Sorry mumofcad, I was sleeping all day and missed your q. Seems like loads of people jumped up though.
tbh, if I wasn't sure about Michigan when I got the call, I was within the next 24 hours. I really only have acquaintances there now, no one I would call a close friend or even a friend really, although a few are on my fb friends list. And they all came out of the woodwork when I posted a status update about it. It wasn't just that they did that not having talked to me in 2-3 years, though, but they were all so forthcoming and offered me any help I'd need in making my decision, etc. Not to say that Michigan isn't competitive, but I just got the impression that it's a very - as another poster put it - collegial type of competitiveness. I think a lot of people get the impression that the lower in the rankings you go, the easier it is to get top 1% because your competition is less stiff. However, it seems to me (and being a 0L, obviously take no stock in my opinion as fact) that at Michigan and some of the tippy-top law schools, there's still competition, but there's also the idea that there are jobs to be had for most of the class, and a lot of people aren't just gunning for biglaw, but they want to do clerkships or a number of different things so it almost seems to lessen the pressure? I have friends at TTTs and they have to gun for top 10% to have any shot at a legal job. It seems like at the higher ranking institutions, it would be great to be top 10% and there's a lot of people trying to get there, but if you're top 25% it's not dismal, and even top 50% means you'll just have to put in a little more effort in your job search than the others.
I suppose none of this is entirely unique to Michigan, as it can be said about most of the top schools. I guess I also felt more comfortable about going sticker to Michigan because the COL loans aren't going to be as painful as they are in NY or Chi. In fact, with the depressed real estate market, my mom has talked with me about actually buying a condo as opposed to renting. My SO was a bit hesitant when I told him about it because he wanted to live in NY or Chi because it will be easier for him to find a job in one of those places. (He's going to be switching careers since he works in UK gov't now, and when he moves to the States with me, he's going to try to get into IT.) He's really happy for me though (he said all of the mums in his office were comparing A-Level results of their kids today and he mentioned how I'm going to Michigan... don't think any of them really knew what it meant, but it was cute nonetheless) so I think these were fears that would have come out no matter where I moved.
On a personal level, I am one of those people aspiring for the elusive international law, but by that I just mean getting to move back to the UK with my SO so we can live near his family and our friends. (All of my college friends dispersed after UG, so I'd say I have more close friends in London proper than any other city in the world - NY is a close second). Harvard and Columbia would give me the best crack at this because they have English dual-degrees, but I am in no way getting into Harvard and probably not getting into CLS without a retake, either. I think NYU would open up international law as a concept better, but probably not England specifically, and Michigan has great externships and study abroad opportunities that I'm pretty excited about. *insert crack about bird law here*
And lastly, Michigan has a highly-derided feminist scholar on tenure who I've admired for quite some time. In fact, I love pretty much all highly-derided feminists the world over. It's hard for me to like anyone who isn't hated by a ton of people. That's my personal connection with the UM faculty, but they have so many that I think if you do some research, you'll find someone that you're equally excited to study with. That was like 90% of my LOCI if I remember correctly.
If you want me to look over your Why Mich, I have suddenly come into some free time, so don't be afraid to share! I'm not in competition anymore, so I promise to be fair and brutal.