elmagic wrote: it doesn't matter for that person if Michigan can place 80% into "biglaw" if only 30% is in NYC. While at a school like Cornell that places almost exclusively into NYC, if 80% are placed into biglaw, then it is more likely that the vast majority are being placed in NYC biglaw.
Like I said earlier, people may want to work in Atlanta, Birmingham, or the midwest for a less money, but for someone interested in NYC biglaw, that stuff is irrelevant. Now the more interesting question is self-selection, but that would just get into hypotheticals.
You both acknowledge that there is self-selection, yet act as if there is no there self-selection. I know for a fact that there are several Michigan 2Ls who had NYC Biglaw offers that turned them down for other market Biglaw offers. It does not matter that "30%" or "80%" of the class actually
goes to NYC biglaw.
The only thing that matters is what percentage of Michigan (or Cornell) students could
have gotten NYC biglaw. To determine this, you should look at the NYC firms interviewing at both schools, their grade cutoffs, and the relative ease of getting those interviews. As I discussed (a) and (b) are going to be very similar for both schools. (c) Cornell has less people which is an advantage and Michigan has people who do not only want to end up in NYC which is an advantage. These two effects likely cancel each other out. It therefore does not matter if you go to Michigan or Cornell if you want to end up in some NYC biglaw firm.
This entire discussion also overplays the importance of school/grades in getting biglaw. Yes, school/grades matter, but as a threshold requirement. If person X is roughly median from Cornell and person y is median at Michigan, and that is the only difference between X and Y, they both will have the same chance of getting NYC biglaw. The probability of person X and Y actually getting NYC biglaw will, however, depend on a whole host of non-school criteria: Did they bid well? Do they interview well? Did they mass-mail? Are they on law review/ a journal? What work experience do they have? Where did they go to undergrad? etc. These non-school factors will be significantly more determinative than any difference in school.
Also, this itself is not a great way to choose a school. While a 0L may greatly prefer NYC Biglaw > all other market Biglaw, they also should prefer getting a job > not getting a job (in any market). To wit, as you yourself have stated, these two schools have very similar employment outcomes. As such, other factors should determine which school they go to.