The NCAA March Madness Tournament kicked off officially today. (Since it took Elie a good two hours to write his half of this post, Kash assumes he’s streaming the tournament on his computer.)
Meanwhile, we kicked off round one in our ATL “Best City To Practice Law” tournament on Tuesday, pitting cities in the East and South against one another. Heading into the weekend, D.C., NYC, Dallas, and Atlanta are looking good in their regions.
If you’ve forgotten the match-ups, check out the bracket, also available after the jump.
Today, cities in the PST and flyover country go head to head. The voting and some commentary from your editors, after the jump.
Elie is in charge of the Western region:
LOS ANGELES v. VANCOUVER
Do lawyers in L.A. have to get plastic surgery to be admitted to the bar? Everybody else in that town has some kind of work done, I’m just wondering if lawyers are exempt.
Los Angeles, hands down, boasts the most exciting variety of legal jobs. Sure you can be a Biglaw lawyer if you want. But if you are willing to accept a little bit of risk, you can use your legal training to become an entertainment lawyer or a criminal defense attorney to the stars; even the totally over-matched prosecutors can end up famous. All it takes is a J.D. and a dream.
Sure, there are downsides. Traffic, smog, gang violence, earthquakes, Austrians — there’s an extensive list of things that are wrong with L.A. Attorneys in L.A. make a lot of money — $149,060 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All the money in the world won’t necessarily help you. Not when you get car jacked on the freeway as the ground beneath you rips apart but you can’t run ’cause you’re chocking to death from the air toxins and the Governor sends you a text saying: “Hasta la vista, baby.”
But that doesn’t happen very often. In between apocalyptic scenarios, the good life in L.A. is arguably better than any other place in the world. L.A.’s got the power and prestige that young lawyers crave, without the snow and ice that turns New Yorkers into prickly troglodytes for half the year. Do you know what it’s like to go for weeks on end without seeing exposed flesh because it’ll freeze on contact with the air? L.A. lawyers don’t.
Vancouver is on this list because it is consistently ranked as one of the best cities to live in the entire world. We wanted to know if American lawyers were so desperate for quality of life that they’d be interested in migrating north of the border to find it.
When people describe Vancouver, they often say that it is beautiful, safe, clean… zzzz… Oh sorry, I must have zoned out there for a second as I was bored to death writing about a city that probably spikes the water supply with Prozac to keep an even keel.
Honestly, if you want safety and serenity, please move to a suburb. Don’t forget to hand in your genitals and sense of adventure to the ferryman. The point of living in a “city” is that things are exciting, things are in turmoil. There’s an inherent danger to city life; if you don’t get off on that at some level, then what the hell are you doing in an urban environment in the first place?
Yes, Vancouver is pretty. Yes, you can ski in the winter and swim in the summer. Yes, I’ve heard that they’ve got some kind of health care system up there that works. Yes, Canadians are both nice and funny. But … umm … you know … it’s freaking Vancouver. YAWN. (Can anybody hook me up with a nice apartment up there?)
SAN FRANCISCO v. SEATTLE
Here we have two west coast cities with surprisingly crappy climates. San Francisco gets cold. Not as cold as the Northeast, but way too cold for anyone having to pay California taxes. Meanwhile, Seattle’s inability to generate even a modicum of dryness is legendary. At some point, babies in Seattle will be born with gills and webbed feet, and those mutants will be naturally selected for, writing the next chapter in human evolution.
In Seattle, if you don’t work for Microsoft, Nike, or Starbucks, does anybody care what you do? One of the benefits of being a Biglaw lawyer is that your work matters. At least you can tell your friends that it matters. It’s not at all clear that anybody will believe you in Seattle, unless your firm counts Microsoft, Nike, or Starbucks as one of their clients.
You can bike anywhere you want to in Seattle, which is a good thing because at a $120,580 mean salary, your car probably sucks. But on the upside Seattle is very environmentally friendly. Hikers and outdoorsmen have great options on their weekends away from the office.
And you should have many weekends away from the office. You’re in Seattle, nobody is expecting you to bill 3,000 hours. If you’re going to kill yourself, it’s going to be because of the weather, not the work.
When exactly did San Francisco become the ugly cousin to the hot Biglaw offices in Silicon Valley? I mean, I get the challenges of getting office space in a city where the rents rival Manhattan. I get that the average lawyer salary of $155,760 is quite steep, especially if you can’t charge clients East Coast prices. But I’m still surprised that San Francisco is slowly becoming a secondary legal market within the state of California.
It doesn’t have to be that way, SanFran is affluent and attractive. It’s environmentally conscious and culturally accepting. Attorneys might have to battle the high cost of living, but there’s a beautiful world waiting for them just outside their office.
If all the people from Silicon Valley support their brethren in San Francisco, this poll will be a landslide. But if San Francisco has to stand on its own, I don’t know if the city still has the juice to fend off their soggy neighbors to the north.
Kash brings you the Midwestern city match-ups:
CHICAGO v. CLEVELAND
At first glance, the outcome of this contest seems clear. Cleveland will surely be blown away by the windy city, right? Chicago is the New York City of the Midwest. If not heading to a coast after law school, Chi-Town is where most lawyers want to be.
Many a law firm is based in the Second City and Northwestern and U of Chicago are churning out some serious legal talent. A beautiful city, it inspires romance. The halls of Sidley Austin were sprinkled with love dust for the Obamas, for example.
With an average mean salary of $143K, the lawyers on Lake Michigan are raking in much more than their poor colleagues on Lake Erie. Average mean salary for Cleveland lawyers is a shabby $109K, which puts it in contention with Kansas City as the lowest paying city for lawyers in the March Madness competition.
But a low salary may not be a problem in Cleveland. Thanks to the total destruction of the Ohio economy, goods are dirt cheap there. Going to Cleveland these days is like going to Buenos Aires after the Argentinian economy collapsed. The dollar goes far. If you like living in a McMansion, and driving a gas-guzzling SUV, this is the city for you.
My own parents fled the Buckeye State for Florida when I was a wee babe, but family trips there are always fun. The weather is beautiful in the summer, and winter does not require total hibernation like in Chicago.
If Jones Day can hold its own against Kirkland and Sidley, Cleveland may just be this tournament’s sooty Cinderella.
DETROIT v. KANSAS CITY/ST. LOUIS
Detroit has character. Or characters rather. Lawyers like sext-loving Kwame Kilpatrick and school children-fighting Monica Conyers must make being an attorney in this town entertaining.
And lawyers there are in need of entertaining. Otherwise, they’re spending all their time on bankruptcy work, since the American car industry has effectively hit a brick wall. If you’re the type who likes Federico Fellini films, and the depiction of the public square after the party is over, then Detroit is a pretty fascinating place to be these days.
Despite Detroit’s sad state, it might be hard for Kansas City and St. Louis to compete against it. The 250 miles between the two may make team huddles difficult.
STL and KC are the destination for gentleman (and gentlewoman) lawyers. You’ll find a fairly vibrant legal scene with affordable real estate and a humane work schedule. We hear reports that lawyers in these cities actually get home for dinner by 6 p.m.
When it comes to moola, Detroit has a slight edge. Motown lawyers make $125K on average, while Gateway City attorneys are making $115K and KC JDs make a mean annual salary of $108K, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Who do you want to send to the Elite Eight?