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In the legal field and wondering where you should work? Attorneys are generally among the highest-paid professionals in any given market, but not all markets are the same. Earning $160,000 in New York City is vastly different than earning $160,000 in Louisville, Kentucky. This is due to differences in the cost of living in each geographic location. For those not familiar with the concept, differences in cost of living refer to the differing costs of identical items in different locations. For example, a gallon of milk may be $3.79 in New York City and $1.99 in Louisville. The aggregate differences in various items, from housing to clothing to food, can be expressed in what is called a Cost of Living Index. In a Cost of Living Index, an attempt is made to calculate a single number that represents the average cost of living across a variety of categories. This enables easy comparison between locations. Thanks to LLM Info, we have an infographic that not only compares the cost of living in all 50 states, but that also incorporates the variances in attorney salaries. Here are the four best states for attorneys to work, from a cost of living perspective:


1. Mississippi

Average attorney salary: Over $91,000 When adjusted to reflect cost of living: Over $91,000 Mississippi’s high ranking comes primarily from the exceedingly low cost of housing in the state. According to this index (which we used for cost of living comparisons described below), Mississippi has the ninth lowest housing costs in the country, and the top-ranked states are not very far ahead. Combined with its relatively high attorney salaries that are almost 20 percent higher than the nationwide average, from a purely financial perspective, Mississippi may be the best state in which an attorney can practice. Earnings are high, and they enable lawyers to purchase more than the vast majority of other states in the country.

2. Georgia

Average attorney salary: Over $91,000 When adjusted to reflect cost of living: Over $91,000 In Georgia, average real estate costs are below that of even Mississippi and enable attorneys practicing there to stretch their dollar further than in most other states. It should be mentioned that statewide data includes rural and urban counties, but the averages provide rough comparisons that can help attorneys find the most paycheck-friendly places to practice. A data table comparing America’s metro areas, for those who are interested in comparing the costs of practicing at firms located in various large cities, can be found here.

3. Illinois

Average attorney salary: Over $91,000 When adjusted to reflect cost of living: Over $91,000 Housing costs in Illinois are not as affordable as the previous two states, but across the other main cost of living index categories (groceries, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous expenses), Illinois is well balanced and remains one of the best places to earn and spend a dollar.

4. Indiana

Average attorney salary: $81,000 - $90,000 When adjusted to reflect cost of living: Over $91,000 Indiana has the highest overall cost of living affordability ranking, but due to attorney salaries that don’t run as high as the other states described above, it doesn’t top the list. Other strong performers, according to the infographic, are Texas, Florida and a variety of other states in the mid-South, Midwest and Northwest. Cost of living isn’t everything, of course, but for attorneys who are flexible, these states should provide some serious food for thought.
This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator, Brian Childs on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U– an education-technology company that offers online resources for graduate students such as LLMInfo.com.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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