September 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 271

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September 27, 2021

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Best States to Practice Law for Every Attorney

No matter what area of law you specialize in, there is no denying that the legal industry can be competitive. However, some locations can present advantages over others. While there are plenty of viable states throughout the country that can be good places for attorneys to practice law, some rise above the rest. When you’re wondering where to settle down, consider these five best states to practice law.

What makes location so important for practicing law?

Where you choose to practice law can substantially impact nearly every facet of your life and career. Some of the most significant factors include:

  • Cost of living: It probably won’t come as a shock to hear that some places are more expensive than others. If you settle in a costly metroplex, then you’ll likely have no choice but to choose only the highest-paying positions just to maintain a decent standard of living.

  • Network: Building an influential career as a lawyer often depends on forging long-lasting professional relationships with peers and mentors. Your location can affect who you interact with and how much networking you can do.

  • Salary: While lawyers may have a reputation for earning sky-high wages compared to other professions, that is not always the case. In states where demand for lawyers is low, you may not be able to command as competitive of a salary as you would in a bustling city.

  • Job saturation: It’s a simple fact: law firms earn more business in some places than in others. The amount of demand for legal services and competition for local clients can impact everything from your annual profits to the fees you can charge. 

What are the best states to practice law?

Consider these five states as some of the best places in the country to practice law.

5. Connecticut

Connecticut may seem to be an odd choice as one of our picks for best states to practice law on the surface. After all, the Constitution State has seen its population of lawyers decrease in recent years rather than increase. However, looking at the complete picture presents a more enticing prospect for lawyers despite the negative employment trend.

Connecticut has one of the nation’s highest average salaries for lawyers at about $150,000, putting it among the country’s top ten highest-paying states for legal practitioners. Bridgeport, CT, is even ranked as one of the country’s best cities for lawyers. On top of that, the state also enjoys a high density of law offices as a portion of the total number of businesses, meaning that there is a robust scene for incoming lawyers to discover.

4. Georgia

The Peach State has been one of the legal industry’s most sensational success stories in recent years. Once a relatively unimpressive area in terms of its number of lawyers or salary, the state’s legal market has experienced explosive growth in the past decade. In 2018, the state’s lawyer population had increased by more than 21%, and that number has only continued to grow.

Georgia’s exponential growth makes it one of the best states to practice law. Demand is skyrocketing, and salaries are staying steady at around $130,000, depending on the legal specialty.

3. New York 

As the home of some of the world’s most powerful global law firms, perhaps it’s no surprise that New York remains one of the very best places on the planet for attorneys to set up shop. Lawyers enjoy one of the highest national salary averages in the Empire State at about $170,000 per year. However, the generally high cost of living makes this number seem a bit smaller in context. 

Although this state has fierce competition with a dense concentration of lawyers among its workforce, it also has intense demand for new legal practitioners. There are ample opportunities for career growth for those who can break through the noise and step up to meet the demand.

2. California

California is unrivaled when it comes to viable cities for lawyers to practice law. While many other states have one or two legal hotspots, California has at least four major hubs: Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. With such a dense collection of legal attractions, this West Coast state has an unquenching appetite for new lawyers and demonstrates substantial growth of more than 15% in the past five years.

Of course, high demand means that there is also plenty of competition for lawyers in California, leading local firms to offer the country’s second-highest average salary at about $170,000 each year. Unfortunately, the state also has one of the country’s highest average costs of living, such that those alluring wages lose a bit of their luster. But with increased rates of growth for most legal professionals to quickly advance to increasingly senior positions, there can be plenty of rewards in store for those who can persist in the area.

1. Illinois

Illinois may be an unexpected state to make the top of this list. However, take a look at the data, and you’ll find that it has a little bit of everything needed to make it the very best state to practice law. First and foremost, legal practitioners in the state earn one of the country’s most respectable salaries at about $150,000 per year – and that money can go a long way, as Illinois is a far more affordable state than every other top state for lawyers. 

Even if you choose to settle in Chicago, the site of most law firms in the state, you’ll find that home prices and living costs are lower than in many other big cities. Illinoisan lawyers have experienced some of the country’s fastest growth in salaries as well as job openings, as the local market has grown by more than 20% in the past five years. With plenty of law firms throughout the state, no matter where you settle, you’ll be in store for robust career growth in this great state.

Takeaway

Enjoying the benefits of being a lawyer dependent on many factors, including location. When you’re wondering where to settle down, consider these five best states to practice law.

© Copyright 2021 PracticePantherNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 211
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