I believe we all know there is a problem with legal education in this country. Typically it does not properly prepare you for the actual practice of law. Law schools tend to teach toward some type of Greek ideal and not toward any practical training. Now, Susan Cartier Liebel's Build A Solo Practice blog points us to survey published by the National Jurist that shows that our law schools are so busy pandering to the artificial ranking system established by U.S. News & World Reports, that they forget about the reasons that interest actual students in attending law school.
According to the article and Susan, students care about the quality of teaching (and I assume this means real in class teaching that prepares you to pass the bar and practice law), the bar passage rate (because if you cannot pass the bar on the first try what is the point), the ability to find employment, practical skills (and this cannot be highlighted enough), and faculty-student relations (or in other words, do your professors and does the law school care).
Law schools too often try to buy LSAT rankings and, to a lesser extent, GPA rankings. U.S. News cares more about what other law professors think than what average lawyers think about the school.
I personally think, as well, that the cost of education is a big factor.
If law schools would care less about competing to get closer to the reputations of Harvard and Yale, and concern themselves more with practically educating quality lawyers at a reasonable price, then they will always have enough applicants. And, if you are filling your available seats, who cares what U.S. News thinks.
Ultimately, most students do not want, and most students will not have the opportunity, to work for Big Law or the courts. Few will end up being law school professors. What they want is a good, cheaper education that teaches them to actually practice law (at least on a beginning level), that offers them a road map to build a practice, and that teaches them the bar exam.
Most do not really want to recreate Socrates standing on a rock in the middle of the amphitheater asking penetrating questions. Besides, most law professors are inherently bad at the process.
Frankly, I do not care how law schools are ranked by U.S. News. When people ask me which law school they should attend, my answer most often is that they should go to the one that accepts them. If they have multiple acceptances, then they have choices. If they have a choice they should go to an ABA approved school, and they should go to the one that is the most budget friendly and has the best bar passage rate.