Average Starting Salary For Lawyers by State

As you consider pursuing a legal career, you must be aware that your salary will depend heavily on where you work – private practice graduates tend to enjoy higher pay than those working for governments or serving judicial clerkships.

Biglaw firms typically utilize the Cravath scale when setting starting salaries for lawyers in each state. This article compares average starting salaries across states.

New York

Salaries of New York lawyers can vary significantly, depending on the nature and size of the law they practice, firm size, and geographic location. Lawyers working for the government or small firms in rural areas may receive lower wages than their colleagues who work at more significant, more prestigious firms.

New York is home to numerous prestigious law firms that attract high-profile clients at premium rates for their services, which allows lawyers at these firms to command high salaries.

Milbank and Cadwalader Law firms led by Milbank have recently announced significant salary increases for first-year associates, surpassing $200,000. Other law firms should follow suit, which indicates a high demand for legal talent in New York.


Lawyers have an excellent reputation for making big bucks, yet their earnings can depend on field and location. Intellectual property and medical malpractice often command higher pay than general practice fields such as tax or corporate and securities law.

New lawyers typically make approximately $160,000 during their first three years as lawyers; this figure may differ depending on factors like firm size and location. Large firms tend to provide larger starting salaries, while small firms and government jobs often offer lower starting salaries.

Overall, California, Massachusetts, and New York are considered the three best states for attorneys; however, Vermont and Pennsylvania offer higher-than-average starting salaries, and several cities, such as White Plains, New York City, and Boston, pay above the national average starting salaries.


Massachusetts’ thriving industries and economic growth have expanded its legal market, with lawyers specializing in intellectual property, corporate law, and healthcare law often commanding top salaries.

Geographic location, demand for legal services, and type of employer all affect lawyer salaries. Large law firms usually pay higher wages than legal employers that operate nationwide or globally.

According to the 2021 National Association of Law Placement Associate Salary Survey, the median first-year salary for new lawyers at private-sector firms was $154,000. Established law firm partners may also make substantial incomes.


Connecticut boasts one of the highest average salaries for lawyers nationally and provides numerous career growth and advancement opportunities.

Law is a highly demanding profession that demands time and dedication, yet its rewards more than compensate for these efforts.

Salary options depend heavily upon where and in what area of law you practice. Trial lawyers tend to command higher salaries than corporate lawyers; regardless of specialization, the law is a gratifying career that provides stable living arrangements while setting money aside for emergencies and retirement savings.

New Jersey

Becoming a lawyer can be expensive and time-consuming, but it can lead to a fulfilling and lucrative career. This career could help pay off student loans while creating savings for future retirement needs.

New Jersey lawyer salaries are among the highest in the country and higher than average across many other states, so if you’re considering moving or changing careers, checking the average salaries in each state before making your decision may be worthwhile.

Starting salaries for attorneys in New Jersey range between USD 132,660 and USD 145,000 depending on the firm and their experience; it represents a generous starting wage for recent law school graduates. The median salary stands at 99,500 USD, which means half of all attorneys make less than this figure while half earn more.


In conclusion, understanding the average starting salaries for lawyers across different states provides valuable insights for aspiring legal professionals. While factors like cost of living and demand for legal services contribute to variations, it’s essential to consider both the financial landscape and personal preferences when planning your legal career. Whether you’re eyeing a bustling legal market or a state with a lower cost of living, this information equips you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your professional journey.

Remember, success in the legal field goes beyond just salary figures. Consider the opportunities for growth, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction as you embark on your legal career. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of the average starting salaries by state, you can confidently navigate the path toward a rewarding and fulfilling legal profession.

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