I agree--but what is it worth in difference? I had 70k from Duke and Northwestern. So even there what would my prospects be as opposed to top couple people at my school? I think pretty similar with no debt vs 150/200k in debt.
That's hard to say, obviously. You don't know if you're just a law school savant and might have been #2 in the class from Duke/NW. In that case, you may have made a big mistake in choosing the regional school (by limiting your fed COA options and probably losing your USSC options). More likely, though, you would have been in the top 10 or 15 students (as opposed to #3 or whatever) and it wouldn't have made a difference. Probably, your gamble -- to take the money -- worked in your favor. Like with any gamble, it's a decision that will sometimes turn out well. The question isn't whether you COULD be better off choosing the regional powerhouse, or even whether people regularly turn out better in that scenario. It's whether the risk of things not working out is justified by the money differences. For me, well, it's more important to maximize my chances of having my choice career at whatever the cost. Had I been deciding between two non-T14s, that likely woulda led to bad decisionmaking and I fully recognize that. Had I had your choice, I woulda chosen Duke/Northwestern -- for me, the marginal chance that I could get a USSC clerkship or something similar, is worth $100,000 or so, given that my chances of being able to pay that back (via LRAP or firm) from a school like Duke/NW are really pretty solid. Not everyone values opportunities like that, though -- and perhaps I overvalue them. My point, though, is that everyone's going to value them differently, so how "good" a choice is depends a lot on how much you value things like that.