LSD is great. Everyone's comments have been super helpful. Now, that my cycle is pretty much over, I am posting more details about myself in the hope of getting better advice from the LSD community. It seems like everyone is in agreement that YLS is better than Columbia in terms of academic placements. For me, however, I am afraid that the situation may be a bit different. I graduated this fall with a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard. I have experience publishing science and history of science papers, and I am hoping someday to become a professor of law. As you might imagine, I hope to specialize in health law and biolaw (and science and technology law more generally). The problem with Yale is that it seems that science and technology law is not one of their strengths. Stanford, on the other hand, seems to be particularly strong in this area. How much of a difference does this make? I don't know how much time I will have to pursue independent research as a law student, and I don't know how much having professor's interests match yours (and classes that match your interests) matters when preparing for academic jobs. For graduate school in biology, it would be crazy to go to a school where none of the faculties research interests match yours, no matter how prestigious the school or the program overall. I suspect it's not quite the same for law school. If anyone has thoughts on this I would much appreciate it.
I also just added a post to the Where-Should-I-go-Next_Fall area of LSD entitled "Best for academic path in health and biolaw: Yale, Stanford, CLS, HLS, or Boalt?" I would be much obliged if you responded to either thread.