Yes, maybe the firms don't care, and maybe they do care. I do not work for a firm, and therefore I do not know, nor do I pretend to know, what it is they use as criteria for hiring. Why is Yale number one? Who knows. At the end of the day, regardless of rankings, IMHO good schools are considered good schools because of perception. All law schools teach the same things, but its because they are perceived as elite law schools that they are able to attract the best students, the best faculty, and the best employers. I suppose this is not limited to UNSWR, this is a problem with how people find the need to have hierarchical ordering systems. You said it yourself, "Yale is the best law school" and it is the best because it is the best, because people perceive it to be the best. If one day all the 180s applied to cooley, and all the employers OCI at cooley, and all the Harvard Alums go teach at cooley, and everyone put all their faith and money into cooley, then cooley would be the best. The system of law school prestige, regardless of USNWR, is a faith based system. It exists because people believe it exists
Except not. In your system, Cooley would be a damn good school because they would have recruited some of the brightest students and professors/legal minds in the country. Thus, them being seen as awesome would be because they would be awesome, not because people believe
You are missing the nuance of my point. Its basically a self fulfilling prophecy. In order for all those 180s, employers, and teachers to go to Cooley; they would have to believe that Cooley was "worth" it. At the point where they all act on that belief, a belief that is based on perception, then their actions make that belief a reality. Then, Cooley does become realistically awesome, but only because people first perceived it to be that way and acted on that perception. Its like God or the Stock Market, Stock doesn't have value until people believe in it, then they give it value. "Oh I think this technology will be awesome, so I put money into it, and then lo and behold because i believed in it it actually did become awesome" Etc.
I'm most certainly missing the "nuance" of your point. Are you making the (fairly benign) claim that beliefs (which I'll suppose encompasses things like literal propositional beliefs as well as dispositions, desires, values, etc) drive persons to action (so that action is not an entirely random and arbitrary result of the will or whatever), or are you making the much stronger and in my opinion entirely dubious claim that beliefs (defined however strongly or weakly you want) are somehow, mysteriously, transforming "reality"? You used the example of God; if such a being exists, I'd wager, he exists independently of our perceptions of him. I think maybe you're claiming that "perception and beliefs" influence our value judgments (e.g., is Cooley great or trash?), but that's not a very impressive observation, in terms of having consequences which influence this conversation.
I'm trying to use your language here, which is admittedly difficult, because you seem to think you have an undeniable point but I can't say I know what it is to begin with. I mean, of course people would be choosing to go to Cooley (students/faculty/firms) based on some sort of mixture of perception and belief (in a very general sense of that term). I'm not sure what you think you're refuting here.
I guess you're just saying that Cooley only becomes "objectively awesome" if people first perceive it to be that way.
But that's an entirely questionable claim. It could be, for example, that some Harvard faculty member moves to Detroit due to familial circumstances; seeing something humorous in the situation, they decide to accept a position at Cooley. After a change in administration, Cooley reevaluates its business model, and cuts its class size by 90%. After a game-changing publication by previously mentioned faculty member, a slew of new hires eager to join this new wave, fresh out of Yale, Stanford, and RIGOROUS Chicago, join the ranks of Cooley. Seeing that they've somehow managed, incidentally, to gain an all-star faculty, Cooley's administration changes their LSAT/GPA requirements. Thanks to a generous store of cash from its TTT days, Cooley is able to offer 100% free tuition to a new wave of students with decent numerical statistics in its small class size; the value of these students reaches the ears of local and further away employers, and Cooley has a decent 2020 OCI.
I could go on. This example is ridiculous, but not impossible in any strong sense. And Cooley's value is only being perceived to rise as it actually does rise. So again, not sure what your point here is.