The Best Large Metro Areas for Law School Graduates

Update: We recently released our updated 2016 list of Best Places for Law School Graduates.

A few weeks ago, we ranked the best small cities for recent law school graduates, ranking metro- and micropolitan areas with populations under 100,000 based on average lawyer salaries, cost of living, employment and more. At the top of the list? Washington, NC – followed by Carlsbad-Artesia, NM, Thomaston, GA and Roswell, NM.

But with the law job market finally rebounding, recent law school grads have more choice when it comes to finding a place to live after graduation – and that includes major cities around the country.

Everyone knows big cities are the place to go for big salaries. However, the local job market and cost of living can make or break your dream job. That’s why, for this list, we looked at metropolitan areas with populations above 100,000, evaluating them on:

  • Average lawyer salaries
  • Housing affordability index (percent of income spent on rent)
  • Amenities per 1,000 housing units
  • Employment attractiveness (law job density and available jobs)

Read on to check out our top 10 metropolitan areas, click through interactive graphs, see our data and read expert advice from law school professors and administrators! And, if you’re in the middle of (or embarking on) the job search, remember this piece of advice from Dana Morris, Assistant Dean of Career Development at the University of Maryland Francis Carey School of Law:

Embrace the job search for what it will be: unpredictable, sometimes maddening, but absolutely necessary and absolutely do-able.

I. The Top 10 Places for Law School Graduates

10. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

GoodCall score: 255.90
Average lawyer salary: $150,290
Housing affordability index: 11.04%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 2.16
Employment attractiveness rank: 4.00

9. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

GoodCall score: 256.40
Average lawyer salary: $150,720
Housing affordability index: 7.78%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 1.52
Employment attractiveness rank: 13.00

8. St. Cloud, MN

GoodCall score: 258.35
Average lawyer salary: $107,070
Housing affordability index: 8.56%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 5.36
Employment attractiveness rank: 19.00

7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

GoodCall score: 259.25
Average lawyer salary: $126,100
Housing affordability index: 10.00%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 2.65
Employment attractiveness rank: 62.00

6. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

GoodCall score: 260.15
Average lawyer salary: $109,650
Housing affordability index: 9.09%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 3.12
Employment attractiveness rank: 46.00

5. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

GoodCall score: 264.95
Average lawyer salary: $107,440
Housing affordability index: 9.85%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 4.44
Employment attractiveness rank: 1.00

4. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

GoodCall score: 271.65
Average lawyer salary: $120,900
Housing affordability index: 10.00%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 3.01
Employment attractiveness rank: 14.00

3. Pittsburgh, PA

GoodCall score: 277.45
Average lawyer salary: $122,220
Housing affordability index: 7.48%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 3.08
Employment attractiveness rank: 29.00

2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

GoodCall score: 278.30
Average lawyer salary: $141,010
Housing affordability index: 10.97%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 5.21
Employment attractiveness rank: 22.00

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

GoodCall score: 279.10
Average lawyer salary: $148,140
Housing affordability index: 10.04%
Amenities per 1,000 housing units: 2.74
Employment attractiveness rank: 5.00

salary

Best Salary

1. Valdosta, GA
2. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
3. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
5. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

housing

Most Affordable Housing

1. Valdosta, GA
2. Wheeling, WV-OH
3. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA
4. Dothan, AL
5. Dayton, OH

jobs

Best Jobs

1. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
2. Raleigh, NC
3. Corpus Christi, TX
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
5. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
amenities

Best Amenities

1. Barnstable Town, MA
2. Glens Falls, NY
3. Santa Fe, NM
4. Billings, MT
5. Rapid City, SD

 

II. The Data

Rank Metro Area GoodCall Score Population Average Lawyer Salary Housing Affordability Index Amenities per 1,000 Housing Units Employment Attractiveness Rank
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 279.10 20,092,883 $148,140 10.04% 2.74 5.00
2 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 278.30 945,438 $141,010 10.97% 5.21 22.00
3 Pittsburgh, PA 277.45 2,355,968 $122,220 7.48% 3.08 29.00
4 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 271.65 1,214,295 $120,900 10.00% 3.01 14.00
5 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 264.95 1,792,649 $107,440 9.85% 4.44 1.00
6 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 260.15 611,549 $109,650 9.09% 3.12 46.00
7 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 259.25 6,051,170 $126,100 10.00% 2.65 62.00
8 St. Cloud, MN 258.35 192,418 $107,070 8.56% 5.36 19.00
9 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 256.40 6,490,180 $150,720 7.78% 1.52 13.00
10 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 255.90 4,594,060 $150,290 11.04% 2.16 4.00
11 Richmond, VA 255.65 1,260,029 $114,080 10.53% 2.62 7.00
12 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 254.55 560,849 $106,750 9.86% 2.67 8.00
13 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 254.25 3,495,176 $116,350 9.97% 3.69 113.00
14 Portland-South Portland, ME 254.10 523,552 $110,400 10.33% 5.12 96.00
15 Dayton, OH 253.80 800,836 $133,470 7.02% 2.20 32.00
16 Kansas City, MO-KS 252.40 2,071,133 $115,350 9.19% 2.37 36.00
17 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 249.80 6,033,737 $154,150 11.03% 2.27 61.00
18 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 247.50 4,732,161 $130,150 11.03% 2.88 92.00
19 New Orleans-Metairie, LA 246.75 1,251,849 $110,660 10.51% 2.67 47.00
20 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 244.65 846,178 $141,800 12.06% 3.34 75.00
21 Salt Lake City, UT 242.75 1,153,340 $107,430 10.86% 2.65 15.00
22 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 242.10 2,328,652 $119,120 9.07% 1.64 9.00
23 Raleigh, NC 237.80 1,242,974 $106,830 10.66% 2.31 2.00
24 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 235.45 2,321,418 $121,400 10.66% 2.61 112.00
25 Tulsa, OK 235.00 969,224 $109,590 8.60% 2.27 95.00
26 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 234.20 5,614,323 $122,570 9.91% 2.06 115.00
27 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 232.70 3,671,478 $116,140 12.00% 2.37 23.00
28 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 230.25 5,929,819 $106,170 13.25% 2.85 11.00
29 Manchester-Nashua, NH 229.65 405,184 $110,600 11.61% 2.86 87.00
30 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 229.20 829,835 $108,600 10.51% 2.91 60.00
31 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 229.05 2,149,449 $100,740 9.61% 2.53 34.00
32 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 228.40 2,754,258 $116,240 10.74% 2.30 114.00
33 Pittsfield, MA 228.10 128,715 $130,190 7.23% 5.72 121.00
34 St. Louis, MO-IL 227.25 2,806,207 $102,710 9.91% 2.97 118.00
35 Columbus, OH 226.75 1,994,536 $135,270 7.57% 1.94 116.00
36 Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 226.05 1,609,367 $104,300 10.44% 2.97 86.00
37 Ann Arbor, MI 225.80 356,874 $111,210 10.81% 2.54 83.00
38 New Haven-Milford, CT 224.90 861,277 $109,500 11.81% 2.23 17.00
39 El Paso, TX 224.75 836,698 $117,180 7.83% 1.28 63.00
40 Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA 224.65 308,079 $115,930 6.57% 1.70 79.00
41 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 222.80 9,554,598 $103,810 12.04% 2.41 10.00
42 Greensboro-High Point, NC 222.30 746,593 $106,930 8.54% 2.55 84.00
43 Birmingham-Hoover, AL 219.25 1,143,772 $105,690 9.56% 1.97 76.00
44 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 217.45 2,348,247 $110,400 11.15% 2.17 100.00
45 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 217.45 6,954,330 $118,640 9.94% 1.56 109.00
46 Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 217.15 334,017 $96,260 9.39% 3.18 81.00
47 Lancaster, PA 216.90 533,320 $112,820 9.92% 2.60 97.00
48 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 216.50 4,296,611 $101,360 10.57% 2.59 94.00
49 Duluth, MN-WI 214.25 280,218 $91,180 9.50% 4.73 74.00
50 San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA 213.55 279,083 $123,180 12.30% 2.42 73.00
51 Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA 212.40 2,244,397 $119,470 11.35% 1.75 111.00
52 Bakersfield, CA 212.15 874,589 $129,250 8.90% 1.12 89.00
53 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 211.35 2,069,681 $106,160 12.37% 2.18 28.00
54 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 210.05 1,971,274 $96,470 10.44% 2.29 33.00
55 Knoxville, TN 206.60 857,585 $100,280 9.16% 1.97 88.00
56 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 206.55 3,263,431 $132,060 12.17% 1.79 120.00
57 Stockton-Lodi, CA 206.30 715,597 $131,680 10.08% 1.45 105.00
58 Wheeling, WV-OH 206.05 145,205 $104,440 6.38% 3.06 121.00
59 Madison, WI 205.40 633,787 $94,040 12.02% 2.98 37.00
60 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 202.40 4,489,109 $107,850 11.35% 1.64 82.00
61 Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ 201.40 275,209 $95,790 13.14% 4.54 71.00
62 Corpus Christi, TX 201.35 448,108 $97,600 10.84% 2.04 3.00
63 Dover, DE 199.70 171,987 $113,780 10.24% 3.40 121.00
64 Syracuse, NY 197.00 661,478 $85,440 11.08% 3.24 20.00
65 Bremerton-Silverdale, WA 195.65 254,183 $104,140 12.38% 2.61 67.00
66 Spartanburg, SC 194.65 321,418 $97,310 8.76% 2.07 80.00
67 Tyler, TX 194.20 218,842 $117,960 9.13% 2.28 121.00
68 Fresno, CA 193.85 965,974 $102,110 11.12% 1.05 40.00
69 Mansfield, OH 191.60 121,942 $102,750 7.59% 3.48 121.00
70 Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY 190.80 1,136,360 $85,220 10.57% 2.55 25.00
71 Wenatchee, WA 190.25 114,392 $88,100 11.38% 4.58 42.00
72 Peoria, IL 189.55 380,040 $102,190 8.64% 3.38 121.00
73 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 189.35 2,785,874 $98,900 13.99% 2.69 104.00
74 Austin-Round Rock, TX 188.05 1,943,299 $96,760 13.23% 1.72 6.00
75 Fort Wayne, IN 186.75 427,183 $109,870 7.62% 2.50 121.00
76 Santa Rosa, CA 186.70 500,292 $138,510 11.27% 2.72 121.00
77 Napa, CA 186.60 141,667 $107,270 15.19% 2.83 51.00
78 Valdosta, GA 186.30 143,317 $171,150 5.54% 1.11 121.00
79 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 184.45 729,135 $88,720 10.83% 2.00 52.00
80 Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 184.10 168,806 $83,750 9.75% 4.14 56.00
81 Huntsville, AL 183.95 441,086 $121,220 7.79% 2.09 121.00
82 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 183.80 271,804 $142,110 11.41% 2.83 121.00
83 Columbus, GA-AL 180.95 314,005 $135,270 7.41% 1.48 121.00
84 Salinas, CA 179.60 431,344 $103,440 14.78% 2.30 64.00
85 Worcester, MA-CT 179.15 930,473 $99,170 11.22% 2.22 108.00
86 Baton Rouge, LA 179.05 825,478 $92,480 11.24% 1.83 59.00
87 Rapid City, SD 178.70 143,638 $93,800 9.99% 5.95 121.00
88 Greeley, CO 177.90 277,670 $98,980 11.07% 1.96 72.00
89 Reading, PA 176.50 413,691 $98,950 10.45% 3.76 121.00
90 Anchorage, AK 176.30 398,892 $107,730 13.40% 3.74 121.00
91 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 175.65 4,441,890 $112,240 12.71% 1.49 101.00
92 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 175.50 1,716,624 $98,880 13.53% 2.17 77.00
93 Springfield, MA 175.30 629,100 $82,490 12.28% 3.28 54.00
94 Salem, OR 175.25 404,026 $104,410 9.98% 2.06 121.00
95 Norwich-New London, CT 174.05 273,676 $107,840 11.63% 4.37 121.00
96 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 173.95 904,421 $85,660 11.78% 2.98 78.00
97 Cleveland-Elyria, OH 173.15 2,063,598 $82,550 11.50% 2.53 21.00
98 Dothan, AL 172.35 148,095 $120,490 6.72% 1.78 121.00
99 Utica-Rome, NY 171.60 296,615 $94,650 9.00% 3.20 121.00
100 Reno, NV 171.55 443,990 $106,250 11.23% 2.68 121.00

 

III. Advice from the Experts

While the job climate is starting to improve for recent law grads, it’s still a major challenge to find a job after law school. We set out to find out the best advice for law grads from top law schools around the country. The most common piece of advice? Network. But there’s a lot more to it as well. Click on an expert to see their answer to the following question:

In this tough job climate for law graduates, what is your best piece of advice for recent grads looking to jump start their career?

 

 

Vincent Versaglia (1)
Derek Van Volkenburgh (1)
Rebecca Brown (1)
Add subtitle text (7)
Vickie Brown (2)
Michael J. Ende, Esq.
Heather Hayes
LuEllen Conti (1)
Julie Remer, Esq.
Melissa M. Berry, Esq.
dana morris

IV. Methodology

GoodCall analyzed 310 metropolitan areas nationwide and came up with an overall ranking based on average lawyer salary, housing affordability, amenities, and employment attractiveness.

  • The average lawyer salary was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics tool and represents the annual mean wage for lawyers (Occupation Code 23-1011) in 2013. This represents 40% of our overall score.
  • The employment attractiveness rank is based on a combination of law job density (law jobs per 1,000 jobs), which was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and available law jobs and available law jobs per 1,000 jobs, which were taken from Indeed.com. This metric, which shows how attractive an area is for job seekers, represents 35% of our overall score.
  • The housing affordability index was taken from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder. This is the average percentage of income spent on housing, and represents 15% of our overall score.
  • The amenities represents number of amenities per 1,000 housing units, and was calculated using data from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder. This is the number of amenities per 1,000 households. It includes arts, entertainment and recreation, and represents 10% of our overall score.

We would also like to thank our contributing experts, including:
Vincent Versaglia, University of Notre Dame Law School
Derek Van Volkenburg, University of Maine Law School
Rebecca Brown, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Wendy Perdue, University of Richmond School of Law
LuEllen Conti, Howard University School of Law
Julie Remer, Esq., University of San Diego School of Law
Melissa M. Berry, Esq., Chapman University Fowler School of Law
Dana Morris, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Paul Southerland

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Paul is a High Point University graduate with a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Strategic Communication. GoodCall's resident numbers guy, Paul is a digital marketing expert who has been working in data analysis for more than 3 years. Paul contributes to GoodCall News with original data and reports.

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Comments(5)

  1. Naoma Phelp says

    Great article.

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