A lot of unsuccessful lawyers - call them The Invisibles - might be feeling mighty smug today. That's because they read The New York Times article by Douglas Quenqua on happiness and the lack of it in their profession. Not that kind of focus is anything new. And not that varying states of well-being are exclusive to the legal sector.
When printed out, the feature is 4.5 pages. It details the research by Lawrence S. Krieger, a Florida State University law professor. The findings include almost a zero correlation between wealth and status and happiness and well-being among lawyers. In addition, lawyers who were in public-service jobs such as legal aid tended to be among the lawyers self-reporting being happy. So?
We all know that there are many highly successful, respected brandname lawyers who seem quite content. In addition, they are praised by diverse constituencies as also being wonderful human beings.
Among them is John Tarantino of Adler Pollock & Sheehan. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers of America, Chambers USA, Benchmark and LawDragon as one of the top attorneys in the country. When I interviewed the jury foreman after Tarantino's win for Atlantic Richfield in the Rhode Island lead paint public nuisance litigation, he exuded praise for both that lawyer's obvious passion for law and skills. Of the four lawyers I dealt with when covering that litigation, Tarantino was the only one who expressed his sympathy to me when my dog, Molly Mittens, died.
Another happy camper is Mark Herrmann, former Jones Day partner, current in-house lawyer with Aon and Abovethelaw.com weekly columnist. When I was deposed by a one-time colleague of his, that associate gushed how Herrmann was "tireless" in helping anyone on the team learn more about law. Like Tarantino, he is in love with the law. Over the past decade he has taken the time to notice my achievements and cheer me on.
Yes, of course, there are the malcontents in the legal sector. They are at all levels of earnings and rankings in prestige. But, many professions, not only law, have them. The reality is this: In law, management consulting, academia, public affairs, the C-Suite in corporate and financial services there are happy and unhappy players. Some are successful. Some are not. The latter can be unusually cruel. Hurt people hurt.