When speaking to an NYU Alum ('07) about UCLA vs. NYU, he provided me with this useful information:
Here is the bottom line: law school recruiting has changed. Fewer firms are recruiting and whether that is going to change any time soon remains to be seen. That said, NYU has really not suffered (along with Yale, Harvard, and Columbia). I remember what a friend of mine at Columbia said: it's always good at the top. I'm not sure about UCLA's recruiting by I can tell you that [my firm] has 2 UCLA grads compared to 80 NYU grads. And that's not just an East Coast bias thing. If you look at Latham & Watkins which is supposedly California's most prestigious firm there are only 3 UCLA grads vs. 93 NYU grads. Even at West Coast firms such as Gibson Dunn which has a large UCLA population, NYU has placed more lawyers, not to mention that 95% of the UCLA grads at Gibson Dunn work in California whereas the NYU grads work in their NY, California, D.C. and even Dubai office)
This information was also supported by some contacts my father had with some UCLA alum, both of which have done well in their careers (one is a partner at an NLJ250 and the other recently left the firm to work in-house). They remarked (paraphrased):
Go to the best law school you can get into, even if it means passing up money to go to "good" law school (like UCLA). The opportunities afforded to graduates from the top 5 law schools cannot be matched...even in bad times those graduates will still get jobs, and the same cannot be said from those who graduate from law schools that are outside the top 5 (or 10)
Regarding finances, this NYU alum confirmed the benefits that we all suspect of a career in biglaw, noting:
Believe it or not I have only ~$65,000 of debt left being moderately studious with my repayment...I could literally write a check to pay off all the loans but I see no reason to do that...money should not be a consideration when choosing a law school. I know people who took the money and ran and are now out of work. So yes, they didn't have debt, but they also didn't have jobs which definitely hurt their careers early on.
Of course, these are only a select sampling of opinions from people I've talked to and I don't mean this to imply that you should never choose a school like UCLA over CLS/NYU (in fact, I still haven't decided). Additionally, each and every person I talked to said that debt still mattered. However, it wasn't the life-governing burden that they expected it to be and the t14 schools all had available programs that allowed them to choose public interest jobs if they were so inclined. I also found this article to be useful http://www.law.com/jsp/law/careercenter/lawArticleCareerCenter.jsp?id=1208256428026.
Anyways, that's enough from me, hopefully the above information helps at least ONE person.
EDIT: the NYU alum made a research error and searched for UCLA instead of UCLA School of Law. There are actually 91 UCLA Law alum at Latham & Watkins.