KMart wrote:you should be alright at either option for Chicago. My guess is your chances are better at NU and M than UVA but that could be self-selection bias for students at UVA who don't go to Chicago
What about DC? How do each of the 3 do in DC biglaw?
NU sends some people in DC every year, but it's a tougher path for those who want to go there than those looking to stay in Chicago, go to NY, or CA. DC is more competitive from here, probably in part because not all that many DC firms come to OCI (compared to Chicago and NY firms, anyway). It's doable, but significantly harder to land in DC from NU than from UVA. M doesn't have stellar DC placement either, but 10-15% of the class tends to end up there. Based on friends at both schools who want or went to DC, I don't think placement power is significantly different there between NU and Michigan. Michigan folks are also pretty common in Chicago, but it doesn't come close to NU's placement power locally.
All that said, the differences between the three aren't so great that any one is worth paying significantly more for than the others, especially if you're open to either city. Take whichever lands you in less debt.
And re: ties, having family in Chicago or an SO you're moving with probably takes care of that. I had no ties to Chicago before coming to law school here and had no trouble getting interviews, and the extent of the "ties" conversation in every interview was simply my stating that my spouse uprooted a career to move to Chicago and we don't intend to do that again. I'd think growing up there and saying you'd like to stay close to your family in the area would cover you. I suppose ymmv there, though; just wanted to offer my experience since others mentioned ties being an issue.