How much more would you, or did you, choose to pay for YLS over CCN?
I'm very much on the fence between YLS and a Hamilton Fellowship at Columbia. I received about $20k in financial aid from YLS, so my back-of-the-envelope calculation is that I would graduate YLS with $160k-ish in debt. I would graduate CLS with $80k-ish in debt (just for cost of living) -- $40k if I work at a firm my 2L summer, practically nothing if I snag a firm job for my 1L summer.
I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with my J.D., but I know I want to end up in New York -- ideally, a (2nd Circuit) clerkship followed by BigLaw litigation followed, perhaps, by a transition to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. I don't think I'm interested in academia (and in any case, I think at least part of Yale's large placement advantage here is due to self-selection).
With those (somewhat vague) goals in mind, do you think YLS is worth $80k more than CLS (with Hamilton on the resume)? $120k more? I'm having a lot of trouble quantifying Yale's added value. At sticker, I don't think Yale is worth it over the Hamilton, especially for someone who wants to work in New York. $20k in YLS aid seems to me just enough that the Hamilton is no longer the easy answer, but also not enough that Yale is the obvious right choice.
Lamest move ever = saying I'm around then not checking the site for a week. Sorry
I think your 80k figure is right, but your estimates of summer wages are off. I think it's more like 30-36k for a summer, but that's pre-tax and pre-overhead. You may not have factored summer rent into your budget elsewhere (most school budges include 9 mo. rent) plus you'll have other overhead unless you're eating other people's leftovers. Also, firm earnings might eat into your YLS finaid. (All YLS aid is need-based, they generally start reducing grants dollar for dollar on on the six-thousand-and-first summer dollar you earn. I might have this wrong, double check that with YLS finaid).
If money is your overriding concern, you might want to check stats for 1Ls getting firm jobs. I have no clue what that's like at CLS. I think people who wanted to go a firm 1L summer here got firm jobs. It required work because firms don't generally recruit 1Ls, but people got jobs. Our low 1L summer stats on firms reflect people's preferences, not options.
I have no idea how CLS places in BigLaw, though I assume that anyone with a Hamilton goes to the front of the line, so you're fine on BigLaw jobs either way. Assuming BigLaw is an automatic for a CLSer with a Hamilton is an automatic and assuming that a CLS and a YLS with 2-4 yrs in BigLaw and the same clerkship are equally poised to get an AUSA job in SDNY or EDNY (and consider EDNY, it's got some serious pros), I don't see a difference with the AUSA prospects.
YLS might have an edge in clerkships. We place well and our links to the Second Cir. are strong. Of course, I'm sure CLS will say something similar, and I really don't know how to compare the two. Of course, you'll have to factor in the changing nature of the clerkship process; it may well be that by the time you are on the clerkship market, practice experience is required for an appellate clerkship. (That's the dominant trend, though the Second Cir. has been slow to embrace it).
Looking at law school solely instrumentally, CLS may be advantageous for you. I would encourage you, though, to think about law school more broadly. CLS is a large school, Yale small. If you're interested in government, we have stronger links to DC than I perceive CLS to have, and you can access our faculty network relatively easy because of the small size of the school. By now, I assume you've visited both for their admitted students program, so you probably have a better feel of the culture.
I feel bad I got to your question late, but after reading everything I've said above, I don't think I've added much to the mix. I suppose I'd sum it up by saying that I don't look to law school purely for its instrumental purpose, but if I was - on your facts - I'd probably lean CLS.