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Lawyer vs. Psychologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in law or psychology can be both personally and professionally rewarding. If you’re interested in working in one of these fields, it’s important to understand the key differences between them. Lawyers and psychologists both help people, but they do so in different ways. In this article, we compare and contrast these two professions, and we offer advice on choosing the right path for you.

What is a Lawyer?

Lawyers represent clients in both criminal and civil legal cases. They research and analyze legal problems, draft documents such as contracts, pleadings and motions, and advise clients on legal matters. Lawyers may represent clients in court or act as advisors to clients on legal matters. Many lawyers are also involved in community work, such as volunteering for pro bono work, legal clinics or public interest organizations. Lawyers may also be involved in politics, teaching, writing or public speaking.

What is a Psychologist?

Psychologists are trained mental health professionals who diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They use a variety of techniques, including individual and group therapy, to help patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. Psychologists typically have a doctoral degree in psychology, although some may have a master’s degree. They must also complete a supervised clinical internship as part of their training. Psychologists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, schools and businesses.

Lawyer vs. Psychologist

Here are the main differences between a lawyer and a psychologist.

Job Duties

Lawyers and psychologists have some duties that are similar, such as advising clients on legal or psychological matters. However, their primary duties differ because lawyers work within the court system while psychologists typically provide treatment and counseling services outside of the courtroom. For example, a lawyer might advise a client on how to draft a contract or help them prepare for a deposition. A psychologist might assess a client’s mental health or treat them through therapy.

Another key difference between the two professions is that psychologists have more interaction with patients than lawyers do with clients. While some lawyers meet with their clients regularly, others may only communicate with them by phone or email. Psychologists typically must see their clients at least once a week and spend more time with them during appointments.

Job Requirements

Lawyers must complete a four-year undergraduate degree and then attend law school for three years. To practice law in the United States, lawyers must pass their state’s bar exam. Some states require lawyers to take an ethics exam as well.

Psychologists typically need a doctorate degree in psychology, which takes about five to seven years to complete. However, some entry-level positions may only require a master’s degree. Psychologists who want to work in clinical or counseling settings must also complete an internship and earn a license from their state.

Work Environment

Lawyers and psychologists work in different environments. Lawyers typically work in an office setting, where they can focus on research and writing briefs for their cases. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend court hearings.

Psychologists usually work in a clinical environment, such as a hospital or mental health facility. They often spend time meeting with patients one-on-one or in groups to help them address their issues. Psychologists may also conduct research studies to learn more about human behavior.


There are several similarities between lawyers and psychologists in terms of the specific skills they use on the job. Both professions require excellent communication skills, as they need to be able to effectively communicate with clients, colleagues and others. They also both need strong research and analytical skills to be able to find relevant information and make sound arguments.

However, there are also some key differences in the specific skills used by lawyers and psychologists. Lawyers need to have strong argumentation and debating skills to be able to persuasively argue their cases in court. Psychologists, on the other hand, need to have empathy and active listening skills to be able to understand their patients’ experiences and provide them with helpful treatment.


The average salary for a lawyer is $94,905 per year, while the average salary for a psychologist is $97,727 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of work you do, your location and your level of experience.


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