Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

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bigadi99

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Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by bigadi99 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:33 pm

Can we list the LCOL cities where biglaw pays 190K (first-year pay)?

decimalsanddollars

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by decimalsanddollars » Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:47 pm

Generally, Houston, Dallas, and Chicago are on that list. I don't know what the pay is like in big Ohio markets, but some big firms are deeply rooted there. Some markets like Miami and Atlanta have a handful of market-paying firms, but (1) most firms in both cities don't pay NYC market and (2) COL in each city isn't that low, all things considered.

kovdak02

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by kovdak02 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:57 pm

Chicago is not especially cheap in the same way that Dallas and Houston are (though certainly cheaper than NY or SF), and the tax angle only exacerbates that. If your goal is to have as much $ left over at the end of the month, shooting for Texas biglaw is the right answer.

UMich11

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by UMich11 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:56 pm

Ann Arbor has one, with Gunderson. Detroit if you're looking for not $190 with Foley and Jones Day. Cleveland with Jones Day.

Sackboy

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Sackboy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:57 pm

There really are almost no firms that are truly on the $190k payscale. Almost every firm that starts at $190k in a non-major market is going to break from lockstep after the first year or two and then highly compress both salary and bonus compensation growth afterwards.

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BrainsyK

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by BrainsyK » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:08 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:57 pm
There really are almost no firms that are truly on the $190k payscale. Almost every firm that starts at $190k in a non-major market is going to break from lockstep after the first year or two and then highly compress both salary and bonus compensation growth afterwards.
Heh, in TX alone, there's K&E, L&W, V&E, S&S, WSGR, White & Case, Skadden, Gibson, STB, Weil, Willkie, and Sidley. The list goes on. No paycuts or compression apparent in the news or Vault pages.

Sackboy

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Sackboy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:08 pm

BrainsyK wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:08 pm
Sackboy wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:57 pm
There really are almost no firms that are truly on the $190k payscale. Almost every firm that starts at $190k in a non-major market is going to break from lockstep after the first year or two and then highly compress both salary and bonus compensation growth afterwards.
Heh, in TX alone, there's K&E, L&W, V&E, S&S, WSGR, White & Case, Skadden, Gibson, STB, Weil, Willkie, and Sidley. The list goes on. No paycuts or compression apparent in the news or Vault pages.
Again, non-major markets. TX is a major market at this point.
Based on 2016 data, Houston+Dallas has more biglaw lawyers than LA (#4 biglaw market by headcount). Once you throw in Austin, you're probably encroaching on Chicago (#3 biglaw market by headcount).

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by ConfusedNYer » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:28 pm

As is being discussed above. Texas is really the only low cost of living market with a significant number of firms that pay 190k without any compression. People might be able to cite some exceptions in other cities. But I do not think any other market in a low cost area is really going to have more than 1 or 2 firms without compression.

SamuelDanforth

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by SamuelDanforth » Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:53 pm

This probably isn't the time or place, but I've always been puzzled by the fact that the Seattle market seems so weak salary wise. The three largest major law firms either pay less than market (DWT and KL Gates) or depart from market very quickly (Perkins). There are really just 3-4 satellite offices that seem to pay market. Is it because local companies (Amazon, Microsoft, Tableau/Salesforce, Redfin, Expedia, Costco, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Nintendo, etc) are happy sending the bulk of their local work to Perkins and DWT, and so there isn't space for more market-paying firms to come in and push up salaries? Before COVID it seems like it would be a desirable market for firms like Gunderson, Goodwin, Mofo, etc.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:31 pm

SamuelDanforth wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:53 pm
This probably isn't the time or place, but I've always been puzzled by the fact that the Seattle market seems so weak salary wise. The three largest major law firms either pay less than market (DWT and KL Gates) or depart from market very quickly (Perkins). There are really just 3-4 satellite offices that seem to pay market. Is it because local companies (Amazon, Microsoft, Tableau/Salesforce, Redfin, Expedia, Costco, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Nintendo, etc) are happy sending the bulk of their local work to Perkins and DWT, and so there isn't space for more market-paying firms to come in and push up salaries? Before COVID it seems like it would be a desirable market for firms like Gunderson, Goodwin, Mofo, etc.
As an EC/VC midlevel at one of the firms you mentioned in the last sentence, also curious about this. Seems there's a decently robust scene up there for my practice and the COL is attractive but not a lot of interest from the usual players in establishing operations up there.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Sackboy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:31 pm


As an EC/VC midlevel at one of the firms you mentioned in the last sentence, also curious about this. Seems there's a decently robust scene up there for my practice and the COL is attractive but not a lot of interest from the usual players in establishing operations up there.
From what I understand, EC/VC work isn't particularly profitable. Talked to an equity EC/VC partner at a V100, and he made the comment that the only reason the firm had/kept the group is because it ended up generating M&A, CM, and IP Transactions work down the line. This means that you're probably just not going to see many major shops doing that type of work or swooping into a market even if there is a robust scene.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by LBJ's Hair » Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:19 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 6:09 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 5:31 pm


As an EC/VC midlevel at one of the firms you mentioned in the last sentence, also curious about this. Seems there's a decently robust scene up there for my practice and the COL is attractive but not a lot of interest from the usual players in establishing operations up there.
From what I understand, EC/VC work isn't particularly profitable. Talked to an equity EC/VC partner at a V100, and he made the comment that the only reason the firm had/kept the group is because it ended up generating M&A, CM, and IP Transactions work down the line. This means that you're probably just not going to see many major shops doing that type of work or swooping into a market even if there is a robust scene.
That would make sense given the economics of VC. Orders of magnitude less AUM in the space than there is in PE, and the early stage companies do not want to spend big $$$ on lawyers.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by MarkmanPapers » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:36 pm

Philly with Morgan Lewis and Dechert (and DLA but they do microscopic levels of entry level hiring) is another option, but every other firm in the market is below market.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by JusticeSquee » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:40 pm

ConfusedNYer wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:28 pm
As is being discussed above. Texas is really the only low cost of living market with a significant number of firms that pay 190k without any compression. People might be able to cite some exceptions in other cities. But I do not think any other market in a low cost area is really going to have more than 1 or 2 firms without compression.
Chicago and Dallas have a similar COL, no? I honestly think Houston is more expensive than either of those cities (maybe the lack of state income tax balances things out though). Dallas is probably the ideal outcome. Fun city, low COL, cheap real estate.

ChickenSalad

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by ChickenSalad » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:00 pm

Needless to say, picking a market that’s the best bang for your buck isn’t a great idea. You aren’t likely to get many interviews or job offers at random markets you don’t have connections to. And if you land at one of the few firms in a market that starts at 190k, there’s no where to move to in the market for similar comp if you’re unhappy or not a fit.

Also, there’s a ton of compression at non major markets.

That said, large Texas markets and Chicago are the obvious ones. After that, places like Philly and Charlotte have just a few firms starting at 190k.

malibustacy

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by malibustacy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:08 pm

MarkmanPapers wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:36 pm
Philly with Morgan Lewis and Dechert (and DLA but they do microscopic levels of entry level hiring) is another option, but every other firm in the market is below market.
Not anymore with MLB with the salary cuts

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:10 am

I'm in Austin biglaw (corporate) and can say that my gig is probably the most extremely skewed, not just in terms of salary (full NY scale with no compression + NY market bonuses) to COL (getting more expensive but no more than Houston-level overall) but also in terms of salary to what clients are willing to pay. The EC/VC scene in Austin is a fraction of the Bay and as someone pointed out earlier it's not even that profitable of a practice. Turnover seems high in this market -- mediocre associates get forced out with some regularity, whereas in bigger markets there's plenty of hours to go around and they can cruise for years.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Iowahawk » Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:56 am

JusticeSquee wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:40 pm
ConfusedNYer wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:28 pm
As is being discussed above. Texas is really the only low cost of living market with a significant number of firms that pay 190k without any compression. People might be able to cite some exceptions in other cities. But I do not think any other market in a low cost area is really going to have more than 1 or 2 firms without compression.
Chicago and Dallas have a similar COL, no? I honestly think Houston is more expensive than either of those cities (maybe the lack of state income tax balances things out though). Dallas is probably the ideal outcome. Fun city, low COL, cheap real estate.
Chicago is five times the city that Dallas is imo. Its downtown is second only to Manhattan, it’s one of the best few cities in the country for both cultural institutions and food, great parks and lake, lots of diversity, strong public transit. And still pretty cheap.

kovdak02

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by kovdak02 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:20 pm

Using the CNN cost of living comparison calculator: https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cos ... index.html

$200k in Manhattan is the equivalent of making:

$75k in Houston
$82k in Atlanta
$87k in Dallas
$90k in Miami
$96k in Chicago
$116k in LA
$118k in Boston
$129k in DC
$157k in San Francisco

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EzraFitz

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by EzraFitz » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:32 pm

Wilmington has at least 3-4 firms paying market. Local firms start around 175k, but the biglaw shops generally pay market, with a quite low COL.

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nealric

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by nealric » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:01 pm

kovdak02 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:20 pm
Using the CNN cost of living comparison calculator: https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cos ... index.html

$200k in Manhattan is the equivalent of making:

$75k in Houston
$82k in Atlanta
$87k in Dallas
$90k in Miami
$96k in Chicago
$116k in LA
$118k in Boston
$129k in DC
$157k in San Francisco
We've been through this before on TLS, but that sort of calculation doesn't really make sense when comparing biglaw salaries in the respective cities because it tends to rests on unlikely equivalencies. For example, those calculators might include cost of parking in cost of living because it assumes if you owned a car in Houston you will probably own one in NYC. But in reality, most people aren't going to own a car in NYC. They also assume that the size of your residence will remain relatively stable, when most people will downsize. Both Houston and NYC are enormous places. Cost of living in River Oaks or the Upper East Side is pretty high. Totally different story in the Houston outer suburbs or Staten Island. A calculator that looks at the entire city and averages it is less relevant to a biglaw associate that needs a reasonable commute. Finally (and relevant to new law school graduates), your loan payments are the same no matter where you live.

I actually moved from NYC biglaw to Houston. Cost of living is less, but it's not less than half. Just based on personal experience, I'd say $190k in NYC is more like $250k in Houston. But it's just a very different lifestyle, so it's very difficult to make a true apples to apples comparison.

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2013

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by 2013 » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:14 pm

nealric wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:01 pm
kovdak02 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:20 pm
Using the CNN cost of living comparison calculator: https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cos ... index.html

$200k in Manhattan is the equivalent of making:

$75k in Houston
$82k in Atlanta
$87k in Dallas
$90k in Miami
$96k in Chicago
$116k in LA
$118k in Boston
$129k in DC
$157k in San Francisco
We've been through this before on TLS, but that sort of calculation doesn't really make sense when comparing biglaw salaries in the respective cities because it tends to rests on unlikely equivalencies. For example, those calculators might include cost of parking in cost of living because it assumes if you owned a car in Houston you will probably own one in NYC. But in reality, most people aren't going to own a car in NYC. They also assume that the size of your residence will remain relatively stable, when most people will downsize. Both Houston and NYC are enormous places. Cost of living in River Oaks or the Upper East Side is pretty high. Totally different story in the Houston outer suburbs or Staten Island. A calculator that looks at the entire city and averages it is less relevant to a biglaw associate that needs a reasonable commute. Finally (and relevant to new law school graduates), your loan payments are the same no matter where you live.

I actually moved from NYC biglaw to Houston. Cost of living is less, but it's not less than half. Just based on personal experience, I'd say $190k in NYC is more like $250k in Houston. But it's just a very different lifestyle, so it's very difficult to make a true apples to apples comparison.
Also, this is somewhat skewed because you’re comparing manhattan to entire cities (both the poor and affluent areas). Obviously manhattan population-wise is still larger than most, but it’s unfair to include the tenderloin (this area may be expensive now, who knows) in the SF cost of living if you’re not going to include Queens or something.

If you compare FiDi with other financial districts, it would show a more comparable cost of living calculation.

lawlo

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by lawlo » Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:34 pm

nealric wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 5:01 pm
kovdak02 wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:20 pm
Using the CNN cost of living comparison calculator: https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cos ... index.html

$200k in Manhattan is the equivalent of making:

$75k in Houston
$82k in Atlanta
$87k in Dallas
$90k in Miami
$96k in Chicago
$116k in LA
$118k in Boston
$129k in DC
$157k in San Francisco
We've been through this before on TLS, but that sort of calculation doesn't really make sense when comparing biglaw salaries in the respective cities because it tends to rests on unlikely equivalencies. For example, those calculators might include cost of parking in cost of living because it assumes if you owned a car in Houston you will probably own one in NYC. But in reality, most people aren't going to own a car in NYC. They also assume that the size of your residence will remain relatively stable, when most people will downsize. Both Houston and NYC are enormous places. Cost of living in River Oaks or the Upper East Side is pretty high. Totally different story in the Houston outer suburbs or Staten Island. A calculator that looks at the entire city and averages it is less relevant to a biglaw associate that needs a reasonable commute. Finally (and relevant to new law school graduates), your loan payments are the same no matter where you live.

I actually moved from NYC biglaw to Houston. Cost of living is less, but it's not less than half. Just based on personal experience, I'd say $190k in NYC is more like $250k in Houston. But it's just a very different lifestyle, so it's very difficult to make a true apples to apples comparison.
Yeah, the Houston comparison is a little skewed too because the city itself is so big. It takes into account cheap areas that could be a 2 hour commute to downtown to calculate that, while most lawyers will want to live close to work to avoid traffic which would really drive up the cost.

Regardless it is still probably the cheapest major city that pays market. People also forget that it's not just a quantitative difference in value but also qualitative. A 2k per month 1 bedroom apartment in Houston is borderline luxury and gives you less than a 20 min commute to the office. Houses are also a possibility and they're big. It's much different than living in a closet or having roommates at the same price.

To the poster above talking about Austin--Houston is definitely cheaper than Austin. Not sure where that confusion comes from as someone familiar with both places.

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Auxilio » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:42 am

Delaware has a good chunk of offices that pay market, and even the local rates aren't bad considering how cheap it is (while still being relatively close to Philly, and even DC/NY).

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Re: Low Cost of Living but 190K Payscale

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:30 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:40 pm
ConfusedNYer wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:28 pm
As is being discussed above. Texas is really the only low cost of living market with a significant number of firms that pay 190k without any compression. People might be able to cite some exceptions in other cities. But I do not think any other market in a low cost area is really going to have more than 1 or 2 firms without compression.
Chicago and Dallas have a similar COL, no? I honestly think Houston is more expensive than either of those cities (maybe the lack of state income tax balances things out though). Dallas is probably the ideal outcome. Fun city, low COL, cheap real estate.
Houston and Dallas are both significantly cheaper than Chicago. Both Houston and Dallas have all sorts of sub-500k within 30 minutes of downtown, and sub-1M large houses within 20 minutes. Nothing like that exists in Chicago. Having lived in both Dallas and Houston, they're very close to the same COL. Everyone in Dallas thinks Houston sucks, and everyone in Houston thinks Dallas sucks. But they both have a plethora of market firms. I had offers from firms in both, and chose Houston. I have friends that had offers from both and chose Dallas. While the cities are laid out very differently, they offer very similar things to do.

Downtown Chicago is definitely better than downtown Dallas or Houston, but the Texas cities have a better bang for your buck imo.

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