Want to Be a Lawyer? Move to California

According to Statista, there were 1.34 million registered lawyers in the United States of America in 2018. Leading the way is New York State which as of last year had 177,035 active and resident lawyers from a population of
19,849,399, making it the 2nd highest state for the number of lawyers per 10,000 residents.

Whilst the 89.2 lawyers per 10k people in New York is impressive, in the District of Columbia, there were 54692 lawyers registered from a population of 693,972, meaning an incredible 788.1 lawyers per 10,000 residents.


The California Story

In California, it is a different tale. Second only to Columbia in numbers (168,746 active lawyers), there are 42.7 lawyers per 10,000 residents in California, just behind Puerto Rico’s 42.8.

However, it is in the earnings that California holds its own. In 2017, Lawyers across the US made a median salary of $119,250, a slight increase from the $118,160 recorded in 2016. For California lawyers, especially Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers, that figure is considerably higher.

In fact, California lawyers of all types, the annual mean wage stood at $168,200, just above New York’s annual mean average of $165,260. Despite being quite a but lower than the top earning state of Columbia, where its lawyers earn an annual mean average of $189,560

So, why California with its glamorous Los Angeles and San Francisco cities? Well, the state of California has strong law schools in UC Hastings COL; San Francisco CA, Loyola Law School; Los Angeles CA and of course, UC Berkeley SOL Boalt Hall; Berkeley CA. It also has the highest mean wage of any metropolitan area with lawyers in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California earning an annual mean wage of $198,100, a full $10k more than the 2nd ranked area – San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; also in California. Five out of the top 10 Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Lawyers are all in California.

In short, becoming a lawyer of any kind – be it personal injury, criminal defense or whatever, still pays considerably higher than most professions. And, if you want to make the most money once qualified, and have just an average number of competitors – move to California (there are worse places you can be!)

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Ben Myers