3 months later . . . .First off, I went to UVA undergrad and my wife is a PhD candidate at UChicago (I also lived in the close-in DC burbs for 3 and 1/2 years after undergrad. The U of C scene is not fun - there are 3 bars, all of which are pretty lame and dominated by hard-core intellectuals in thick, dark-rimmed glasses. I've met some really nice people here, but not so fun. I lived in Hyde Park for 9 months; I've been on the North side for a year and a half now, which is much more fun than DC, but it's a serious hike from Hyde Park.UVA is fun. I was in a Jewish fraternity (ZBT), so we probably had a disproportionate share of New Yorkers, but there was a great friendly north-south rivalry there. Charlottesville is a great mid-sized town with clearly delineated bar scenes for undergrads (the corner) and grads/yuppies (downtown mall). Although it's in rural VA, it's a different world; I grew up in Waynesboro (1/2 hour west of UVA), and THAT town is redneck. UVA law especially is a national school - you won't feel out of place as a southerner.I'm just hoping I have the UVA option - it's my #1 choice easily over U of C (and I have a couple connections here, so I might have a shot). Good luck - you can't go too wrong.
UChicago and Northwestern Law are not that far apart. UChicago is in Hyde Park, and while it is near some sketchy neighborhoods (it's in the South Side), Hyde Park itself is a nice neighborhood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Park%2C_ChicagoNorthwestern Law is on the North Side, right on Lake Michigan, on Lake Shore Drive, which is very near to the touristy, expensive Magnificent Mile. Not many people actually live there. It's more shopping and office buildings. The neighborhood it's in is called Streeterville.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_North_Side%2C_Chicago#Streeterville