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Front Page - Friday, January 30, 2015

Doctors v. Lawyers: The age-old debate

Under Analysis

Have you ever noticed when people talk about wanting their kids to be successful and they give examples, the first two are usually a doctor or a lawyer? Of course, there are a million other professions that would also mean success for someone. For instance, the guy who invented the electric can opener is set for life, even though it’s the dumbest idea ever. (If you don’t have the strength to open a can with a regular can opener, then you probably don’t need another can of SpaghettiOs.)

But in all the times I’ve heard that “doctor or lawyer” aspiration, the doctor has always been before the lawyer – as if the lawyer is the second choice – a second class citizen. Granted, there aren’t nearly as many doctor jokes out there as lawyer jokes, but I like to think that’s because lawyers are just a funnier lot.

So why are doctors always the first choice and lawyers are more of a consolation prize or an “also ran?” I’m not exactly sure, although I can say from experience that successfully removing the funny bone in the Operation board game does not a doctor make. Trust me.

Because I like to answer the world’s most pressing questions, I’ve come up with a few potential reasons lawyers don’t get the main billing when it comes to parents and their hopes for their children.

NOTE: These reasons aren’t ones I necessarily agree with, so please don’t send me hate mail about them. I’m a lawyer; I already get enough hate mail.

Perhaps the parents think lawyers aren’t as smart as doctors: That can’t possibly be true because we’re a savvy bunch. too. I challenge anyone to understand the Rule Against Perpetuities. (And then explain it to me). Side note: Don’t forget about that fertile octogenarian.

Maybe people think lawyers are sore losers: Come to think of it, if anyone has ever played a board game with a lawyer, they know that losing is not an option – unless you count losing a friend over whether that transaction in Monopoly was on the up-and-up. (It wasn’t.)

Maybe it’s because some see lawyers as combative: I’ve never understood this one. I’m only combative if you take my Diet Coke. What? You don’t think I’m combative? Say that to my face.

Perhaps some people think lawyers are irritable: Personally, I find this allegation annoying. Also, see above about the Diet Coke.

Or maybe it’s because lawyers don’t have as cool of people portraying us on TV: Doctors get people like Patrick Dempsey and George Clooney to play them, and lawyers get Sam Waterston and Raymond Burr? Objection!

Then again, it could be because our clothes aren’t nearly as comfortable as scrubs: Who wants to wear a suit that cuts into your gut when you could wear pajamas all day instead?

Or maybe it’s because people can’t charge visits to their lawyer to their insurance company: We prefer plastic.

It might be because oftentimes you don’t leave your lawyer’s office feeling better: And we don’t even give you a free lollipop on the way out.

Maybe it’s because becoming a lawyer takes less schooling after those first four (or six) years of college: After all, three years of crying and yelling isn’t as prestigious as four years of poking and prodding.

Or perhaps the answer is that lawyers don’t get to use fancy tools: That is, unless you consider an overstuffed briefcase and a dozen mostly used highlighters fancy. The highlighters are different colors, which totally tips the scales in favor of fancy if you ask me.

So why is it that doctors are always listed second when it comes to potential careers? I’m not exactly sure, but one thing I do know is that the joke is on all those parents out there, because technically lawyers are doctors, so maybe it all works out in the end.

©2015 Under Analysis, LLC. Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of The Levison Group. Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a shareholder of the law firm McAnany Van Cleave and Phillips. She’s a contributing writer at NickMom, YourTango, Bustle, EliteDaily and others. She also writes a humor website, LisaNewlin.com. Contact Lisa at lhenderson@mvplaw.com or contact Under Analysis by email at comments@levisongroup.com.