Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on a recent Gallup Poll which showed that even in this recession, business owners outrank ten other occupations in overall well being. The reasons aren’t surprising — they reflect the importance of freedom to choose the work you do and how you do it, say psychologists who commented on the study. Even in tough times, business owners hold an edge over other professionals because they’re in control. By contrast, corporate managers and executives wonder if they’ll be laid off.
I don’t know whether the Gallup Poll included lawyers who own their practices in the study, but the findings still apply. Take contract attorneys or law firm associates, two of the unhappiest segments of the legal profession. And it’s no wonder; they work under stressful conditions and the constant worry of whether today’s job will be around tomorrow. By contrast, lawyers who run their own practices face similar uncertainty: the possibility that their existing clients will leave or new prospects will never call. But having found clients before, most solos usually recognize that they can do it again if they need to.