Out of curiosity - did anyone really receive a "large" envelopes? Both my admit letters came in thin envelopes containing a single page letter that said congratulations, give us money...
The Columbia envelope was so thin it actually scared me...it was full size (not folded) but at the time I reasoned that knew I probably planned on framing my rejection letters. Oh, the joy of sh*tting one's pants in the mail room
I'd guess that the more prestegious the school, the more the personal statement counts. Otherwise, the 25% LSAT at Columbia wouldn't be 166...there have got to be enough high scores out there for the top-5 to fill up with 170+...or maybe the test really was just that hard. also, those schools don't have nearly enough minorities to skew the #'s that much just on "affirmative action" (as the PR'ednecks like to say)
Definitely take Santa Clara...Pepperdine may be in So. Cal but it has a bad reputation there, is populated by people hostile to the liberal sensibilities typical of the bay area and (I'm told) has some connection to Kenneth Starr. Basically the place is less a serious legal institution and more of a diploma mill for wannabe evangelical social-engineers. SC is still in a great area and the community you'll be able to network with will certainly be connected to IP/patent work in So. Cal.