Without fail, in surveys across basically every demographic, the number one most important aspect of a job for most people is the salary — how much do attorneys get paid where I live?
And while there are many things to go into how much you can expect to make, there’s really good data for average salaries for attorneys by city across America broken down by seniority level. These averages give you a very good sense of what to expect for your salary.
So to better understand how attorney salaries change across American cities, we decided to take a look the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on average pay for attorneys in the biggest cities across America.
Additionally, we wanted to adjust the salary based on the cost of living — because your salary goes further in Cleveland than it does in San Francisco.
So what’s the city with the best salary for attorneys after this adjustment? That would be San Jose. Here’s a quick snapshot of the top ten cities for attorney salaries:
Let’s take a look at how we got here and a full ranking of the top 100 cities.
As we mentioned earlier, we took the average annual salary data for attorneys from the 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics — specifically their “Occupational Employment Statistics”.
To make all the salary numbers more apples to apples across cities, we compared the salary data relative to the state’s cost of living from MIT’s living wage index.
This left us with enough data for 373 metro areas across the country. We then took the primary area of the metro and labeled that the ‘city’ for this analysis. So, for example, “Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division” became simply Boston.
We then created an index by dividing the average wage for a city by the living wage in that state. As an example, the living wage in California is $57,315 and the average attorney pay in San Francisco is $178,110, so our index value would be:
$178,110 / $57,315 = 3.11
We then ranked every city on this criteria with the city with the highest salary index ranking as highest average salary for attorneys.
Here’s a look at the full ranking for the top 100 cities.
If you’re interested, the worst cities for attorney pay are:
|1||San Jose, CA||$204,010|
|5||New Bern, NC||$162,980|
|10||San Francisco, CA||$178,110|
|12||Great Falls, MT||$145,400|
|14||Los Angeles, CA||$173,100|
|15||Lake County, IL||$157,390|
|21||Ann Arbor, MI||$142,990|
|25||El Paso, TX||$138,560|
|28||Fort Collins, CO||$153,660|
|29||New York, NY||$167,990|
|30||Hot Springs, AR||$126,140|
|32||College Station, TX||$135,860|
|45||Rocky Mount, NC||$134,450|
|47||New Orleans, LA||$129,630|
|59||Montgomery County, PA||$130,060|
|60||South Bend, IN||$122,010|
|61||Kansas City, MO||$119,280|
|63||North Port, FL||$134,420|
|64||Silver Spring, MD||$149,580|
|66||Myrtle Beach, SC||$119,530|
|68||Santa Rosa, CA||$146,300|
|72||Salt Lake City, UT||$121,360|
|74||San Antonio, TX||$121,460|
|82||St. Louis, MO||$115,210|
|83||Des Moines, IA||$121,970|
|95||Eau Claire, WI||$124,930|
|98||Fort Wayne, IN||$114,320|