I heard this thread started up again...going to add my 2c on the stuff I remember, then probably get overwhelmed and disappear again
Disclaimer: I am also a 3L who started at UCH and transferred. I wouldn't take those of us here on TLS as a barometer for how many transfer. There are a ton of us who happen to be semi active but also happened to transfer during the c/o 2011 cycle.
As people have said previously, DO NOT EXPECT TO TRANSFER. I think I made one of the biggest transfer moves of UCH, and I have no clue how I did it. I was ranked #5, which was part of it, but after you hit top 10, at least for SLS, it's a total black box. Also, hitting top 10 is 50% work, 40% luck, 10% fairy dust...I worked hard, don't get me wrong, but on any given exam, the difference between an A- and an A is guessing what a prof has in his/her head. I did read professors writing before exams to get an idea of their style so I could imitate it, but heaven only knows if that's what worked or if it was the fairy dust.
My approach to law school: I was biglaw or bust. I went in knowing that with the help of my sugar daddy (read husband) we could have less than $20K in debt from UCH after year one. If I didn't get a 2L SA during OCI, I was going to drop out and work at the church of st. arbucks or something similar until I figured out what I was doing with my life. Because I had a supportive spouse, this was an option for me. Many people finish 1L not in the top, with $60K of debt which is hard to pay off, and having lost 1year in opportunity costs (plus the time it takes to pay back the loans to get to square 1). That is why some are depressed. I also had a firm 2 C drop out line - b/c heck, one C could bar me from a firm, two would certainly do so. Weigh the cost with your expected gain, and know that it's hard to hit the 160 number if you don't get the 2L SA. Think of what you could do with your current degree, and if the risk is worth it to you, jump away.
My experience with schollys: I had a decent chunk of change sitting in the bank about a year before I was going to go to law school. I looked into the numbers, and equity in a home was at the time not something factored into financial aid. SO, we bought a house, with a firm deadline of closing by Dec. 30. I then reported almost $0 in my bank acct, and got a $10K need based grant. [plus timing was lucky so we now have a nice piece of real estate, though my commute is for $h!t]. This worked well until I was in the top of the class. You get $5k for being top in your section, and another $5k if you are top 10 overall (to even out grading styles I guess?). Because this was $10K, I lost my "need based aid" so it was a wash, no additional $$ even for being #5, and bupkiss when I had my exit interview to transfer out (other than a nice story about small fish and big ponds which I mostly ignored...).
My experience with grading: seems to me like something has to be stacked. After first quarter, I'm pretty sure my LRW section of 10ish (12?) people had four peeps with 4.0s, maybe five. That could have been chance...but...
My experience with Levine/Lefstin/FIT: I actually really liked Lefstin, and found Levine's theatrics amusing. Lefstin is hard, no joke, but he's smart as a tack and willing to talk to you in office hours. Actually overall I found profs were very accessible and very interested in teaching as a profession, which was cool. FIT was awesome, but sounds like it isn't a choice anymore. I was a gunner (section award: gunner and proud of it) We did flock to that class, and had fun with it. Field is an awesome teacher. If she doesn't do stat classes anymore, take time to take something from her. She is super organized and knows her subject backwards and forwards.
edit: My experience with job hunts: not really relevant bc I did it elsewhere. I can say straight P's at SLS still lands biglaw, but you need to have a good personality (read: not an ass), and you aren't going to one of the big NY offices, or to SF (unless you really are persuasive, which some are). I visited people at UCH my first year out, but I do so less now, because my class seems depressed. Those who have jobs are afraid to chat about it too much because they don't want to rub it in for those who don't. Those who don't are scared about the future, depressed, and scrambling, and don't want to talk to that weirdo who left but doesn't seem to go away. It isn't a pleasant feeling, but that's an outsider perspective.
My experience with clubs: running club FTW. Awesome people, getting in shape, and stress relief. Go legal eagles. I've started the SLS auxiliary.
...open to questions, but sometimes I forget to check back here. Now that I've remembered this exists, I'll prolly be around for a bit, but if you PM me and I ignore you know it's probably because I realized that the Bar is coming up fast and had to go nervous-barf.