Either I don't understand you calculations or you're not taking enough out for tax because I think your numbers are high. If in your 5th year you make $210,000 (the max salary I found on the list) and you pay only 40% in tax, which is low based on what my parents paid this past year -- all those things you didn't account for really add up, you would only take home 126,000 not 155,000
I guess I was thinking of 2 things -- 1) a lot of the large firms withold a portion of your "salary" and you get it when you hit your billable hours target. It can be as much as $25,000 at some firms and 2) you usually have to contribute to medical and dental insurance, which correctly isn't a tax but its not like you aren't going to pay it and that adds up, especially if you're married and want to include your significant other. Oh and don't forget about a contribution to a 401k or something else because pretty much everyone does that.But just on taxes I think you are correct about salary. I was just thinking about the other things that are essentially mandatory and can easily equal 10% plus.
I know people who live in NYC with $30-60K salaries and they do fine. I think there are a lot of people on this board who have unrealistic expectations of what you need to live in NYC or other big cities. Are you going to be able to live by yourself in a nice Manhattan apartment immediately? Probably not. I think the real issue is to think about what you'd likely be making had you not gone to law school, and for most people with liberal arts degrees, it's probably quite a bit less than the starting NYC salary.