The leading New York law firms have broken the $30,000 salary barrier for new lawyers with no experience, according to a survey in the current issue of Student Lawyer. While last year's top salary was $28,000, some firms this year are paying $31,500.

Washington law firms pay the second highest salaries in the nation, a top of $27,000 -- up $2,000 from last year, according to the survey, which was conducted by Ronald S. Rock, director of research for David J. White and Associates of Chicago.

Those are the salaries paid by the biggest and best firms in New York and Wasnington. Lawyers getting jobs with smaller, less prestigious firms in other cities will be paid $11,000 to $12,000.

James Kilmer, a Chicago legal headhunter listed as the top five cities for lawyers Houston, "the proverbial boom town"; Charlotte-Durham; Washington, "It's still a city of lawyers"; Chicago, "Young lawyers should thrive as have many corporations," and Paducah, Ky., "After five years a young 'rainmaker,' or business-getter, should have all the business he or she can handle."

Kilmer's list of the five cities lawyers should avoid: Cleveland, Portland, Ore., Providence, R.I., Denver and Salt Lake City.

Following is a list of high and low salaries paid starting lawyers in major cities as reported by Student Lawyer:

Atlanta -- 12,000 to $21,000; Boston -- $12,500 to $22,000; Chicago -- $13,000 to $23,500; Cincinnati -- $12,000 to $19,500; Dallas -- $12,000 to $23,000; Denver -- $11,000 to $18,500.

Detroit -- $12,000 to $22,000; Honolulu -- $14,000 to $21,000; Houston -- $12,000 to $24,000; Kansas City -- $12,000 to $18,500; Los Angeles -- $12,500 to $22,500; Memphis -- $12,000 to $18,500; Miami/Orlando -- $12,000 to $20,000; Milwaukee -- $11,000 to $22,500.

Minneapolis -- $12,000 to $20,000; New York -- $15,000 to $31,500; San Francisco -- $12,000 to $21,000; Phoenix -- $12,500 to $19,500; Philadelphia -- $12,500 to $22,000; St Louis -- $12,500; to $20,000; San Diego -- $12,000 to $20,000; Toledo -- $12,500 to $18,500; Washington, D.C. -- $14,00 to $27,000.