With the number of law school graduates on the rise, aspiring attorneys are curious to find out the best state to begin their legal career.
Practicing lawyers need to consider a number of factors before relocating, including the existing job market, cost of living, and average annual salary for their area of law.
Long-term career prospects is also an important factor to take into account.
To determine the best states for aspiring attorneys, WEBRIS, a legal marketing agency, examined a number of criteria.
In addition to the ones mentioned above, the study included total bankruptcy filings, medical malpractice, and divorce statistics.
WEBRIS ranked the variables for each state with a score of 1 being best and 50 being worst.
The scores were then totaled to find the best states for attorneys to live and work.
Every lawyer will need to consider their own circumstances, but our rankings provide a statistical basis for lawyers to find the best states for attorneys to live and work.
The best place for new lawyers to start their career? Ohio.
With a variety of job opportunities for legal professionals, Ohio ranked 10th in the nation for attorney-related jobs, having almost 18,000 job openings in 2022.
Ohio also ranks 18th for lawyers specializing in family law, with almost 10% of marriages in the state of Ohio ending in divorce, compared to the national average of 9.2%.
The state had over 18,000 bankruptcy filings in 2022, offering a large job opportunity to lawyers specializing in that area as well.
Along with abundant opportunity, Ohio performed well in cost-of-living rankings.
It placed 18th in total costs for lawyers, and 26th in yearly salary, with an average total of $91,076.
The combination of those rankings and others made Ohio the surprising winner of our rankings.
New Jersey ranks 2nd due largely to a strong showing in a handful of categories, led by a 3rd place ranking in yearly salary with an average income of $102K a year.
The state also provides ample opportunity for a number of areas of legal practice; a 5th-place ranking for real estate law, and a 4th-place ranking for medical malpractice, with 746 malpractice filings in 2022 alone.
And despite 40,000 lawyers who already call the state home, 2022 saw over 23,000 legal job listings; plenty of opportunities for up-and-coming lawyers
Missouri takes third place on the back of a strong showing in the job opportunities category, with almost 13,000 listings in 2022.
With only 24,000 lawyers in the state, there are far more opportunities than the current supply can fill. And the state ranks well in affordability, coming in 8th place on that metric.
Missouri had over 38,000 crimes reported and over 8,000 bankruptcy filings, ranking 10th and 14th in those categories and providing work in both criminal and bankruptcy law.
The combination of good opportunities and favorable cost-of-living moved Missouri into the top three in our rankings.
Taking 4th place is Georgia. Ranking 9th in job opportunities, Georgia had over 20,000 job openings for lawyers in 2022.
The state is a strong contender for lawyers just starting out, or more experienced legal professionals seeking to relocate. The state ranked 9th for total cost for lawyers.
Georgia offers a large opportunity to lawyers specializing in bankruptcy, with almost 24,000 bankruptcy filings recorded in 2022.
The state scored average for attorneys practicing criminal law and medical malpractice, with a score of 24 in each.
Georgia boasts over 33,000 lawyers in the state, proving that it is a strong state for those in the legal community.
Holding the center position in our top-ten, Michigan scores 12th for the number of legal jobs available, with over 16,000 jobs for lawyers in 2022.
Despite a lower average yearly salary of $82,000, the state scored 19th for average cost for lawyers.
Ranking 21st in medical malpractice by population and divorce statistics, Michigan recorded almost 500 medical malpractice filings and an above-average divorce percentage of 9.5% in 2022.
However, its specialty is in bankruptcy law and personal injury, with a score of 9 and 7 in those categories.
Oklahoma came in 6th position overall, but ranked first in total costs for lawyers, thanks to a lower-than-average law school tuition and average tax burdens.
Low costs, comparatively little competition, and plenty of job opportunities in criminal and divorce law make Oklahoma a surprising contender on our list.
The state ranks 18th for the number of lawyers in the state, with almost 14,000 practicing lawyers residing in Oklahoma. Over 23,000 crimes were reported in 2022, and a divorce percentage of 10.5%.
In 7th place is Kansas. The cost of living factor is favorable for lawyers, taking 11th place, while the state ranks 41st in yearly salaries, averaging $83,000 per year.
The result is a state that is surprisingly affordable for new lawyers. Kansas offers plenty of legal specialties, ranking 2nd in medical malpractice filings by population.
The state also ranks 10th in real estate law, due to home values increasing and their short time on the market, and 10th in personal injury law.
Pennsylvania holds the 7th spot in the rankings. There were over 24,000 legal job openings in 2022, prime opportunities for lawyers just starting out.
While Pennsylvania carries higher costs, coming in with a total score of 37, the average yearly salary is correspondingly higher, just over $98,000.
Pennsylvania boasts a population of almost 50,000 lawyers. The state ranks 6th for medical malpractice lawsuits by population, with over 950 medical malpractice filings.
On the real estate side, Pennsylvania features a high percentage of homes sold over listing price and a steadily increasing home value, both appealing factors for real estate lawyers.
Unsurprisingly, New York ranks first in a number of categories, including the number of lawyers in the state – over 185,000 – and the all-important average yearly salary – over $117k.
Roughly 86,000 job listings in 2022 places New York second in that category.
As far as areas of legal focus go, the state ranks 18th and 19th for real estate and personal injury, respectively.
New York still ranks in the top ten states for new lawyers, but is pulled down the list by high cost-of-living factors; New York came in last in the rankings for affordability.
Indiana, in 10th place overall, scores well in a number of categories and could be an appealing choice for lawyers just starting out.
Averaging $98,000 a year and ranking 9th in average yearly salary, Indiana is a positive state for lawyers.
There are comparatively few lawyers in the state – Indiana ranked 43rd in that category – but the state ranks well in job opportunities with over 8,000 listings in 2022.
Indiana sits 6th in the nation for bankruptcy cases; over 13k bankruptcy filings were recorded in 2022. The state also ranks 14th in divorce law, with almost 10% of marriages in Indiana ending in divorce.
Cesar Cobo, COO and partner at WEBRIS said the following regarding the study:
This study provides comprehensive information beneficial to lawyers at all stages of their career, from the attorney fresh out of law school to the senior partner.
It goes beyond salaries and job prospects delving into detailed insights for lawyers specializing in particular practice areas and poinpointing the states that present the most favorable opportunities for career and personal growth.
Relocating for work as an attorney is a significant undertaking, and carefully considering these factors can provide assurance to that they are selecting the most suitable state for a variety of important reasons.
This study was completed by WEBRIS, a legal marketing agency.
Data was collected from the following: Indeed, Zip Recruiter, Tax Foundation, American Bankruptcy Institute, World Population Review, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Practitioner Data Bank, Wise Voter Divorce Rates, Public Legal, American Bar.
The 9 factors compared in this study show the best state for aspiring attorneys to live in.
WEBRIS put each factor of data in numerical order from 1-50, ranking the best state as 1 and the worst state as 50.
The data takes into account population and is calculated on a per, 1000 people basis.
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