Have dreams of being a big city lawyer, shuttling between your Park Avenue apartment and downtown firm? Want to be in the hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan center?
Well, it's not impossible, but you might have a much better life ahead of you if you went the other route and worked in America's smaller towns. A new survey by Good Call looked at the best cities for recent law school graduates in terms of jobs, affordability, and cultural opportunities, and found a lot of lesser-known towns at the top of the list.
Get Ready for an Onslaught of Lawyers, Hot Springs, Arkansas
The Good Call survey didn't just look at the places where lawyers are likely to be paid the most. Instead, it surveyed a range of factors, including average salaries, job availability (based on Indeed listings), housing affordability for lawyers, and the number of arts, entertainment, and restaurant venues available.
Going by that criteria, what's the best place in America for law school grads? Hot Springs, Arkansas, according to Good Call. The town of just over 35,000 people (metro area: 97,177) is better known for its natural springs than its thriving legal industry. But, according to Good Call, Hot Springs has a decent average lawyer salary, at $126,140, and a fair amount of jobs. Couple that with affordable housing and decent amenities and it becomes number one.
Here's Good Call's top ten:
- Hot Springs, Arkansas
- Orlando, Florida
- Myrtle Beach, North Carolina
- Great Falls, Montana
- Fort Collins, Colorado
- Brownsville, Texas
- Los Angeles, California
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- South Bend, Indiana
Don't Pack Up the Station Wagon Just Yet
Of course, you don't have to give up on your city dreams entirely. You'll notice that Los Angeles made the top ten. And Pittsburgh and Nashville might not be Manhattan, but they're not exactly sleepy towns, either.
But maybe take the list with a grain of salt. Law.com's Karen Sloan spoke to Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, who said that the list "doesn't make any sense to me." McEntee pointed out that many struggling areas, like Burlington, North Carolina, made it high on the list. (Burlington came in at number 15.) "Burlington is in a poor county," McEntee said. "I can't imagine anyone making" $126,150 there, he said.
Importantly, Good Call's list relied on Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures, which exclude self-employed lawyers, the type of solo and small practitioners who often work in small town markets and whose income tends to be lower than their large firm colleagues.
- Smaller Towns Outrank Big Cities in This List of Best Places for Law Grads (ABA Journal)
- Small Towns That Pay Attorneys Big City Salaries (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Pros and Cons of Small Town Lawyering (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- 1 Year Later, How Are Those Rural Attorney Programs Working Out? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)