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Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options

 
#1 Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 00:50

Aspiring Graduate

Please rank the following in terms of prestige and long-term career fulfillment/interest:

1. Lawyer in a big law firm

2. Consultant in MCIM at Accenture- assume an MBA at top school in ~ 3 years time with exit options in finance/banking, consulting, or a top industry job (i.e. Microsoft, Google, big Pharma, etc.).

3. Doctor

I have a degree in Genetics from a good university and have been accepted to a top 15 U.S. law school, to a top 15 U.S. medical school, and to Accenture MCIM in London. If I choose the business route, I will likely abandon any law or medical school intentions and pursue a top MBA in the future. This seems like the most exciting option, but the money will be far less at first. It also seems that law is boring and medicine is far too bureaucratic today. In college, I never saw myself in the "business world", but I am intrigued by the long-term possibilities, challenges, and financial benefits.

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#2 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 04:15

Newb to Aspiring Graduate (#1)

Wish I had these options, this is what I like about the US system you can hold off these choices till a later stage....Having chosen Industry/Consulting/Finance/Whatever you want to call it I the only way I could go into Medicine or Law now would be another undergraduate degree, which would require a change in high school options :)

Sorry about the life story, afraid I can't help, I'm only 19 and a little confused myslelf. But congratualtions into making it into Med and Law

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#3 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 08:49

Anon to Newb (#2)

From a Uk point of view. Doctors get paid well now and dont work as hard.

Lawyers get paid loads more but work way harder.

Consultants work hard but at the end of the day you need to generate sales to get to the top

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#4 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 09:43

a to Anon (#3)

Consulting: making money for shareholders

Law: winning money for individuals/ clients or preventing them losing money

Medicine: saving peoples' lives.

I know which I'd find more rewarding.

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#5 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 09:58

BigLawGrunt to Anon (#3)

Summary

Prestige: Doctor > Lawyer > Consultant

Pay: Lawyer > Consultant > Doctor (ish)

Hours: Doctor > Consultant > Lawyer

Interest: Consultant/Doctor > Lawyer

Fulfillment: Doctor > Consultant > Lawyer

* '>' means 'better than'

1. Corporate Law

Corporate law is a boring career filled with boring people. Most of the time, at anything less than the most senior ranks, it's little more than glorified document management. It also takes up most of YOUR time, which is why there are a lot of fat, single lawyers floating about. Either you'll hate it, or you'll learn to tolerate it by slowly becoming a more boring person.

Second tier corporate law looks even worse.

On the other hand, you might enjoy yourself if you're the kind of star who can strike out as a barrister after two or three years, or if you're massively into human rights and social justice and find one of the rare jobs in those fields.

2. Management Consulting

My MBB friends seem to enjoy their jobs more than my BigLaw friends, they have better stories to tell and they're generally more interesting to talk to. It all seems pretty exciting, really, especially when a project goes well and they actually deliver some value to a client that they like. I'm making the jump to MBB at the moment. That said, it has its downsides.

The hours are unpredictable and occasionally extreme, which can be tough on anything but the most spontaneous of social lives. It'll stay like this unless you make partner, in which case you get a bit more control. BCG and Bain both have a pretty good rep for work/life balance, especially if you cosy up to the right people. But no matter how good their intentions, the modern professional services organisation just isn't compatible with significant interests outside work.

Another downside is that if you tell someone you're a management consultant they'll expect you to try and sell them their own watch. Your mother will have a hard time explaining to her friends just what exactly it is that you're doing.

Finally, everyone seems to be having a good whinge about how their wage growth has been outclassed by every other city job ever, including the guy who makes the coffee. Not that big a deal for me.

It's a fair bit better than law, IMNSHO. I don't know how your mileage will vary at Accenture MCIM, though.

3. Medicine

Medicine looks pretty damn attractive. My friends who are doctors all seem to get a kick out of solving problems and helping people. They're decently paid, their hours are actually pretty excellent and their parents couldn't be more proud. Never let a doctor complain to you about their job.

There only two downsides that I've heard of. First, you spend most of your time hanging around sick people. Sick people are not especially high on the list of awesome folks to hang out with. Second, it can get repetitive. I've heard this second reason cited by a number of doctors who decided to move into management consulting at a fairly junior level. I think that these guys will probably have a rude shock once they've been doing their jobs for a few years. Knowledge work is about expertise, which generally involves repetition.

When I was halfway through my law degree, I came *this* close to quitting and starting a med degree instead. Couldn't afford it. A couple of my mates have gone back to do med degrees after graduating in law, and they seem pretty happy.

Good luck with your choice.

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#6 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 10:19

BigLawGrunt to BigLawGrunt (#5)

Addendum Pt 1

Top level consulting has more exit options (startup, entrepreneur, management, PE, VC), which might make it more attractive to you. It's the liberal arts degree of city jobs.

Addendum Pt 2

There are awesome and sucky jobs in each of these fields. I couldn't stand being a dermatologist, for instance, and I reckon Jonathan Sumption has a pretty good life. But then, I'm a bit of a fan of medieval history myself (see what I said about law making you into a boring person?).

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#7 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 11:53

anon to BigLawGrunt (#6)

Imagine the situation. You're in a bar/club and some long legged beauty comes over. You start talking and she says "so what do you do?" you can answer a - I'm a consultant...

b - I'm a lawyer.....

c - I'm a doctor, I save lives....

Guess which answer will get the girl.

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#8 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 11:57

Anon to anon (#7)

d - I'm a doctor, I freeze warts and write certificates for workers comp...

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#9 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 12:54

anon to anon (#7)

I can't imagine any of them having clout with a girl to be honest!

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#10 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 13:12

anon to anon (#9)

Not even "d"?

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#11 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 13:33

anon to anon (#9)

What you really want to say is that you're a credit analyst. That always gets them going.

Why won't you give me a loan?

Um... that's not what I do. etc etc.

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#12 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
11/12/2007 17:59

jj to anon (#11)

Doctor and Lawyer have strong unions to look after them. The unions are inflexible to changes in job designs; and entry is restricted to numbers that are less than the market demands. This keeps pay levels higher than anywhere else for same type of role.

Consultant is at the other extreme. There is no union. You are expected to be totally flexible in terms of location and job responsibilities. Numbers are only restricted by the market. At the end of each project there is significant lack of job security.

As a GP now you can choose to work a 4 day week, 8 hours a day and still make £80-100K. And when you fancy doing a Phd you can be paid for it.

As a consultant on £80K you would be expected to stay in hotels all week, work 12 hour days, and bring in business. And when you fancy an MBA then take out a loan.

No contest really. Still at least as a consultant I understand the economics of this. Most Doctors think they are paid a lot because they are smarter than the rest of us.....then again perhaps they are?

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#13 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
12/12/2007 13:20

Anon to jj (#12)

Dr does not have the pulling power anyomore but your parents will be proud. Law is boring but extremely well paid at the top. Consulting is just exciting!! People in consulting moan about their work but if they had been in industry for 2 years they would be bored to tears.

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#14 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
13/12/2007 23:19

Sam to anon (#11)

Id choose to be a doctor, if Id the chance to study again. You can basically do anything you want -> work, research, consulting on your own etc. And the best of all: you get well paid (after a few years you can come up to ~80K) and work 8-17 with no stress.

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#15 RE: Consulting vs. Law and Medicine and Future Options
14/12/2007 12:53

matilda to Sam (#14)

I am a doctor, and yes the intrinsic rewards are high and my parents are very proud. I work 9-6 most of the time but do have to be on-call (all night) once a week. I've chosen a specialty that I find interesting and has good work life balance. But, doctors are not fantastically well paid; after 6 years at uni and 9 years in the profession I'm on a stunning 48k with no package or bonus to speak of, and the job is certainly not stress free.

Doctors enjoy a lot of autonomy but enormous responsibility usually over things entirely out of their control. The emotional demands are huge and there's a reason there is so much alcoholism in the profession. My job requires writing reports advising on how likely someone is to reoffend or kill themselves. Fascinating stuff but very anxiety provoking in the absence of a crystal ball. So don't assume just because GPs are overpaid and self satisfied that the rest of the profession is sitting just as pretty. It's a rewarding career but it's stressful and not that well paid for the majority.

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