A number of Penn students transferred into NYU this year. Must be something to it (unless they just wanted to go to school in NY, as opposed to Philly).
Look at the roster of any top firm office in NYC. Count the number of NYU folks compared to Penn folks, and you will understand the benefit of picking NYU over Penn, if a top firm is your goal. Of course, a student from Penn with solid grades will get many offers from great NYC firms. No one denies that. But they just tend to bring in NYU grads in greater numbers.
Many Penn students don't want to live in NYC. Even if they get jobs with NYC firms, they may be lateraling out after a few years. People who stick around NYC have to be those who love to live in the city.
Do the comparison this way:
only 40% of Penn students go to NY (state) after graduation. That's roughly 100 students per class. Many of them may have gone to NY because they are going to their safety firms (because NYC has all the jobs). Once they get their career started they may be actively looking to move out of the city. Compare that with 63% for NYU class of 2011 to NY = 280 grads, most of whom love to to live in the city.
So there is already an almost 3:1 advantage in graduate numbers, I wouldn't be surprised at all that the 5 year out numbers are 5:1 or 6:1.
The other thing is, at the uber selective firms, there really is little disparity in terms of the number of partners when you correct for class size. At WLRK, CSM, and S&C the ratio is 2:1, which is slightly better for NYU than the actual class size.
I tried to look up non-NYC elite boutiques, but KVN's site was down and BB and Susman don't have good search functions. But at W&C, there was a 7:1 ratio in Penn's favor.
So as far as placement into the most elite firms, Penn holds its own in comparison to NYU. This is especially true given R6's analysis of NYU's placement into NYC.