New ranking names best states for aspiring lawyers - based on affordability, job prospects and well-being

A new ranking has revealed which states are the best for aspiring lawyers based on degree cost, job prospects, academic success and well-being.

The findings show that New York ranked top, mainly due to its academic success rate, college experience, and potential job opportunities.

The worst states include Idaho and North Carolina, while the category that the nation performed the poorest in overall came out as job prospects.

Jared Stern, a law expert at Uplift Legal Funding, encourages aspiring lawyers to weigh local job prospects and salary against work-life balance.

A new ranking has revealed which states are the best for aspiring lawyers pursuing a law degree at college next year - with New York ranked top. 

The ranking, created by Uplift Legal Funding,, assigned each state a score out of ten based on local job prospects, degree affordability, academic success rate, college experience, cost of living, and emotional well-being - to name the ideal place to pursue a career in law.  

Job prospects considered each state’s mean annual wage, specialization, and employment opportunities per 1000 jobs (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), while emotional wellbeing was based on mental health, happiness, and occupational stress levels.  

Degree affordability analyzed local law school stats, including the percentage of first-year students who receive financial aid, in-state tuition costs, and college living expenses.

Academic success was based on college selectivity, GPA medians, and bar pass rates.  

College experience assigned each state a night out affordability score and compiled Princeton Review scores for academic experience and ‘quality of life’. The cost of living accounted for average student loan debt, disposable income, and typical state rent costs.  

New York scored the best overall, ranking particularly highly for job prospects, academic success rate and college experience, making it the best choice for budding lawyers. 

The typical lawyer earns $188,900 in The Empire State, the third-highest salary behind California and Massachusetts. New York scored full marks for sector specialization and job opportunities, as there’s a high demand for law services and lawyers in the state. 

From an academic standpoint, law schools in New York are a top choice thanks to the state’s median GPA (3.46) and bar pass rate (82%) - while they also boast a 92% academic experience rating, according to the latest Princeton Review Law School Rankings. 

The area that the state performed the worst in was cost of living, as the high annual salary doesn’t leave much disposable income after NY’s current living wage of $45.7k is deducted. 

Renting in the state is also much more expensive than in other areas at $15.7k a year, while the average person harbors more student debt than in any other state ($37,678). 

Also among the top-performing states were Massachusetts, Illinois, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire performed best for degree affordability thanks to its relatively inexpensive in-state tuition ($37k) and high rate of students who receive financial aid (93%). 

Wisconsin offered the best college experience, the data reveals, with students awarding it 89 /100 for academic experience and a 9.6 /10 quality of life score in the Princeton Review.

The states that performed the poorest in the ranking include Idaho, which scored particularly poorly for job prospects and emotional wellbeing. 

The state offered one of the lowest annual wages at $96,810 - 49% less than New York - and has fewer job opportunities, while the state’s workers reported particularly high levels of occupational stress, suggesting a poor work-life balance and low levels of job satisfaction. 

 On a nationwide scale, the area that scored highest was academic success - as America’s law schools boast a high median GPA (3.43), bar pass rate (78%) and college selectivity (87 /100), meaning students should do well regardless of where they choose to study. 

However, the area that every state could improve in is emotional wellbeing, based on the nation’s average happiness score (52 /100) and high levels of occupational stress (according to the American Psychological Association).

Speaking on the findings, law expert Jared Stern at Uplift Legal Funding said: “Selecting a law school can be daunting for many, as there are plenty of factors to consider on top of academic success, graduate career prospects, and local student culture.  

“Although studying law has become synonymous with high stress - with recent stats showing one in three lawyers have experienced mental health issues since qualifying - it’s important to prioritize your mental health at every stage of your journey to avoid burnout. 

“Make sure you consider the cost of living when making college applications to reduce the pressure of day-to-day life outside of studying and make time to unwind with your friends.” 

Data was gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2023 Princeton Review Law School Rankings, the American Psychological Association, World Population Review, Numbeo, and the Education Data Initiative.  Please note: Alaska was excluded from the end ranking due to a lack of available data.