Elston Gunn wrote: By all accounts, it's really not the same. At Yale, it's roughly 50/50 H's and P's, so you only need to be in the top 50% to get an "A", and even bottom 50% almost all get "B"s. At the very least, you don't get screwed by one bad grade.
In the rest of your post, you're confusing two different things. If, like MoC said, you think you won't gun hard/well enough to make the top half of your class, you're better off at YHS than at UChi, even with the money difference. This isn't about "amazing" opportunities, but rather about getting any market-paying job at all.
The point you're bringing up is that, if you're at the top of the class, you have a greater range of opportunities at the very highest level from YHS. So, depending on the relative value for you of money and opportunities, YHS might be worth it at the top of the class as well.
I'm not coming down on one side or the other, but I certainly don't think "Take the money and run" is the obvious call, even in a case as extreme as mine.
ETA: I didn't respond to this before, but I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that the caliber of student at any T14 is different enough from YHS to think you'd do significantly better at one school rather than the other. GPA and LSAT are fairly predictive in very broad strokes, but the differences are so small between T14 schools that you can't conclude much from them.
I see your point on both of these things. It was my mistake for not realizing that MoC was making two separate arguments. I agree with the "if you're not going to gun hard enough/well enough" to be in the top half at another T10, you are def better off at HYS. Probably Y or S actually because of class size, and the devaluation of grades based on the way both schools utilize their grading systems.
I also would agree that coming top of the class at HYS gives you opportunities that you would not be able to get anywhere else. Maybe if you're also top of the class at another T10 it would come down to interviews or something, but top of the class at HYS can usually write their ticket.
My confusion was based on thinking that these were 2 similar things. In other words, one who is going to HYS because they're worried about their gunning ability/ capacity to work as hard as they can throughout LS also isn't someone who should be trumpeting the prestige of HYS and thinking that that prestige will be what gets them exceptional opportunities alone. It doesn't make sense. Even the HYSers who want elite clerkships or fellowships or academia need to bust their asses in law school so it's clear they've distinguished themselves in school and they have the credentials to prove it. That was my main point, that being in the middle of the class at HYS will certainly get you a job, but it won't get you a job that you couldn't have gotten by doing really well at some other less prestigious t14. If you want a job that is prestigious enough that its limited to HYS grads, then you're going to have to do darn well at HYS in order to get it.
I can't really respond to your ETA point with any authority. I would say that employers make an assumption in their hiring practices that contradicts some of what you said. The fact that some firms will take a middle of the class person from HYS when sometimes they won't even consider someone outside of the top 25% at Cornell suggests that some employers think that someone with a lower class standing at HYS is at least as capable as a top 25% person from Cornell. In other words, that HYS person might have been able to do significantly better at Cornell than they did at HYS for whatever reason. I do take your point about LSAT and GPA being only predictive in broad strokes, though. I honestly think a lot of it has to do with intangible factors like how well you resonate with the environment you're in, how supported you feel, how happy you feel, whether your life is such that you feel that you're able to devote as much time as possible to studying, whether there are academic programs that interest/ excite you, etc. I'm sure that this would be a difficult question for anyone but a transfer student to answer since people's academic experiences tend to be pretty limited to their own law school.
FWIW, I think I would probably take HYS over a Ruby if I were lucky enough to have those chances.