It's no secret that being a lawyer is often a highly lucrative career. The average salary for lawyers in 2015 was $136,260, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That said, there is tremendous variation in how much lawyers get paid. The BLS notes that lawyers in the bottom 10 percent made less than $55,870 on average, compared to nearly $190,000 for the top 10 percent. Why the large gap in pay? The answer comes down to a number of factors, including years of experience, the type of law you practice and whether you're in the public or private sector. Additionally, geography can influence your salary. Lawyers in New York City, for instance, make roughly twice as much as lawyers in Charleston, South Carolina, on average.
CareerTrends, a career research site by Graphiq, used data from the BLS to find the metro areas where lawyers had the highest and lowest average salaries in 2015 (the most recent year available). Some of the usual suspects are among the best-paying places, like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. But the ranking has some surprises as well, such as the inclusion of New Bern, North Carolina and Orlando, Florida, in the top 10. Meanwhile, six of the top 10 lowest-paying places are located in the South
Keep in mind, one of the main reasons why salaries vary from place to place is due to differences in the cost of living. It's significantly more expensive to live in San Jose, California — one of the top-paying cities for lawyers — than Topeka, Kansas, one of the lowest. The BLS salary figures are not adjusted for cost of living.
Note: Some metro areas like New York-Newark-Jersey City are located in multiple states, but CareerTrends listed each metro as part of the state where it is primarily based. Ties are broken by the total number of lawyers.