Kate Mills Reporter

Kate monitors the social and economic dynamics that drive business. She has been a financial and business journalist for 17 years in Australia and the United Kingdom, working on publications including CFO, ALB (Australian and Asian editions), Investor Weekly and Legal Business in the UK.

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Truth or fiction - what the professions really do

Published 14 March 2012 12:00, Updated 15 March 2012 05:02

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LAWYERS – the stereotype: Incredibly bright, charge high fees and work very long hours. Probably the most glamorous profession, with an environment made for drama in the shape of the courtroom. From Perry Mason to Harry Hamlin (LA Law) through to Denny Crane (Boston Legal), lawyers always get the best parts on screen.

LAWYERS – the reality: Incredibly bright, charge high fees and work very long hours. Lawyers will say that while some parts of their work live up to the reputation, there’s little glamour in a 12-hour day. Junior lawyers at global law firms find life is more like being Jennifer Lopez in Maid in Manhattan than being at Boston Legal’s Crane, Poole & Schmidt. While lawyers are among the smartest in the room, they are often accused of not seeing the wood for the trees, which is why accountants have been taking work off them.

ACCOUNTANTS – the stereotype:Nerdy bean counters. There’s very little that’s glamorous about the profession. There are few well-known accountants and the profession has always been jealous of how lawyers get lead roles on TV shows while accountants get parts such as Norm in Cheers or Chandler in Friends. When people think of accountants, they normally think about baddies such as Enron chief financial officer Andrew Fastow and his part in its downfall.

ACCOUNTANTS – the reality: An incredibly diverse group and probably the most commercial of all the professions, deserving much praise. Accountants have been the tortoise in the professional services sector. The new look is led by “celebrity” Sydney accountant Anthony Bell who is one of the wealthiest men in Australia. He is married to TV presenter Kelly Landry and won the Sydney-to-Hobart race last year.

ENGINEERS – the stereotype:Brilliant but socially awkward. Engineers get a bad wrap from university days of getting over-excited about gadgets or technology in the bar while everyone else is socialising. They don’t have their own TV shows, apart from documentaries about building large bridges or towers.

ENGINEERS – the reality: Brilliant and overlooked. But the rise of Asia and the mining boom means the profession is taking off. One reason engineering firms are finding it so hard to recruit engineers is because mining companies want them so badly. Once inside, engineers start to climb the corporate ladder and probably will do the best out of the boom.

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