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The Top 10 Cities for Lawyers in 2019

— September 4, 2019

Whether you’re just starting your career or thinking of a mid-career change of scenery, knowing the top 10 cities for lawyers may help you make your choice.

The Internet is full of lists and if you search, you’ll find many “Top 10 Cities for Lawyers” lists. Some concentrate on large cities while others include smaller cities. Many of these lists try to include a cost of living or quality of life section that can change how you would view a compilation that only concerned itself with salaries. 

What we will do in this article is pick the top ten cities for lawyers in 2019 while trying to incorporate as many factors as we can to give you the complete picture. 

So, here we go.

  1. Washington D.C. The nation’s capital is where it’s happening, and the average lawyer salary is getting close to $200,000. If there is government, there are lawyers and that’s simply why Washington is number one. Add world entities like the IMF and the World Bank, and you can understand why aspiring attorneys flock to D.C. And of course, don’t forget that the Supreme Court is located there.
  2. Houston, TX. Bet you didn’t realize that Houston is the fifth biggest metro area in the country. Its economy is driven by oil, and there’s lots of that in Texas. Houston lawyers make almost as much as D.C. attorneys do, but the cost of living in Houston is significantly less than that of Washington. And don’t forget the huge medical presence in Houston along with the Johnson Space Center.
  3. New York, New York. New York boasts over 55,000 attorney jobs. The global significance of the city, its diverse population, and its reputation for being open 24/7 adds an “electric feeling” vibe to city life. On the downside, the cost of living is high, and it can be a challenge to navigate, but New Yorkers love their city and obviously, a lot of business happens there.
  4. Chicago, IL. Muddy Waters brought the blues there in the 1950s, and the Chicago area population of over 10,000,000 people makes it a financial and tech center. While Chicago lawyers don’t make as much as Washington or New York barristers, the city is home to a slew of significant law firms. And on top of that, rent prices in Chicago are pretty affordable when compared to the aforementioned DC and New York City. Add a couple of MLB teams and of course the Chicago Bears and you can probably make it through the winter!
  5. Miami, FL. Miami has a unique tropical and international flavor. While
    Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, at sunset; image by Muzammil Soorma, via
    Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, at sunset; image by Muzammil Soorma, via

    the average attorney salary is around $150,000, the cost of living can be dealt with, especially if you don’t insist on living close to South Beach. There is a load of international business that happens in Miami, and the pleasant fall and winter weather can make it a hard place to turn down.

  6. Tallahassee, FL. The home of Florida State University, Tallahassee pays its attorneys an average of close to $120,000 per year. Since the city is the state capital, there is naturally a lot of legislative business and plenty of opportunities for attorneys. FYI, the Florida bar exam is notoriously tough because it’s common knowledge that Florida does not want to be known as the place attorneys go to retire, so if you want to get licensed there, prepare for some serious studying no matter where you are on your career path.
  7. Carson City, NV. For our seventh pick, we are choosing Carson, City, NV. The city is small – 55,000 residents—but lawyers can make up to $120,000 per year there. It is also the capital of Nevada, and as we have seen, government agencies need lawyers. With the huge requirements of gambling regulations, attorneys should have no problem finding work here. Of course, the pace will be different than Miami or New York, but many welcome that change.
  8. Philadelphia, PA. Lawyers can make over $150,000 here, and according to, “Partners with a book of business are always in demand. But lately, law firms in the Philadelphia area have been focused on finding young lawyers with a few years of experience to handle all the work the firms already have on their plates.” Therefore, the home of Philly Cheesesteaks can be a great place of opportunity for mid-career attorneys.
  9. Austin, TX. Quality and vibrancy of life in Austin are huge. Add the University of Texas at Austin and the state capital, and many aspiring attorneys are choosing Austin. Congress Avenue is loaded with big-name firms, and while housing and rent prices are marching steadily upward, the city is still a bargain compared to its northern and eastern neighbors.
  10. 10.Milwaukee, WI. Our sleeper of the year is Milwaukee. With famous firms like Foley and Lardner calling Milwaukee home, there is a rich legal heritage there. Also, Wisconsin is one of the few states that allows graduates of its law schools to be licensed immediately without passing the bar exam if they stay in Wisconsin. Now that’s a serious advantage!

Where and why you practice law won’t be determined by our list, but we know we have given you something to think about as you contemplate the ten best places for lawyers in the U.S. 

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