The 10 Best States to Start a Solo Law Firm

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You’re fresh out of law school and looking to start your own firm, or you’ve been with your firm for a while and want to try something new.

Either way, if you’re thinking of going rogue, you’re going to need a good place to do it. And that means it’s time for a road trip!

I chose ten states and their best cities for starting a solo law firm using data compiled by Squarefoot, the HuffingtonPost, Zillow, the American Bar Association, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (source links provided at the end of this piece).

A low but positive percentage change year over year for the number of active resident attorneys told me that a given state has a growing market for lawyers, but not as much competition as states with huge positive percentage changes. The included cities were selected based on salaries and rent prices. As a solo lawyer, you’ll need a good office space that won’t break the bank.

I broke the list of entries out by state, then city, and provided the same statistics for each (presented in descending order of the best places to live). Check out this article for additional resources on how to start your solo law firm.

The Ten Best States for Solo Lawyers

Ready to make your move? Don’t do anything before you check out this list.

Let’s hit the road!

1. District of Columbia

Average attorney salary: $162,800

Cost of living rank (where #1 is the least expensive state): 49 of 51

Active resident attorney count: 54,692 (2017), up from 52,711 (2016)

% Change: 3.8%

Average annual salary: $99,000

Median home price: $500,300

Salary as a percentage of home price: 19.8%

Median annual rent: $30,300

Rent as a percentage of income: 30.6%

2. Georgia

Average attorney salary: $137,280

Cost of living rank: 19 of 51

Active resident attorney count: 31,672 (2017), up from 31,499 (2016)

% Change: 0.5%

Best city: Atlanta

Average annual salary: $99,000

Median home price: $179,000

Salary as a percentage of home price: 55.3%

Median annual rent: $16,728

Rent as a percentage of income: 16.9%

3. Texas

Average attorney salary: $134,200

Cost of living rank: 15 of 51

Active resident attorney count: 89,361 (2017), up from 87,957 (2016)

% Change: 1.6%

Best city: Houston

Average annual salary: $90,000

Median home price: $141,300

Salary as a percentage of home price: 63.7%

Median annual rent: $16,932

Rent as a percentage of income: 18.8%

4. California

Average attorney salary: $155,750

Cost of living rank: 47 of 51

Active resident attorney count: 168,746 (2017), up from 167,690 (2016)

% Change: 0.6%

Best city: San Francisco

Average annual salary: $107,000

Median home price: $806,300

Salary as a percentage of home price: 13.3%

Median annual rent: $52,248

Rent as a percentage of income: 48.8%

5. Illinois

Average attorney salary: $132,910

Cost of living rank: 23 of 51

Active resident attorney count: 62,782 (2017), down from 63,060 (2016)

% Change: -0.4%

Best city: Chicago

Average annual salary: $95,000

Median home price: $200,200

Salary as a percentage of home price: 47.5%

Median annual rent: $19,920

Rent as a percentage of income: 21%

6. Massachusetts

Average attorney salary: $152,990

Cost of living rank: 46 out of 51

Active resident attorney count: 43,442 (2017), up from 43,221 (2016)

% Change: 0.5%

Best city: Boston

Average annual salary: $100,000

Median home price: $468,000

Salary as a percentage of home price: 19.8%

Median annual rent: $30,036

Rent as a percentage of income: 30%

7. Florida

Average attorney salary: $128,050

Cost of living rank: 26 out of 51

Active resident attorney count: 77,008 (2017), up from 75,697 (2016)

% Change: 1.7%

Best city: Orlando

Average annual salary: $85,960

Median home price: $269,000

Salary as a percentage of home price: 31.9%

Median annual rent: $17,700

Rent as a percentage of income: 20.5%

8. New York

Average attorney salary: $155,050

Cost of living rank: 47 out of 51

Active resident attorney count: 177,035 (2017), up from 175,195 (2016)

% Change: 1.1%

Best city: New York City

Average annual salary: $96,000

Median home price: $599,900

Salary as a percentage of home price: 16%

Median annual rent: $27,540

Rent as a percentage of income: 28.7%

9. Delaware

Average attorney salary: $152,490

Cost of living rank: 36 of 51

Active resident attorney count: 2,978 (2017), up from 2,952 (2016)

% Change: 0.9%

Best city: Wilmington

Average annual salary: 90,000

Median home price: $216,100

Salary as a percentage of home price: 41.6%

Median annual rent: $14,100

Rent as a percentage of income: 15.6%

10. Washington

Average attorney salary: $124,000

Cost of living rank: 37 out of 51

Active resident attorney count: 25,786 (2017), up from 25,577 (2016)

% Change: 0.8%

Best city: Seattle

Average annual salary: $86,000

Median home price: $521,400

Salary as a percentage of home price: 16.5%

Median annual rent: $28,752

Rent as a percentage of income: 33.4%

Where do you want to kick off your solo law firm?

Are you really craving the Houston weather, or are you more of a rainy Seattle person? Are you running a great solo firm somewhere else entirely? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @CapterraHalden.

No matter where you end up, you need the best tools to manage your law firm. Check out Capterra’s list of free law practice management software to find the best fit for your practice.

Sources for this piece:

Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.

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I live in MA with a solo practice and those numbers are skewed by the overwhelming number of highly paid Eastern MA lawyers ( the Boston area.) We have public defenders and prosecutors making around $ 37,000 here and solo lawyers not making much more.

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