I still think law is on par with medicine.
However, our decline started with the post 60s defunding of public interest positions. Up to that point, lawyers could earn a similar salary in public interest or government that they could in pvt pract. and many of these jobs were available. Combined with the explosion of tuition prices and over saturation of the market for pvt attys in the past 20 yrs, we now have an undeserved public sector and too many attys vying for the same jobs.
How so? Med school grads are basically guaranteed at least $160k 3 years post graduation (and this is worst case scenario if they do poorly in med school and can only match into family med or pediatrics or psych). Those that do average can go into IM and do a fellowship like Cards or GI and earn $300k easy. Not to mention those that do well who can go into Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, Neurosurgery, Radiology, Plastic Surgery, etc. and get $500k+. The job security is fantastic as well.
Also, unlike law, it doesn't matter where you go to school. Someone from podunk StateU can go into Orthopedics or Radiology if they do well....it's not like you have to go to Hopkins or Harvard. With law you basically have to go to a top 14 school AND do very well to only get paid what crappy med school grads get. And on top of that you have the pressure to perform well in order to advance in your career. This is not the case with med...just go through residency and don't do something extremely stupid/incompetent and then make $$$. Oh yeah and the AMA keeps a tight lock on the # of practicing physicians so there's always demand and little competition....
Sorry but med >>>> law. I only wish I realized this earlier.
You're vastly overestimating the prospects of the average medschool grad.
(1) Starting salary for many primary care physicians is closer to $95k-110k on the East Coast (it's especially bad for ped's). And they work very hard - a PCP is seeing 30+ patients / day, 5 days a week (or more).
(2) ROAD to riches specialties are very hard to place into. It's harder to place into top specialties if you don't come from a top med school. I know people who were AOA in med school who, although they placed into a good residency, had issues because they weren't at a top med school.
(3) Some of the specialties that you list as being especially good are quite brutal. Any surgical specialty requires a miserable 5-7 years of residency (plus fellowship). I can assure you that even Kozinski clerks don't have it as bad as the average surgery resident. Plus, for many surgical specialties, there are significant downsides. For example, neurosurgery is known for have very high malpractice insurance rates and bad on-call hours. Cardiac surgery is supposed to be hard to find a job in. General surgery involves brutal call hours + relatively low pay (you're making in the $200's while the anesthesiologist is making 300+).
(4) Getting a job in a specialty often isn't the easiest thing in the world. Sure, you might be a Cardiologist, but you might have limited options - underpaid at an academic medical center or well-paid in the middle of nowhere.
(5) Most physicians I know plan on paying their student loans until they retire. Their debt load tends to be heavier than law students, and they aren't really able to service the debt for a long time after graduation.
I know very few physicians who would recommend their profession to anyone who isn't 100% committed to being a physician. People are physicians because there is nothing else they'd rather be and they sacrifice decades of their life to achieve that goal. This entire medicine versus law argument is just silly because it dramatically overvalues the raw salary while dramatically undervaluing the costs.