Comparing Lawyers to Doctors
Lawyers and doctors are both highly trained professionals who must earn professional degrees in their field and be licensed. Doctors require additional training and specialize in providing medical care, while lawyers address the legal needs of their clients.
|Job Title||Educational Requirements||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Outlook (2016-2026)*|
|Lawyer||Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree||$118,160||8%|
|Doctor||Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree||$208,000 or more||13%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Responsibilities of Lawyers vs. Doctors
Most of the duties that lawyers and doctors perform are different. Lawyers meet with clients while doctors meet with patients. Both of these professionals spend time reviewing information related to their client's case or their patient's condition. Lawyers provide information about laws and regulations and have legal materials produced for their clients as well as give their clients an assessment of how serious they think their legal matters are and what needs to be done to address them. Doctors, on the other hand, examine their patients' physical condition, identify what medical issues are affecting them and determine how to treat these medical problems.
Lawyers are legal experts who are qualified to present options to their clients for addressing their legal issues. Their duties may vary from producing a legal document, such as a will, to representing a client during a trial. Lawyers need to have problem-solving skills so that they can develop effective legal strategies to effectively represent their clients' interests. Lawyers may work for the government or be employed by a law firm or business; they may also have their own practices. They may spend some of their time traveling to courts and prisons, although most of their work is done in an office. Overtime is common in this profession.
Job responsibilities of a lawyer include:
- Filing legal papers
- Reviewing case law
- Updating clients on the status of their case
- Directing paralegals and legal assistants to prepare trial materials
Doctors are responsible for looking after the medical needs of their patients. With additional training, some may opt to specialize and practice a specific type of medicine or work as a surgeon. Doctors typically work for hospitals, medical clinics or doctors' offices. Their shifts can vary based on where they're employed, and it's common for them to work any time of the day or night, including weekends and holidays. As part of their duties, they may stitch wounds, set broken bones and provide patients with prescriptions.
Job responsibilities of a doctor include:
- Determining what medical tests are needed for diagnosis
- Presenting treatment options to patients after diagnosing them
- Performing medical procedures or prescribing medications that can treat patients' conditions
- Educating patients about their condition
- Providing on-call services
Lawyers may opt to advance to a role as a judge, so individuals considering a career as a lawyer may be interested in exploring the work that judges do. Aspiring doctors may also want to consider the role of physician assistant, since these professionals also provide medical treatment to patients. The links listed here lead to more information about these related career options.