Although they sometimes get a bad rap, lawyers play a vital role in our society by shaping, interpreting, and applying the law for their clients. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that over the next decade, the number of new jobs for attorneys will rise by more than 71,000.
As an attorney seeking fresh employment challenges, finding the ideal lawyer relocation destination in another city can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack with all the new openings out there. If you are thinking about pursuing a legal career elsewhere in the country, here are seven of the best cities for lawyers to practice in as 2021 draws to a close.
What are the Best Cities for Lawyers to Move to?
We based our ranking of the top U.S. cities for lawyers on data compiled at advisorsmith.com. This list also features larger metropolitan areas because significant cities typically have higher concentrations of businesses and organizations needing legal assistance.
With that said, these seven cities now offer the most attractive relocation opportunities for talented attorneys seeking “greener” career pastures:
As one of the best cities for black lawyers, our nation’s capital leads the pack. With an average annual attorney salary of $179,980, Washington, DC has several prominent universities and international organizations. As the epicenter of the federal government, rulemaking bodies, and powerful lobbying groups, this globally influential city holds many jobs for relocating attorneys.
The cost of living in Washington, DC runs roughly 50% above the national average, and there are approximately 7.2 lawyers per 1000 residents – the highest per capita figure in the nation. But there are also a lot of legal fields in the city that offer career enrichment potential, making it number one on our attorney relocation list.
With a diversified economy fueled by international trade, healthcare, aerospace, and oil, Houston sits strategically on the Gulf of Mexico. Attorneys in Houston earn an average annual salary of $175,380 while enjoying a comfortable cost of living that’s about 7% below comparable U.S. cities.
There are also only 1.6 attorneys per 1000 people within a sprawling metropolitan area that holds over 7 million people, ranking it below the national average of 2.5 per 1000. Several prestigious law firms are based in the city, offering job opportunities galore for qualified candidates.
Located within a midsized market in the northern part of the state, Tallahassee is Florida’s state capital and home to Florida State University. The city’s influence upon the state government and role as a regional hub for higher education, printing, and publishing drives its thriving economy.
Attorneys in Tallahassee earn an average yearly salary of $118,010 while benefitting from a cost of living roughly 7% below the national average. With all it has to offer, jobs for lawyers in the city abound, as there are fewer attorneys per capita in Tallahassee than most comparably sized U.S. cities.
World-renowned for its hard-working people and beautiful Lake Michigan skyline, Chicago boasts the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. As a global hub for finance, transportation, and technology, the “Windy City” has earned a reputation as one of the best cities for lawyers in the world.
As also one of the highest paying cities for lawyers, the average Chicago-based attorney earns $159,900 in salary annually while enjoying a cost of living that runs a modest 11% higher than the national average. Located in one of the best states for lawyers in 2021, Chicago is home to some of the largest and most influential law firms in the United States. There are 2.7 lawyers for every 1000 people on a per-capita basis, putting it slightly above the nation’s average.
With its cosmopolitan vibe, inviting beaches, and ubiquitous high rises, Miami, FL ranks fifth on our list of top cities for relocating attorneys. Situated in sunny South Florida, Miami is a major international trade, finance, and tourism hot spot. Known for its low taxes, strong economy, and mild climate, the average annual salary for a lawyer in this multicultural melting pot is a robust $145,430.
Although there are over 20,000 attorneys that practice in Miami’s metropolitan area, more than six million people live there. With a per capita ratio of 3.1 lawyers per 1000 residents, employment is still relatively easy to find in Miami’s legal community. To “sweeten the pot” even further, Miami is also home to some of the most prestigious law firms in the United States— many of which are involved in international legal proceedings.
Coming in at number six on our list is Birmingham, Alabama. Born out of the iron and steel industry, the average attorney in this charming Southern city earns $127,170 in salary each year. With an attractive cost-of-living that runs 16% below the national average, Birmingham also has a proud heritage forged in America’s Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Today, the Birmingham-Hoover metro area contains over 1.1 million residents while offering more per capita recreational “green space” than any other U.S. city, making it hard to resist for any attorney who values a healthy work/life balance. With just over 900 lawyers practicing in Birmingham, the ratio of attorneys to residents is on par with the national average.
Famous as the birthplace of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the U.S., with over 1.6 million people. As one of the most storied cities in our nation’s history, the “City of Brotherly Love” has a very established legal community which offers opportunities in nearly every practice area
While enjoying the city’s unique blend of history, architecture, and multicultural neighborhoods, Philadelphia attorneys earn an average annual salary of $152,100. The cost of living runs roughly 11% higher here than comparable U.S. cities, and there are 2.8 attorneys per 1000 people. Home to several Fortune 500 companies, Philadelphia’s prestigious corporate practice law firms also pull in business from neighboring Wilmington, Delaware and the Southern District of New York.
What Attorneys Need to Know About Moving to Another State
When relocating to another state, it may become necessary for you to take (and pass) the bar exam again and brush up on any applicable state laws that you aren’t otherwise familiar with.
According findlaw.com, these are some other things you might want to add to your relocation checklist to ensure a smoother practice transition:
- Notify current and former clients.
- Notify opposing counsel in all open matters.
- Notify the state and local bar associations.
- Notify your insurance company.
- Notify your banks and financial institutions.
- Update your website and social media accounts.
- Update any online directories.
- Update all online and offline advertising.
- Update your checks and practice management software.
- Update your form documents.
- Update your Google My Business, Apple Maps Connect, and other local listings.
- Reduce clutter by doing some cleaning and file archiving before you move.
- Meet your new neighbors, as they might be a great source of referrals.
Legal Recruiters Are an Invaluable Lawyer Relocation Resource
As you can see, moving your practice across state lines comes with many details. On the other hand, a failure to efficiently manage all those particulars can hinder the relocation process and put you behind schedule right out of the gate.
In addition to facilitating your job search so that all your career objectives are met, a reputable legal recruiter can also assist you with the relocation process to ensure no details get overlooked.
At Deep Footprint, the agency behind the Legal Recruiter Directory, we specialize in results-driven digital marketing solutions for legal headhunters, law firms, and legal placement firms.
Helping those we serve to realize higher client engagement and conversion rates is something we excel at every day. The Legal Recruiter Directory also provides online support that allows legal recruiters to place talented active or passive attorney candidates with prestigious law firms and corporations.