Law Vs Medicine

A lawyer friend emails: Regarding my own experience, I’m a bit of a nerd, and I do not flash my money or drive an expensive car. Perhaps this is to my detriment. On the other hand, I did retire at age 50. At this age, given the choice of seven deadly sins to pursue, I pursue sloth. Had I pursued lust or avarice, I would have made different choices in life, possibly with different results.

I don’t think doctors do as well as lawyers financially unless they go into lucrative specialties such as surgery. Had I continued to practice law, I would earn more than my psychiatrist or my regular doctor. With the coming healthcare reforms, doctors will fare even worse.

As their monetary fortunes sink, I suspect their drawing power as potential mates will shrink.

Chaim Amalek emails: Maybe so amongst the middle aged, but as I recall from my youth, med students and young doctors were much sought after by the best women (ie., the genuinely beautiful smart and friendly), and proved to be more likely to marry them, have lots of kids, and otherwise seem happy than the lawyers I knew and know (who seem to be a pretty miserable lot).

Fred emails: You raise an interesting question, young Chaim. Lawyers have a high rate of depression and substance abuse. They are combative for a living. I don’t know whether law practice warps their personality and makes them divisive and combative, or whether law attracts combative divisive people. I assume it is a mixture of both.

It’s like the question: does engineering turn people into nerds, or do nerds gravitate to engineering.

However, the legal profession surpassed the medical profession in terms of financial reward long ago. I assume that money is the main draw for college age females, and that female money radar is finely tuned to detect the future presence of lucre, and that is the main draw. As for whether the attraction of money overshadows other things I’m not so sure.

At least in California, many doctors are part of clock-watching, bean-counting organizations that carefully time how long a doctor spends with a patient, and constantly tries to make him/her see more patients per hour. Being a general practitioner is almost like being a factory worker. Doctor salaries have been kept down.

In the legal profession, the counterpart financial pressure is to increase billing quotas. However, unlike the medical profession, supply and demand (or some other economic force) has pushed legal compensation through the roof (although the recession has put the brakes on that trend, and may have even reversed it slightly).

I fear I am too old to know what college age females chase nowadays. I will let you know, however, if they begin to pursue burnt-out ex-lawyers who would be going through a mid-life crisis if they weren’t so cheap and lazy.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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