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Lawyers Rank 17th on List of Best and Worst Paying Jobs

Forbes Magazine just released the latest list that should capture the attention of rankings-obsessed lawyers -- "The Best and Worst Paying Jobs List." With an average salary of $118,280, lawyers place 17th, below most medical specialists, CEOs and airline pilots.  Still, lawyers can take heart -- not only do their earnings surpass dishwashers, bus boys and salon workers -- but they also make more than Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, who pays himself a miserly $100,000 a year.

So does a career in medicine make more sense from a financial perspective than law?  Not necessarily.  The Forbes story explores some of the reasons not to become a doctor, including anticipated cuts in Medicaid reimbursements to doctors over the coming years and the cost of malpractice insurance

In addition, tuition costs for medical school are higher than ever, with most medical students graduating with a median debt of $135,000.  And lucrative specialties like dermatology or anesthesiology (the top paying position on the Forbes list) require extra years of training, which means that most doctors won't start earning money and paying down debt until their mid-30s.  By contrast, new law grads, at least those who matriculate to Biglaw, earn six figure salaries for on-the-job training.  So why do large firm lawyers complain so much, when at least at the outset, they're doing far better than new doctors?

Even with the stress of malpractice actions and reduced insurance payments looming, it's always been my impression that doctors felt more satisfied in their careers than lawyers -- even though both law and medicine are service professions with a focus on helping others.   Do you agree that doctors more content than lawyers --  and if so why?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 16, 2008 at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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