Doctor Vs. Lawyer (With Definitions, Duties And Tips)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Doctors and lawyers are highly skilled professionals with strong educational backgrounds and qualifications. Both professions share a number of skills, but they also differ significantly in their roles. Understanding their duties, work environment, educational qualifications and average salaries can help you choose between a career in medicine or law. In this article, we discuss the differences between a doctor vs. lawyer, outline their roles and responsibilities, explore the career paths and find out their average salaries.

Doctor vs. lawyer

You can learn more about the key differences between a doctor vs. lawyer and determine if you want to pursue a job in this field by understanding their duties and educational qualifications. A doctor interacts with patients to understand their symptoms, performs lab tests, provides treatment plans and conducts regular check-ups to ensure their steady recovery. In contrast to this, a lawyer works in the legal field and performs duties such as representing the client in court, conducting investigations and presenting them to the judge, preparing legal documents and counselling clients on their rights.

Related: How To Become A Corporate Lawyer: A Complete Guide

What does a doctor do?

Doctors are health care professionals who interact with patients, study their symptoms, diagnose diseases and provide treatment to improve their physical and mental well-being. There are several types of doctors based on what they choose to specialise in, such as cardiologists, general practitioners, paediatricians, dentists and oncologists. Here are some of their roles and responsibilities:

  • interacting with the patient to understand their symptoms and performing diagnosis

  • prescribing medication and administering treatment based on the diagnosis

  • maintaining medical records which contain detailed information on the patient, their illness, results of lab tests and treatment plan

  • performing surgeries based on their specialisation

  • communicating with the patient and their families to provide regular updates on their health

  • collaborating with other health care professionals to get their recommendations and providing quality care to the patient

  • researching and staying updated on the recent developments in the medical domain

  • educating people on personal hygiene, vaccinations and various health policies

  • evaluating new drugs manufactured by pharma companies and providing detailed reports to the committee

These professionals play an important role in ensuring an individual's health and wellness.

Related: How To Become A Doctor (With 6 Steps You Can Follow)

What does a lawyer do?

Lawyers are skilled professionals in the legal industry who represent their clients in court and provide legal advice. They may attend court hearings, advise clients on legal matters, prepare legal documents and make policy recommendations. Career paths in law include the judiciary, civil law, family and matrimonial law, criminal law, litigation, paralegal and corporate law. Here are some of their roles and responsibilities:

  • communicating with clients to understand the details of the case and providing legal advice

  • assisting clients in civil and criminal court cases and presenting arguments on their behalf

  • getting legal advice from colleagues, experts and teams

  • preparing legal documents for clients such as wills, business contracts, loan agreements and partnership agreements

  • organising the client's information, investigation details, interviews and other pertinent information in a client record

  • maintaining familiarity with various legal policies, regulations and practices

  • providing legal advice to senior management of corporate companies

  • handling tax records, working on environmental issues, providing legal assistance to family members and counselling organisations with issues related to patents, intellectual property and trademarks based on their specialities

These professionals ensure that individuals understand and uphold their legal rights.

Related: Attorney Vs Lawyer: Definition And Fundamental Differences

Differences between doctors and lawyers

You may want to consider medicine or law if you want to work in a high-paced, challenging environment. Below are some areas in which the two fields differ:


Medical doctors usually require five to eight years of education, which includes five years for Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and three years for Doctor of Medicine (MD). The pre-clinical phase of MBBS comprises basic subjects such as anatomy, biochemistry and physiology. The para-clinical phase focuses on advanced topics, such as forensic medicine and pathology. MBBS concludes with practical subjects, including surgery and paediatrics. If you want to be a super-specialist, you can consider the postdoctoral course, which takes another three years.

Lawyers usually require three to five years of education. You can either pursue an integrated five-year Bachelor of Legislative Law (LLB) degree or a three-year LLB degree after your graduation from 10+2. A three-year LLB course may contain subjects such as family law, criminal law and labour law in the first year. The second-year consists of subjects such as administrative law and human rights law. The final year includes topics like company law and environmental law. If you want to pursue your education further in law, you can also consider pursuing the Master of Law (LLM) course.

Work environment

A doctor's job usually requires acute attention to detail, good communication skills, time management abilities and compassion. These professionals work both in clinical and non-clinical environments. Medical settings include offices and hospitals, whereas non-clinical settings include government offices, nonprofit organisations and financial institutions. Many doctors work long hours and hospitals may expect them to be available for emergency situations after their office hours. In clinical settings, they wear protective clothing like gloves, masks and goggles to guard against contamination and hazardous materials.

Most lawyers work in different office environments, such as law offices, government offices and courts, though some may require travelling to meet with clients or attend conferences. Lawyers for corporations and businesses may spend more time in meeting rooms and travelling to various locations. Preparing for court cases often requires lawyers to work long hours. Lawyers in private practice can plan their own schedule, while lawyers at law firms may work overtime to prepare for court appearances or to draft legal documents.


The duties of a doctor may vary based on their specialisation. For instance, a paediatrician conducts thorough examinations on young children or newborns to record their health and normal physical development. Whereas, a surgeon is responsible for examining patients and diagnosing diseases, performing surgeries and supervising the surgical team. Emergency health care workers may require providing immediate care to patients by performing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), providing oxygen and treating immediate injuries. Because of the nature of the job, doctors may work under stressful conditions to provide the necessary care and support to the patients.

Depending on their area of specialisation and their clients, lawyers have different duties. For example, a criminal lawyer defends a client facing criminal charges, which requires conducting thorough investigations, interviewing witnesses and building a strong defence. In contrast, a corporate lawyer ensures that the company's activities and transactions comply with corporate law. In addition, they negotiate deals, draft contracts and provide protection against legal risks.


The national average salary of a doctor is ₹5,56,787 per year. In the medical field, their salaries vary based on their qualifications and area of specialisation. The national average salary of a lawyer is ₹2,98,518 per year. Their salaries may vary based on their areas of expertise, such as corporate law, criminal defence or public defender. These salaries can also depend on several factors, such as the employer, location, educational qualifications, experience and skills.

Related: Average Doctor Salaries: A Complete Guide By Specialty

Tips for choosing a profession

These are some tips for choosing between the legal and medical fields:

  • Define your ideal workplace. The working conditions for doctors and lawyers differ widely. You can consider factors such as work environment, work hours, work-life balance and perks before making a decision.

  • Make a list of your hobbies and interests. List your interests to determine what field may interest you. For example, if you are interested in understanding how to prevent and treat diseases, pursuing a career in medicine may be rewarding.

  • Estimate the expense of each pursuing each profession. Before deciding on a career path, prepare an estimate of the total cost you may incur, which includes university fees, study material, living expenses and other expenditures. You can do this by reviewing the college prospectus and the prescribed study material.

  • Take up courses. Attend courses and seminars related to your area of interest. For instance, you can take biology or life sciences to gain insight into the medical field and civics or history to learn about the law.

  • Network with professionals. You can find it helpful to speak with professionals in each of these fields to understand their work experience, current opportunities and the future scope along with career paths. This can guide your decision-making process.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, background and location.

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