Regardless of everything else, all the people saying "just work hard and make top X%" are giving the worst advice possible. Grading in law school is not like undergrad, and you can't predict accurately, much less guarantee, where you end up. There are many people at these mid-low ranked schools working their ass off for the mere opportunity to have a bite at some interviews. The environment is competitive. Working hard isn't enough, being smart isn't enough, and knowing the law isn't enough.
Odds are you will not get the opportunity to transfer. Realistically, you won't have anything more than a long shot at biglaw either if you go to Villanova. If you're aiming for competitive PI or similar, the odds will be equally long.If you can't achieve your desired outcome at median, you probably will not achieve it at all.
I'm pretty positive everyone in my class who was on law review got a big law job, and if they didn't they got a clerkship. I don't know anyone who was on law review who is unemployed. The main firms people work at are Pepper Hamilton, Blank Rome, some Skadden (Wilmington), some Dechert, etc. Villanova has huge placement success with big law in Philly, so I REALLY would not dismiss it. The only reason I'd recommend against picking Villanova is if you wanted to go into public interest. That's not the case here, so I think you'd be making a mistake to wait and holdout for Penn. But hey, feel free to ignore me.
Getting on law review is like ending up in the top 10%: you can't guarantee or predict it. The better students will have a better shot, but that is all. Law review in no way guarantees career success, either. The fact is that Villanova places 15% of its students into biglaw and less than 1% into federal clerkships.
Not a long shot at all. Class size is down at Nova, last incoming class was maybe 160, and they need to take more than 10% on law review in order to staff the board positions the way it has been when for example my class size was 220. Thus, out of 160 people, probably 30-35 people will end up on law review. Again, that's 30 people out of 160. That's really not a long shot. Class size is an important consideration.
Work hard, study hard, take advantage of academic success resources, go to professors during office hours, actually go to your TA sessions and do practice exams, use supplements... do what you have to do, and you'd have no issue unless you really are not that smart and law school is not meant for you. I was a TA for the 1L classes throughout my 2L and 3L year, and the students who do well are consistently the ones who actually put the work in and take advantage of the resources offered to them. Most people don't because they think they can figure it out themselves. Success in law school is really not as arbitrary as people go on about.
Also, a solid handful of people in my year transferred to T1 schools, so that's also not impossible either. Not everyone wants federal clerkships either. If you are set on a federal clerkship, yeah, 100% you're better off at Penn. That's not everyone though. While it's extremely fascinating to listen to people who didn't go to Villanova talk about Villanova's employment rates, unless you went to Villanova you're just basing your advice on incorrect assumptions. Philly is a tiny legal market, Villanova has a huge presence, and that's a fact.