I've read a TON of news stories about a "law school bubble" and how so many grads, even from top 15 schools, are struggling to find work. If that's really the case, I'd take the full ride.
In fact, this one in particular talks about GW's own law school:George Washington Law School's Unemployed Grads Are Costing The School $3 Millionhttp://finance.yahoo.com/news/george-wa ... 00168.html
However, if you really want to spend the rest of your life living and working around DC, you should probably go to a local school.
I couldn't disagree more.
Don't worry about the debt, go the best school you can get into. If you are torn between two, go to the school that is nearest the location you plan to practice in.
Law school is 3 years long, and expensive no matter where you go. However, better schools have better placement systems and more job opportunities. There is a reason that "unemployed" GW grads are costing the school $3M per year in paid internship programs... It's because the school BELIEVES in their education and they are willing to have "school funded internships," which makes their grads better lawyers and better employees in the long-run.
Even if it costs you $20k per year in tuition to go to a better school, you should find a job faster and you should make more money going to the better school.
I can say for certain that I speak with law grad after law grad and their biggest regret is not going to a better school when they had the opportunity. I know former law grads that took full rides at Cooley over MSU and UofD and are regretting it now.
I don't regret my decision to go to UofD law, but I did get accepted to MSU/DCL (which is now only MSU, and that is how my degree would have read. The DCL [Detroit College of Law] title was dropped in 2009). MSU School of Law would have looked a lot better on my resume. That said, I always planned to practice locally, UofD has better local alum. support, and UofD had the best writing program in the state. Growing up in the ghetto, writing was always been a weak point of mine. I went with the school that best catered to my biggest weakness and provided the greatest alumni support in the area that I plan to practice. I suggest you do the same. If you don't have a glaring weakness, go to the best over-all school. (For most law students public speaking is their biggest weakness. I have never minded making a huge a-s-s of myself on a big stage, but a lot of people do. There are schools that are more geared toward mock trials and instances that put you in front of crowds if you do have that weakness, and aspire to one day be a litigation attorney.)