I am a T5 rising 2L, just landed a job in Charlotte for next summer at major firm which I am taking over positions in NYC and Chicago.
The Charlotte legal market has recovered a great deal. For reference, most large area firms pay 145k, but 3 firms now pay 160k, one of which I will start at, which is in my view an unbeatable deal. The cultures seem better here and the base and bonus scales are identical, with most of the work being on national, holistically allocated clients, so you do not get the "less prestigious" or low profile deals.
Even at one of the more regional, 145k firms, opportunities are great, but the pay scale for raises is someone slower.
Having lived in NYC area before law school, it is a nightmare compared to Charlotte and the cost savings is almost too good to believe here. For those interested, top paying firms are Cadwalader W&T, Dechert, and Mayer Brown, all of which have pretty small offices. For those interested, good school and record obviously help but it's important to show strong narrative for NC connection.