Lawyer Pay

Why New York Isn't No. 1: Associates in Dallas Get the Most Bang for Their Buck


Median starting pay of $160,000 for first-year associates in large New York law firms may sound impressive, but new lawyers in more than 40 other cities get more bang for their buck.

The National Association for Law Placement developed a “buying power index” to reach that conclusion, according to a press release and the National Law Journal (reg. req.). The index is based on median salaries for 2010 law grads in private practice in cities across the country and the cost of living in those areas.

The top five cities where associates have the most buying power are:

1) Dallas, with a median salary of $150,000, where associates would need to earn just $67,870 to have the same buying power of New York associates earning $160,000.

2) Houston, with a median salary of $135,000, where associates would need to earn just $68,100 to have the same buying power as New York associates.

3) Atlanta, with a median salary of $135,000, where associates would need to earn just $70,610 to have the same buying power as New York associates.

4) Chicago, with a median salary of $145,000, where associates would need to earn just $86,360 to have the same buying power as New York associates.

5) Boston, with a median salary of $160,000, where associates would need to earn just $97,890 to have the same buying power as New York associates.

Last on the 70-city list are Charleston, S.C., and Albany, N.Y., where the median salary is $50,000. Associates there would have to earn $72,610 and $79,850 respectively to have as much buying power as New York associates.

Cities were included on the list if cost-of-living information was available and NALP had information on at least 15 starting salaries at law firms there. NALP posted the information on its website for the first time this year, the NLJ says. Previously the index was part of an annual salary publication sold by NALP.

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