Why are cancer doctors revered and divorce lawyers distrusted?

A recent Gallup Poll from December 5-8, 2013 provides some interesting data regarding lawyers and doctors.

When the a sample of participants were polled, sixty-nine percent (69%) of participants indicated that they rated doctors highly for honesty and ethical standards.

At the same time, when participants were asked about lawyers, only twenty percent (20%) of participants rated lawyers highly on the same scale.

Why is that?  Why is it that doctors, who help people through unfortunate times, are revered, yet lawyers are frowned upon when they similarly help people through unfortunate times?

Obviously, people can have various different takes on this topic. Certainly, some people out there might have had bad experiences with legal matters that blur their overall take on the legal process and lawyers as a whole.

But one question that is worth pondering is this: When dealing with divorce lawyers specifically, a common reaction that most people have goes something like this: "Don't you feel awful that you support yourself and your family on the misfortunate of others?"

There is no question that the question is a good question in a lot of ways. Divorce and family lawyers certainly make their living by helping people during hard times.

However, isn't a doctor who helps cancer patients (or other sick and/or terminal patients), which are known as Oncologists, in the exact same position?  In other words, why don't people ask doctors the same question: "Don't you feel awful that you support yourself and your family on the misfortunate of others?"

Of course, nobody asks cancer doctors a question like this, nor should they.  Doctors are trying to save lives.  Or, they are trying to make the suffering of their patients less severe.  And they are simply trying to guide them through the difficulties of sickness.  There is just no question that doctors should be commended for what they do.  It's a hard job and a vital job in this society.  Nobody blames a doctor for sickness.

However, while divorce and family lawyers are certainly not revered by polling data, those enduring divorce might step back and ask themselves why the same rationale isn't applied to divorce and family lawyers.

Good family lawyers are simply doing the same thing as a cancer doctor.  They are trying to figuratively save lives by ensuring that family drama and chaos is kept to a minimum.  They are trying to make the suffering of their clients less painful.  They are trying to guide their clients through the hardships of the divorce and court process.  And they are trying to ensure that justice and fairness endures in the court system.

So, in saying that, shouldn't divorce lawyers receive the same accolades as cancer doctors for what they do?  Are divorce lawyers any more to blame for the divorce rates than cancer doctors to blame for the cancer rates?  Do divorce lawyers really cause the marital dysfunction that leads to divorce?  Aren't divorce lawyers and cancer doctors both simply trying to help people through a rough time that they didn't cause?

These are questions that are worth asking.

Source: Gallup Poll, "Honesty/Ethics in Professions," December 5-8, 2013.