"That sounds vaguely anti-intellectual. Shouldn’t students want to compete against the best, as opposed to dominate the weak? Sander and Yakowitz apparently believe that students shouldn’t 'trade-up' and transfer to better law schools if they have the opportunity."
Well, "crappiest" seems to be an exaggeration. It seems to argue for going to a law school where you will be in the high end of the LSAT/GPA numbers admitted. You don't have to be a big outlier, just nicely within the usual top end. Then work hard but comfortably and rank at the top of your class.
You know, some of us are — against our will — forced into essentially that strategy because our soft credentials suck. I know. I applied to law schools with a BFA degree, a painting major, 5 years of unimpressive day jobs, and the lack of savvy and sophistication to bullshit my way out of it in my personal statement.
Now, to look at another angle: Affirmative action pushes students into the opposite strategy. If Sander and Yakowitz are right, doesn't it mean that affirmative action harms those it means to help?