shumpshump wrote:I totally agree if you have ties to a big city like Chicago (which I really like), LA, or SF, don't care about doing top-level financial work, or aren't risk averse. The thing is that some of those things don't apply to lots of people so NYC is the best choice.
By the way, I earn less than 160k pre-law school in NYC and have never had money issues in doing the things I want to do. It may be overstated how much money you need to be happy in the city.
NYC definitely does the best finance work, hands down. Finance work, on the lawyering side, is also thankless and boring. The exit options are relatively secure and lucrative though. If you're risk-averse, you probably prefer a decent shot at $300k in-house at a bank than a decent shot at $300k as a partner in a regional firm.
But it's not sensible to look at "how much money you need to be happy in the city." What's important is what you can buy with the money you make slaving away for 2200+ billable hours a year. Kirkland associates can live in glass-and-steel high-rises with lake views within walking distance of work and tons of great bars and restaurants. Cravath associates live a bit further out, in a bit crappier place, and pay a bit more for the privilege. The real groaner is the extra $800/month or so that the State of NY and the City of NY take out of your paycheck, not to mention that dudes who work Cravath hours at Kirkland make 3x Cravath bonuses.
But, you know, New York girls are skinnier in the alcoholic/chain-smoker sort of way New Yorkers are, so that's gotta be worth a couple of bucks.