The website SmartAsset recently published a list of the best states to be a lawyer. The ranking gives equal weight to six criteria, including housing costs. Three criteria are measures of the number of lawyers already working in each state, with “more” treated as “better.” I’m not sure if the logic is that lawyers congregate in desirable spots or that an increase in lawyers means an increase in legal business.
Am I the only New Mexican who feels mild surprise every time we’re not near the bottom of state rankings? By SmartAsset’s criteria, New Mexico looks pretty good. We tied for 19th place among best states to practice law, overall.
One of SmartAsset’s metrics, however, is lawyer compensation, and here we’re in a more familiar position, keeping company with the usual suspects like Mississippi and West Virginia. SmartAsset takes its figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates that the average full-time lawyer in New Mexico earns $105,910 annually.
That’s nothing to sneeze at. But it’s also $39,840 less than the average Arizona lawyer makes. Colorado and Texas lawyers average still more. Compared to our neighboring states, we’re the hole in the earnings doughnut.