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Of Kings, Psychopaths, and Lawyers

Vivia Chen

January 9, 2013


Cities where your law salary will go far. NALP just released its annual list of top cities for law grads according to buying power. Using New York as the benchmark (the buying power index—BPI—"was calculated using New York City's median reported private practice salary for the class of 2011 and cost of living"), NALP looked at 76 cities that reported at least 15 law firm salaries.

First, the top 10 cities where you can live royally as a starting lawyer: 

City Median Reported Salary Salary required to Yield New York City Buying Power* Buying Power Index
Dallas, TX $135,000 $70,350 1.919
Wilmington, DE 145,000 79,710 1.819
Houston, TX 115,000 65,670 1.751
Charlotte, NC 115,000 68,230 1.686
Los Angeles, CA 160,000 97,110 1.648
Boston, MA 160,000 100,400 1.594
Costa Mesa, CA 160,000 104,350 1.533
Washington, DC 160,000 104,790 1.527
Nashville, TN 100,000 65,960 1.516
Grand Rapids, MI 97,500 65,375 1.484


And the bottom 10 cities where you are likely to feel much poorer:

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 60,000 81,170 0.739
Orlando, FL 52,000 71,520 0.727
Little Rock, AR 50,000 69,980 0.714
Montgomery, AL 47,500 71,150 0.668
Albany, NY 54,000 81,390 0.660
Long Beach, CA 63,700 97,110 0.649
Beverly Hills, CA 60,000 97,110 0.618
Charleston, SC 45,000 72,910 0.617
Fairfax, VA 62,500 104,790 0.592
Honolulu, HI 70,000 122,710 0.571


I don't think most folks would be startled by the top cities on NALP's list, though some of the bottom ones knocked me off my chair. Who would have guessed that you'd have to pay through the nose to live in places like Little Rock, Montgomery, and Albany? I'm sure they have their charms, but they're not exactly dream cities. All things considered, wouldn't you rather be a starving lawyer in New York, Paris, or Rome?


Norman-batesAre you a lawyer because you're a psychopath? Or a psychopath because you're a lawyer? It's a complicated question, isn't it? I bring this up only because Business Insider lists the top 10 profession that draw a disproportionate number of psychopaths. And guess what? Lawyer is on the list! (For all you definition fiends out there, Business Insider reminds us that "psychopathy" is a personality disorder that's "characterized by shallow emotions (in particular reduced fear), stress tolerance, lacking empathy, coldheartedness, lacking guilt, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, and antisocial behaviors such as parasitic lifestyle and criminality.")

I know you can't wait, so here's the complete list:

1. CEO

2. Lawyer

3. Media (TV/Radio)

4. Salesperson

5. Surgeon

6. Journalist

7. Police Officer

8. Clergyperson

9. Chef

10. Civil Servant

And what are the "nice" professions, where few psychopaths reside? Well, they include caregiver, nurse, therapist, craftsperson, beautician/stylist, charity worker, teacher, artist, doctor, and accountant.

Of course, I fall into two of the psychopath professions: journalist and lawyer. Should I be worried?

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email chief blogger Vivia Chen at [email protected] 

 Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist


Top photo: Prince William and the former Kate Middleton.

Bottom photo: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho.


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What are the professions that make them rich. Just for he profession alone. What are the common traits for a certain job. In lieau with that, what profession will most likely make people rich.

" I fall into two of the psychopath professions: journalist and lawyer. Should I be worried? "

No. Although maybe WE should be worried!

I am surprised that New York, NY is not on the top ten list.

I would have thought that a psychologist and a used car salesman would be on the list more than lawyers?

Good dinner conversation.


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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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