Columbia if you can swing about $20k from them. UVa is arguably (along with Boalt) the worst T10 school for BIGLAW. That said, it still is an amazing school and you will get an amazing experience. If you really hate NYC and get offered money from Columbia, then still go to UVa, but your career options will be better coming from CLS - no doubt about that.
Placement? UVa allows pre-screening and Boalt's strength is more in PI. In any event, they are both great schools and being at the bottom of the T10 in terms of BIGLAW placement in nothing to be ashamed about. But UVa's class size, along with pre-screening, 25th percentile starting salary, and a crappy experience by XO'ers getting jobs at OCI last year at UVa lead me to believe it is at the bottom of the class for T10 schools.
Towelie, just curious, but do you think that self selection has anything to do with UVa's placement? It seems like a higher number of their students self select into secondary markets with lower salaries and possibly better QoL...just a thought.
First off, secondary market does not alwasy equal lower pay. I'm working in a secondary market this summer as a 1L and am making more than the 25th percentile of UVa students. Second, while self-selection may have something to do with it, lower paying firms do not have better QoL. I know too many lawyers from Florida Law who are working at lower paying firms and putting in 9am-7pm/8pm hours during the week and one weekend day. I think there's a big myth that midlaw pays less because the QoL is better.
While some may be self-selection, UVa's pre-screening system, coupled with a larger class size, being a state school, and trouble getting jobs from the recent class all lead to believe that even if you account for self-selection, it still is nowhere near CLS in terms of firm placement.