Lawyer Vs. Software Engineer: Salary & Job Description

Lawyers and software engineers both enjoy high salaries, typically over $100,000 per year, but their training and areas of specialty are quite different. Continue reading to learn how these careers compare.

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Comparing Lawyers to Software Engineers

Lawyers are required to have more training than software engineers and they earn a higher salary, while software engineers are currently experiencing faster job growth. They work in different industries and although they perform some superficially similar tasks the nature of their work is quite different.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Lawyers Law degree, license $118,160 8%
Software Engineers Bachelor's degree $102,280 (software developers) 24% (software developers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Computer Engineering Technologies, General
  • Computer Hardware
  • Computer Systems
  • Software Engineering

Responsibilities of Lawyers vs. Software Engineers

Lawyers and software engineers are both experts in their fields, they both typically work indoors in offices and they both meet with clients. They may both also delegate tasks to others or review their work. Both write documents related to their work and provide clients with advice; while lawyers will tell clients about their legal options to handle specific issues software engineers will make recommendations to clients about which computer systems and programs they need. Lawyers may need to go to court and present evidence to a judge and wait for their ruling. Software engineers may write some program code or assign that task to others and then check the code and revise their designs to meet their client's needs effectively.

Lawyers

Lawyers handle legal matters for their clients. They typically work in law offices. They may also spend some time traveling to different locations when they need to go to court or see a client who is incarcerated. Lawyers can opt to specialize in a particular area of law. Once they gain experience they may become a partner in a firm. Some lawyers pursue roles as a judge once they have experience.

Job responsibilities of a lawyer include:

  • Supervising paralegals and other assistants
  • Preparing for trials and hearings
  • Writing legal documents
  • Researching rulings
  • Presenting evidence in court
  • Filing motions

Software Engineers

Software engineers come up with ways to perform specific tasks on computers and electronic devices. They need to have the ability to multitask and see the whole picture because they are involved with each stage of the development of their creations. Common employers include computer design companies and software publishers. Many work in an office although this is a career field that can offer telecommuting opportunities. With relevant experience software engineers can opt to pursue advancement to management roles, although a graduate degree may be needed or preferred to qualify to become a computer and information systems manager. Software engineers benefit from creativity and problem-solving skills so that they can come up with effective programs.

Job responsibilities of a software engineer include:

  • Developing a design plan
  • Outlining program objectives
  • Determining which types of programs users need
  • Writing program code
  • Testing applications and programs
  • Correcting design flaws

Related Careers

Another career option aspiring lawyers may want to consider is to be a judicial clerk, since they also need to have a law degree and spend their time working on legal matters. Being a cloud infrastructure engineer may appeal to some software engineers because it also involves designing systems and cloud infrastructure engineers often collaborate with software developers.

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