Houston and Dallas are among the top 10 best cities for young attorneys, based on the lawyers’ buying power, the legal community’s size and the cities’ social scenes, according to a survey by The National Jurist, a legal-education magazine.
The presidents of each city’s young lawyers association say they’re not surprised their cities made the list — Dallas was fifth, and Houston was 10th — but they think their cities should have ranked higher.
“I’m not sure who was ranked above us, but I think we compete in any legal market,” says Chip Brooker (pictured, left), president of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.
An article in The National Jurist’s October issue ranked 70 metro areas.
It calculated buying power using the National Association of Law Placement’s Class of 2010 buying power index metric, which uses New York City lawyers’ buying power as a baseline.
It calculated the size of the legal community by looking at numbers of people in legal occupations per the 2010 U.S. Census and numbers of law firms.
It calculated the city’s social scenes by examining the census count of 24- to 34-year-olds and each city’s arts and culture ranking by Sterling’s Places, an online research company.
Although Dallas ranked fifth, the magazine found it has the highest standard of living: Median salaries are $150,000, giving Dallas attorneys a buying power index of 2.21, compared to New York lawyers’ buying power index of 1. Meanwhile, 2 percent of the population works in legal occupations, and there are 3,075 law firms. The U.S. Census shows 25- to 34-year-olds make up 18.4 percent of Dallas’s population, and the city received a rank of eight for culture, says the survey.
Brooker, an associate with Haynes and Boone in Dallas, says he thinks young lawyers who come to Dallas do high-end legal work in a centrally located city where they can enjoy a better cost of living and lifestyle compared to other similar legal markets.
“This is a place you can not only have a house but a yard,” he says. “The arts community in Dallas is thriving. The restaurant community is great.”
Houston came in 10th on the list. Its median salary is $135,000 for young lawyers, giving it a 1.982 buying power index. Houston has 4,741 firms, and 1.6 percent of the population works in legal occupations. The 25- to 34-year-old population is 17.8 percent, and Houston ranked 8.5 for culture, according to the survey.
David A. Walton (pictured, right), president of the Houston Young Lawyers Association, says salaries for young lawyers are high because many large national and international firms keep Houston offices, and the city is “home base” to numerous Fortune 500 companies, which provide opportunities for attorneys.
When asked about his personal observations on the factors the magazine considered for its list — buying power, the size of the legal community and the social scene — Walton, partner in Beirne, Maynard & Parsons in Houston, jokes, “I don’t have much of a social life anymore.”
But he concedes that HYLA puts on a lively meet-and-greet each month for young lawyers and law students, and adds, “Houston has a great list of restaurants and bars to choose from. Absolutely, I think the social scene is strong here.”
-- Angela Morris