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Lawyer Vs. Psychologist

Although the focus of their work differs, lawyers and psychologists both need good communication skills so they can interact with clients and strong investigative skills to perform research. Read on to compare these careers in greater detail.

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Comparing Lawyers to Psychologists

Lawyers work in the legal field while psychologists are social scientists. Both of these professions require extensive postsecondary training. Lawyers typically earn higher salaries while psychologists are enjoying a higher rate of job growth.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Lawyers Law degree and law license $118,160 9%
Psychologists Master's or doctoral degree $75,230 14%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Lawyers vs. Psychologists

Lawyers and psychologists perform many superficially similar tasks, such as meeting with clients or patients, performing research, preparing written documents and advising their clients or patients. Lawyers focus on legal information and may create a legal strategy to address their client's needs. Psychologists concentrate on understanding what causes different types of behavior and how to correct behavioral issues. Lawyers often represent clients in court. Some psychologists may also testify in court proceedings but they do not represent clients in court. The lawyer's goal is to help their clients resolve their legal issues while the goal of a psychologist is to increase our understanding of human behavior and how to correct inappropriate or undesirable behavior.

Lawyers

Lawyers are experts who advise clients concerning legal issues. They spend much of their time working in an office and often work overtime. Traveling may be necessary when meeting clients in jail or at other locations. Lawyers may opt to specialize and concentrate on working on specific types of cases or legal issues. With experience they also have the option of pursuing a career as a judge. Lawyers may work for law firms and seek advancement to the role of partner; companies, organizations and the government also employ lawyers.

Job responsibilities of a lawyer include:

  • Assigning tasks to legal support staff
  • Examining legal rulings
  • Drafting laws
  • Producing documents
  • Presenting evidence in court
  • Developing legal regulations

Psychologists

Psychologists are experts in human behavior. It's possible to start a career with a master's degree in psychology, although a doctoral degree is required for most positions, and those that work as clinical psychologists must also be licensed. Clinical psychologists are psychologists that work directly with patients who have disorders that may require extensive treatment. Some clinical psychologists specialize and work with specific types of patients or patients with specific conditions. Psychologists may have their own practice, work in schools or be employed by the government. Those that work in healthcare may be required to work evenings and weekends at hospitals and clinics.

Job responsibilities of a psychologist include:

  • Developing study proposals
  • Performing psychological research
  • Diagnosing patients
  • Consulting with other medical professionals
  • Publishing information about their research
  • Testifying in court

Related Careers

Those considering a career as a lawyer may also be interested in becoming a prosecuting attorney because prosecuting attorneys also present cases during trials. For those thinking about a future as a psychologist, a career as a divorce coach may also be appealing since divorce coaches use their mental health training to help divorcing couples resolve the terms of their divorce without going to court.

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