Best and Worst States for Aspiring Lawyers: An Overview

A recent study commissioned by Uplift Legal Funding has pinpointed the top and bottom states for upcoming lawyers, evaluating factors like education expenses, employment opportunities, academic performance, and general well-being.


  • New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Virginia and Georgia emerge as the premier states for work life balance for aspiring legal professionals.
  • Idaho, North Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan and Wyoming lag behind in our rankings.

Study Overview

Uplift Legal Funding recently launched a comprehensive state-wise ranking for those eyeing a law degree next academic year. The scoring, out of ten, assessed states based on several criteria.

Job Prospects: This took into account the average yearly salary, area of specialization in law, and the relative number of lawyers in a given state.

Degree Affordability: Factors such as the fraction of first-year students receiving financial aid, in-state tuition fees, and cost of living on campus were considered.

Academic Success: Based on university acceptance rates, average GPAs, and bar exam passing percentages.

College Life Quality: This included factors like affordable recreational activities and scores from the Princeton Review, emphasizing academic experience and overall life quality.

Cost of Living: Represented by standard student debt, disposable income, and average rent.

Emotional Health: Metrics included mental wellness, contentment, and stress levels of working professionals.

Top Performing States

With its rich job market, academic reputation, and quality of college life, New York stands out as the preferred choice for law students. Lawyers in New York typically earn about $188,900 annually, third only to California ($201,530) and Massachusetts ($196,230).

Other states performing commendably include Massachusetts, Illinois, and Virginia. Each of these ranked exceptionally well in degree affordability, academic success, college experience and job prospects.

Lowest Performing States

Conversely, Idaho struggles, particularly in job prospects and emotional well-being. The state's average lawyer's salary is a mere $96,810, a staggering 49% below New York. Furthermore, its limited job openings and high work-related stress levels indicate subpar work satisfaction and work-life balance.

Other states that lagged in the study were North Carolina, Mississippi and Michigan. Each of these states has solid academic performance and college experience rankings but lag behind in degree affordability and job prospects.


Data was gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2023 Princeton Review Law School Rankings, the American Psychological Association, World Population Review, Numbeo, the Education Data Initiative and Gallup.

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