Cost of Living

Back in 2011, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) produced an extremely useful chart for people trying to figure out where to start their Biglaw careers. The chart, which tracks buying power based on starting salaries for associates, is a great way to find out where you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you land a lucrative Biglaw gig.

NALP’s Buying Power Index continues to use New York City ($160,000) as the baseline. It takes the median starting salary for the class of 2011 and the cost of living index for NYC and sets that figure at 1.00. Cities with a better purchasing power than NYC have a value greater than 1.00. In all, 76 cities have been ranked.

When we first wrote about this, associates in New York City were crestfallen when they found out that their city was number 42 on the list — they realized they were essentially throwing their money down the drain. This year, NYC has tumbled even further down the list.

How badly are they getting screwed, and where can you go if you want greater purchasing power?

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Earlier this week, we brought you news about the 10 worst cities for young attorneys ranked by standard of living, size of the legal community, and an active social scene for young people. Many of those cities were located in the South or in the Midwest, where law school administrators have insisted there are good jobs waiting. While some complained that the rankings were suspect for one reason or another, others — perhaps they were bitter? — went so far as to suggest they didn’t “want people that ‘rank’ the ‘worst cities’ coming to these great places anyway.” Sheesh.

Well, those worst-city defenders may be in luck, because today we’ve got the rankings for the 20 Best Cities for Young Attorneys, and this time, average billable hours per city are included. Once again, NALP’s Buying Power Index for the Class of 2010 was used to establish each city’s standard of living, and the resultant best cities were not only big, but they were also extremely Biglaw-centric, with reported median salaries to match.

So where are the best cities for young attorneys?

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Given the glut of attorneys being pumped out into the market on a yearly basis, recent graduates are being told to consider applying for employment in places that they normally wouldn’t — rural places like the cities in the Midwest or the Deep South. And for some, it’s been working out, but for others, the experience has been less than enjoyable.

Enter the latest set of rankings. Last year at about this time, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) released its Buying Power Index for the Class of 2010. This year, National Jurist has presented a list of the Worst Cities for Young Attorneys, based, in part, on NALP’s figures. Unsurprisingly, many of those cities fall near the bottom of NALP’s buying power list, and one was even in second-to-last place. If you have other options, you may want to seriously consider them.

So where are the worst cities for young attorneys?

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The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has produced an extremely useful chart for people trying to figure out where to start their Biglaw careers. They’ve listed the cities that give you the most bang for your buck if you land a high paying Biglaw job.

And boy, are New York City associates going to feel stupid.

The NALP “buying power index” sets New York as the baseline. It takes the median starting salary for the class of 2010 and the NYC cost of living index and sets that figure at 1.00. Cities with a better purchasing power than NYC have a value greater than 1.00.

New York ranks #42.

Most of the high-ranking cities also have the benefit of warmth….

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