March Madness, March Madness 2010, Reader Polls

ATL March Madness: Best City to Practice Law (Regional Finals). East and South.

We’re past the first round of our Best City to Practice Law, March Madness bracket. Last week saw a few upsets in terms of overall city population, but few true surprises:

This is good for ATL office pool participants Kash and Lat. They are both tied for first place having picked 7 of the 8 match-ups correctly in round one. Elie’s lagging behind, with only 6 of 8 correct — Elie has a whole new reason to hate the denizens of Houston who couldn’t even show some civic pride and vote for their stupid city. [If you want to check out how the real NCAA brackets are going, check here. Elie’s in 30th (thanks Georgetown), while Kash is 21st and has “Kansas” losing to Michigan State this round anyway.]

Today we’re tackling our regional finals in the East and South. In one corner, we have two bastions of East Coast intellectualism (and elitism). In the other corner, we’ve got a high quality of life that is occasionally interrupted by truck nutz. It should be a spirited debate, let’s get to it…

Kash brings you the eastern regional final:


D.C. barely broke a sweat in its match-up with Philly. Meanwhile, there was a closer competition in Boston v. NYC. D.C. has the advantage heading into this round.

Sure, New York has more to offer when it comes to… well, just about everything. D.C. is like basic cable, with a few good quality channels, while New York is the satellite package with 600+ options. There are infinite possibilities in Gotham, but the sheer volume of choices can be stressful. Once you do decide what to tune into, there’s often a gnawing fear that there was something else that would have been better. And unfortunately, NYC does not come with a TiVo option.

Whereas lawyers reign supreme in D.C., they are the lapdogs in the Wall Street palace of New York. But one self-proclaimed Biglaw partner commented last round to vouch for the superiority of the Big Apple, though he also recounted the pleasures of other towns in the Elite Eight:

I have served as a partner in Biglaw in LA, Dallas, and now primarily in NYC and DC. I must admit, NYC is the best (go Yankees) but I love DC as a town and Dallas is simply utterly delightful. Plus, the women in Dallas are exquisite. Had several federal cases I won in Atlanta and was not impressed, save for The Gold Club.

Below, Elie gathered actual data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the contrasting consumer price index information for his cities. NYC and D.C. do not lend themselves to this comparison because BLS uses different base years for their CPIs. But I think we all know that NYC is at a disadvantage in a cost of living contest. What New Yorkers spend on taxi rides in a month would pay the rent on a Logan Circle studio in D.C.

In New York’s favor, residents do get representation with their ridiculously-high taxation, and the population is much more attractive on average. Though that means, if you’re just “lawyer hot,” you’ll want D.C. as your catwalk.

In the last round, I called NYC the Biglaw wet dream. I stand by that. But more often than not, the star of your sexual fantasies is not the one you actually want to spend the rest of your life cuddling. D.C. is less hot, but the better pick for a long-term relationship.

Elie is in charge of the southern region:


Atlanta roundly trounced Houston in the first round, and here the city with an apparently dedicated Above the Law following comes up against the big boys in Big D.

Cost of living wise, Atlanta and Dallas are similar. Both rate at 202-and-change according to the updated Consumer Price Index. As lawyers in both cities make roughly the same amount of money, it would appear that neither city has an economic advantage in this match-up.

Until you start thinking about taxes, that is. The top state income tax rate in Georgia is 6%. In Texas, that number is a cool 0%. Lawyers in Dallas don’t get more for their money than lawyers in Atlanta, but they get to keep more of it.

In terms of livability, a few commenters pointed out that Atlanta was great to live in, but not the best place to be working in Biglaw:

Atlanta sucks for Big Law. Low pay (start at $135,000); serious compression (7th years make $195,000); high hours requirement for bonuses (2000 to 2050); small bonuses ($10,000 to $35,000); old boy network that only promotes straight white men with very few tokens; no chance for equity partnership (unless your a straight white male from an upper middle class background and you’re willing to work for 12 years for eligibility at less than stellar pay and bill a shit load of hours). It’s bad. Very bad. Don’t start your career in Atlanta. Don’t move to Atlanta to practice Biglaw. However, the city is great. The people are great (in the perimeter). So if you get an in-house job here, definitely come.

Dallas generated fewer responses last round than Atlanta. But the city still handed Charlotte an easy defeat. Is it possible that lawyers in Dallas are just more secure in themselves and their city than others? Is it possible that Above the Law readers are simply afraid of messing with Dallas? I can’t be sure, but it’s hard to argue with all that Dallas has to offer.

Unless you just hate Texas on general principle. I mean, come on, Texas is like the New York of the South. Loud, self-important, parochial people who think they’re the best and would happily secede from the rest of America if the rest of the country tries to impose their standards of morality and freedom. Really, New Yorkers and Texans are brothers from different mothers.

Aww… come over here, Dallas, and give me a big hug.

Earlier: Prior “ATL March Madness: Best City for Lawyers” coverage

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