Almost everyone who works for a living has a boss. Although I am the boss at my workplace, I have many, many bosses, the attorneys, insurance adjusters, and corporate representatives who hire my company and me to help them with their challenging litigation. Often, I must adjust my plans and work schedule to suit one or more of these bosses, just as my employees must adjust their behavior to accommodate my requests. Interestingly, many of the people who have worked for my spouse/business partner and me have been unable to understand that, although we own our business, we cannot do whatever we want, due to the fact that we must answer to many other people. It is certainly true that I am allowed more flexibility than someone who works for a regular paycheck, but I have never had the luxury of going to the beach or doing something else I enjoy during a time I should have been working. 100% of my income, my spouse/business partner’s income, and the revenue of company we co-own is earned from doing excellent work that has been paid for by our bosses, the clients who retain us for our jury, trial, and litigation research and consulting services. At any given time, I may be working for as many as 50 bosses! (And my employees think they have it tough when working only for my spouse/business partner and me!)
“Be your own boss.” That’s the supposed appeal of owning a business. But, it is a very flawed observation about owning/operating a business. Whether the business is small or large, the customers, or clients in a service business, are the bosses. And in a service business, more than a product based business, the owner(s) must interact directly, and take direction from, the clients. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier with just 1 boss to please than to be one’s own boss. But, that is the comparison point that employees who are not entrepreneurially oriented frequently miss. With many bosses come many different expectations. We work with many different types of lawyers, including plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers, insurance defense lawyers, commercial lawyers, employment lawyers, and some criminal defense lawyers. All of our clients have different perspectives and personalities. (These observations are supported in part by research we conducted comparing lawyers and jurors – and then further analyses on lawyer types. The resulting article, “Lawyers & Jurors: Do they have anything in common?” is available upon request.) And, in addition to lawyers, we often interact with their (our mutual) clients including insurance adjusters and in-house lawyers, including general counsels. And, they all have different needs, that is, they need different services from us. In addition, they have different time schedules. For example, recently we had 5 jury selection consultations scheduled. Some were date certain, some were on multi week dockets; scheduling is a particularly difficult part of our work. But, we covered the schedule as best we could, alerting the clients, our bosses, of our scheduling challenges. However, as is often the case, one by one, the cases were resolved through settlement or, in at least 1 case, by being dismissed by the judge. This left us with no consultations instead of 5. And all of us, staff included, were then wondering what to do with our “free” time. So, contrary to being one’s own boss and deciding what to do, we answer to many people and are pulled in different directions while constantly juggling competing demands. We provide insulation to the employees who work for us but we can attest to the fact that, with many bosses/clients, one must stay on top of things minute by minute!