. Over at Volokh the rank shown is 15 and at Southern Appeal the rank is 18.
The rankings of schools never really effected me all that much. When I was choosing schools I came down to 4 possible choices: Creighton, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and W&L.
Creighton was a school which had always caught my attention. It was one the schools on my short list of undergraduate schools but all the other schools dropped to the side when I got accepted into Centre. Creighton just kept drawing my attention and to this day I could not tell you why. However, in the end the fact that I could not articulate what the draw was meant I could not choose it.
Kentucky was the logical choice for me as someone who grew up in Lexington. With a pedigree from U.K. and Centre all sorts of opportunities would have awaited in employment, politics, etc. But Kentucky played games with me. I was invited to compete for a scholarship and stipend. I submitted the necessary papers and was scheduled for an interview. I showed up on the allotted date and time and they had forgotten I was coming. A Dean took me off to a room and chatted with me; she asked very general questions and apologized for doing so, telling me that someone was going to get the professor who had read my curriculum vitae and would be able to follow up more specifically. The professor finally shows up with a file in hand (I assume it was mine) and starts asking exactly the same type of general questions the Dean had been asking. Suspicious, I threw in a control question along the lines of "I understand that the undergrad has some Arabic classes. Would I be able to take one or two on the side while at law school?" The professor looked at me like I was crazy and basically asked why I would want to do that (half my resume and serious life experiences at that time involved being an Arabic linguist for the Army and actually getting deployed to a war zone in that capacity). So I knew he had not even glanced at my curriculum vitae. After the interview they hooked me up with a very disgruntled student who walked me around the school, disparaging everything in sight, and finally dumped me in a law class for a hour. For the next several months I got letters from U.K. trying to get me to commit to U.K. law; most of them mentioned the possibility that I might get the scholarship and stipend. The problem was that, just by chance, I knew someone who knew the person who got the scholarship and it was long gone. I asked around a little more and the rumor was that they never, ever gave this scholarship to someone who claimed Kentucky as his native land. Even with all the games Kentucky played, it still came close to drawing me in because it was home. If one single thing had gone right . . .
Vanderbilt: The first thing Vandy sent me upon my acceptance was a booklet which explained how to play "Shooter Bingo" and told me where everybody got drunk. Now that I look back at it, it is humorous but at the time I was appalled at the lack of seriousness. Yes, as I sat in my room in my fraternity house with at least 10 Fosters in my fridge, I was being rather hypocritical. I also got a bad taste when I called down to ask some question I considered vital at the time (and cannot remember today) and got blown off.
W&L: W&L flew someone from Virginia to Centre in order to interview those of us interested in attending law school there. The lady asked insightful questions and answered my questions and concerns well. W&L offered me a partial scholarship. It was a small school and seemed to offer many of the things that I really enjoyed at my undergrad. It was also situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains (I am a big fan of mountain scenery - when my friends head to the ocean for vacations I head to the mountains). And, I must admit, there was some part of me that was drawn to go to the General's school. Everything seemed serious and professional which was something I was looking for in a graduate level experience. Of course, once I got there I found out about the Friday afternoon keggers outside the front door of the law school but by then I was happy to have them.