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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Pound for pound isn't a profession in law miles ahead of one in medicine?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26879points) November 17th, 2010

If you are planning a profession after high school pound for pound isn’t it better to go into law than medicine? The schooling is way shorter, the earning potential after college is more than double, even as an associate you can earn more than $100 and hour, (you won’t get that as an intern), and the likelihood that you’d be sued is very small. A big added bonus is you get to pay off the college debt way quicker. Pound for pound why not steer a teen towards law and them them to dump medicine?

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20 Answers

Sarcasm's avatar

Only if the only factors you’re interested are (1) a lack of time in education, (2) money.
Personally, I see doctors as a guaranteed good. While some lawyers do good, there also plenty of bad too.
So no, pound for pound, I’d be far more proud to associate myself with a doctor than a lawyer.

I’d like to add this slam poetry. It’s a teacher, but it’s the same mentality.

Soubresaut's avatar

I see what you’re saying math-and-numbers-wise, but I’d hafta say steer them towards their own passion, or they’re gonna be feeling empty, no matter how rich they are on paper.

thekoukoureport's avatar

life isn’t about which career is better, you can make all the money in the world and still be unhappy. In todays world, If you follow your passion, you will have a chance to succeed to your comfort level. But to think of a career based solely on money and education is rather shortsighted. What if you steered your child towards becoming a doctor only to find out that he faints at the sight of blood. oops ruined that life. The better choice is top allow the person to choose their path.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The wrong reason to go into any profession is because you think you’ll make a lot of money at it. The legal profession is glutted with people who go to law school because they’re not sure what to do with a history/English/Romance Languages degree, so they decide that they might as well go to law school. The 2009 graduating class from every law school in the country faced job losses even before they showed up for work. Ivy League graduates, expecting to earn $100,000 or more a year, and to have their grad school loans forgiven in exchange for working their asses off, found themselves with a $65,000 severance package and a “See Ya!” Senior associates, in their 50’s are facing layoffs from firms across the country and are having to reinvent themselves or go into solo practice. That is the one thing about a law degree – you can always work for yourself.

Most of the 2009 graduates have found employment but in firms of 10 attorneys or less, or outside of traditional legal employment.

iphigeneia's avatar

In this day and age, job security is more important than both of those factors.

Passion and interest aside, I think that medicine is a more sensible career than law. Finding work is much easier, and you will probably be held in higher esteem than a lawyer.

(n.b. this is coming from someone who is about to start studying law)

iamthemob's avatar

As a lawyer, I’d have to agree with the people who disagree with you on this one. I don’t think that there’s a “guaranteed” good in medicine as opposed to law.

You can’t really say that one is better than the other, pound for pound. I would say that the main benefit to the law degree is the length of the education program, as well as the flexibility of the degree.

marinelife's avatar

I think it depends on what one’s avocation is. If you are inclined toward medicine, you will not be happy with the law.

roundsquare's avatar

Why are you steering someone who just graduated form high school towards any profession? Let them make a choice as they go through college. At most, suggest they do pre-med if they think medicine is a possibility.

jlelandg's avatar

When it comes to who do I trust, I’d take a doctor over a lawyer 99 times out of 100 (the one being my relative who is a lawyer).

gailcalled's avatar

You’re right. “Pound for pound” isn’t a profession. How do you measure any abstraction in pounds, anyway?

iamthemob's avatar

Professions are measured in volts.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ Or jewels?

absalom's avatar

I, personally, have measured my profession with coffee spoons.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@iamthemob You can’t really say that one is better than the other, pound for pound. Pound for pound, head to head, mono y mono, or however you want to stack it up, you can. If you factor in how many man hours or hours of study it would take to go through med school to become a doctor as oppose to how many hours to get through law school and the cost of said hours you get more bang for the buck quicker in law school. While the med major is stiff farting around in post graduated school the law student is out in the field working as an associate. By the time the med student becomes a resident the law student would have smoked them and be up for partner or made it. There is a point where the layer will top out at maybe between $300 to $600 dollars and hour making a higher rate of return off their class hours than the doctor but it still beats the doctor. The doctor might eventually gain their way to a very good living, if all that school debt didn’t keep them down, but that won’t be until many years after they have left school and focused on some specialty like heart surgery, neonatal surgery, etc. Comparative school hour cost to return those hours will give back, law trumps medicine. Also for @gailcalled et al.

@roundsquare Why are you steering someone who just graduated form high school towards any profession? If suggesting is steering I will be guilty of that. People do it all the time with everything else. If suggesting to a college bound person where they are likely to get study that will be in a profession that is sure to be here and has a fine income level or flounder around in college while finding themselves chew up thousands they will be paying back later, I will seek to get them ahead of the curve. The greater tragedy would be for them to roll up a large debt get a profession that will enable them to pay it off rather quick or better yet drop out because they don’t feel they are going anywhere.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – the problem is you’re assuming success as a lawyer as well as a doctor. You haven’t really included whether it is more or less likely for one to successfully get and retain a job or clients as opposed to the other. If it is more likely that one has steady employment with increasing compensation over life than the other, that could balance the factor of school investment (in terms of time and money) of the other – or enhance it.

For instance, top firm jobs are limited. Local legal practices depend, in terms of profitability, on the type of cases that come to it. Whereas a visit to the doctor can generally be determined in terms of time beforehand by the physician, the standard legal consultation is difficult to predict in terms of hours of work it produces. Further, doctors don’t need to be paid directly by their clients, as medical insurance offsets price…and therefore people are more likely to go to doctors regularly. People have to pay for attorney consultations whenever they go, and therefore only go when they think there is a problem. Attorneys often work without pay and on contingency, in which case they will not get paid unless there is a favorable outcome…and could spend a lot of time working for nothing.

The problem with claiming that it’s better pound for pound is that there are many variables that haven’t been taken into account, and because of the variables associated with each individual case it seems that a ranking system wouldn’t be predictive in any individual case.

josie's avatar

Not to mention the fact that as an attorney, you will probably never become a pawn in Washington politics the way that doctors have.
On the other hand, when attorney’s decide to go on strike, nobody will give a shit.
When physicians finally get smart and go on strike, everybody will give a shit.

iamthemob's avatar

@josie – you do realize that, were it theoretically possible for all the attorneys to go on strike, that everyone awaiting trial would have to be released, and no one could Constitutionally be arrested on crimes that required a jury trial…

…I think people might give a shit. ;-)

wundayatta's avatar

You may be right. But it all depends on what type of lawyer and what type of physician you are talking about. Medical specialists like thoracic surgeons can make a hell of a lot of money. But the average doctor is now working for an HMO as no more than a wage earner. So many have given up the control of being a small businessman for the safety of working for a big company.

Lawyers, too, are a dime a dozen. From your bottom feeders to your associates in a firm, they are more like well compensated business folk. They work 80 hours a week, too, to get their 150 k per year, or whatever it is now. It’s the partners that make the big bucks. But they work for it, too. I do have to say they usually have nicer facilities than doctors do.

To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t want to be either one. Too much work. Makes you crazy. I have a lot of friends or acquaintances in both fields. I wouldn’t trade my life for theirs, if you threw in a cruise to the moon.

josie's avatar

@iamthemob Oh, I’m only talking about doing it for a day. That is when you would see the difference.

iamthemob's avatar

If it was just for a day, I’d wager there wouldn’t be any difference at all – the only people who would really be affected would be those who were under direct medical care at the time, or those who were in the process of criminal or civil litigation. Everyone else would be like “I’ll just see my doctor/lawyer tomorrow”

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