David French reaches out to readers on the difficult topic of succession planning in the October 2016 issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

David French reaches out to readers on the difficult topic of succession planning in the October 2016 issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

If you know of a more moving and compelling way to write about business succession planning than the way David French did recently, please let me know. I don’t think a more moving recitation exists.

Before October leaves us, I urge you to read—if you haven’t already—David’s piece in the October Arizona Attorney Magazine. That is where he describes steps professionals should take to safeguard their firm, protect their clients, follow the Ethical Rules, and maybe even burnish their legacy. Happily, David takes a personal rather than a stiff approach to the topic.

David French

David French

(In a previous issue, I also covered a David French-moderated roundtable, here.)

Once you’ve read David’s story about his own dad, read about the national picture, in which a rising tide of many retirees is causing challenges for law firms.

Finally, it’s been out for a while now, but I’ve appreciated a documentary called “Period. New Paragraph.” In it, as the American Bar Association says, filmmaker “Sarah Kramer documents the experience of her father, Herbert Kramer, as he closes his law practice after 60 years.” Here is an excerpt.

You can buy the documentary here. Again from the ABA: “The film is accompanied by a discussion guide for bar associations or law firms that intend to use the film to explore the topic of lawyers’ transition into retirement.”

Law firms under cyberattack is one of the topics we cover in the October Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Law firms under cyberattack is one of the topics we cover in the October Arizona Attorney Magazine.

How safe is your data? And the data held by you in care of your clients?

In the October issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, Andres Hernandez asks that question. The evidence regarding law firms suggests the answer may be a distressful “Not very.”

The article explores some in-the-news law firm hacks we’ve read about. He then offers some suggestions to keep your own data safe.

The opening page of Andres Hernandez' article on cyberattacks, Oct. 2016.

The opening page of Andres Hernandez’ article on cyberattacks, Oct. 2016.

Meantime, just today I came across the Arizona Republic headline “Banner Health’s summer data hack triggers 10 civil lawsuits.”

The lawsuit you avoid could be your own.

If you have your own story of law-firm success in crafting ways to protect data in the digital age, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

banner-health-cyber-attacks-lead-to-10-civil-lawsuits.jpg

Banner Health cyberattacks lead to 10 civil lawsuits

Finis: Our icon for the My Last Word column in Arizona Attorney Magazine

Finis: Our icon for the My Last Word column

On this last day of August, I pause to praise a piece of writing in our July/August issue—and to praise the column it inhabits.

Longtime readers of Arizona Attorney Magazine will know that the name of our occasional back-page column is “The Last Word”—so named when we have one of our three primary columnists writing.

But we also invite any attorney—or non-attorney—to write a single column when the mood strikes them. On those months, we call the column “My Last Word.” And it has become one of my favorite places in the magazine.

I think I enjoy the surprise and discovery, as multiple people inevitably have inevitable viewpoints.

In that space, we have had people write on all sorts of things. And this month, attorney Gary Fry muses on—the act of musing. He wonders—as we should—whether we take enough time to do exactly that. Or are we too caught up in the minutiae of daily life to pause and reflect.

You can read his essay here. And if you want, you then can start at the other end of the issue; here’s the first page. Enjoy.

Gary also reminds me how much I enjoy the incredible photography of Jeff Wall. Here is a story about him and his process.

One piece of his I enjoy very much is called “Picture for Women,” which takes the dialogue about “the male gaze” in a decidedly modern direction. Here it is:

Picture for Women, by Jeff Wall (via Wikimedia Commons)

Picture for Women, by Jeff Wall (via Wikimedia Commons)

Here is a description of the work, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Picture for Women is a 142.5 × 204.5 cm cibachrome transparency mounted on a lightbox. Along with The Destroyed Room, Wall considers Picture for Women to be his first success in challenging photographic tradition. According to Tate Modern, this success allows Wall to reference “both popular culture (the illuminated signs of cinema and advertising hoardings) and the sense of scale he admires in classical painting. As three-dimensional objects, the lightboxes take on a sculptural presence, impacting on the viewer’s physical sense of orientation in relationship to the work.”

There are two figures in the scene, Wall himself, and a woman looking into the camera. In a profile of Wall in the The New Republic, art critic Jed Perl describes Picture for Women as Wall’s signature piece, “since it doubles as a portrait of the late-twentieth-century artist in his studio.” Art historian David Campany calls Picture for Women an important early work for Wall as it establishes central themes and motifs found in much of his later work.

A response to Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère, the Tate Modern wall text for Picture of Women, from the 2005–2006 exhibition Jeff Wall Photographs 1978–2004, outlines the influence of Manet’s painting:

“In Manet’s painting, a barmaid gazes out of frame, observed by a shadowy male figure. The whole scene appears to be reflected in the mirror behind the bar, creating a complex web of viewpoints. Wall borrows the internal structure of the painting, and motifs such as the light bulbs that give it spatial depth. The figures are similarly reflected in a mirror, and the woman has the absorbed gaze and posture of Manet’s barmaid, while the man is the artist himself. Though issues of the male gaze, particularly the power relationship between male artist and female model, and the viewer’s role as onlooker, are implicit in Manet’s painting, Wall updates the theme by positioning the camera at the centre of the work, so that it captures the act of making the image (the scene reflected in the mirror) and, at the same time, looks straight out at us.”

Interesting, right? And because it’s fun to compare, here is Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère:

Un bar aux Folies Bergère, by Edouard Manet (via Wikimedia Commons)

Un bar aux Folies Bergère, by Edouard Manet (via Wikimedia Commons)

If you or someone you know is interested in writing a 700-word column for the magazine, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. It doesn’t have to be on law, exactly, though it should resonate with attorneys—their careers or their wider lives.

Story ideas welcome, everything from the Theory of Relativity to more mundane thoughts. ideas e = mc

Story ideas welcome, everything from the Theory of Relativity to more mundane thoughts.

I will not insult you with that old chestnut, “There are no bad ideas.” All you need to do is watch a presidential campaign to undermine that tall tale.

But as I work on the 2017 Editorial Calendar—our story roadmap—I do want to stress that there are very few truly bad ideas.

Feel better? Did I lawyer that enough for you?

I’d really like to hear from you—readers or not—about what we should cover in this crazy, mixed-up legal profession. Not sure what I mean? How about:

  • New things happening in law practice
  • New niche practices that are growing
  • Crazy-important topics that legal publications have failed to cover in sufficient detail (or at all)

If you need more direction:

Close your eyes. Imagine a box. And picture the oddest, most novel thing, which is so impressive it cannot even fit in that box.

Soothing, right?

So consider this an open invitation for your ideas, of all kinds. They are welcome anytime, but contacting me in the next few weeks would help ensure those ideas get into our formal editorial calendar. (Curious? You can see our current 2016 calendar here.)

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

the-future 2 road sign editorial calendar story ideas

"The Jury" (1861) by John Morgan: Persuading a jury is one important quality of an expert witness. What else do you value?

“The Jury” (1861) by John Morgan: Persuading a jury is one important quality of an expert witness. What else do you value?

I know, as I write this, we are in late April, but I must say a few words about the amazing accomplishment of our magazine staff in creating what, by multiple measures, was a historic March issue of Arizona Attorney.

(Click the images above to see the full covers.)

What made the issue remarkable?

  1. It was a double issue, and you can see both issues here and here. That’s right, with no additional staff and little extra time, we created an entirely separate Expert Witness Supplement.
  2. It had stellar content. The supplement was not only filled with useful resources in the ad portions—display ads and listings of helpful resources. It also had a large number of relevant and well-written articles covering the wide range of expert-witness topics. I owe a huge debt to those authors who stepped up to serve readers.
  3. Our “main” issue did not take a back seat to the scene-stealing Supplement. That issue offered its own law practice-friendly articles, on faulty credit reports and insurance-defense, among others.
  4. Both issues were captured within what I think were award-winning designs. The March issue, for my money, is one of our most eye-catching ever. (A friend from Illinois wrote to say, “WOW! How could you not open that one?”) And the Supplement required a vast rethinking that would allow us to communicate which of the content were the articles at a glance, and to do so in a way that would not break our backs through work—as we had six feature articles to address. Kudos to our Art Director Karen Holub.
  5. The issues were incredibly helpful to readers, advertising-wise. I am a big fan of advertising, which I think can serve readers well (and not just by keeping us profitable!). The ads, especially in the supplement, were targeted to lawyers seeking guidance on expert-witness issues. Kudos to my advertising colleagues Lisa Bormaster and Mikyeila Cordero.
  6. The two issues were produced flawlessly. An incredible amount of research and coordination went into ensuring our costs were in line; our postal regulations were followed; and our product arrived in readers’ mailboxes in a safe and attractive way. Ultimately, we opted for a clear polybag that displayed both of our outward-facing covers. That allowed us to “box above our weight class” and to do so in a cost-effective way. Kudos to our Production Manager Michael Peel.

We are well into April, but I still marvel at our March accomplishment.

I know; you’re eager to see the polybag version. Here it is:

Yes, we plan to issue a double issue next March, as well. If you would like to have your expert-focused article featured in that remarkable magazine, contact me now at arizona.attorney@azbar.org; I’m already developing ideas!

Meantime, I also share with you an interesting article on mistakes lawyers make when procuring expert witnesses.

And, given the topic of my Editor’s Letter in that Supplement, I suggest you read about the Tootsie Pop, which includes scientific studies to address the very question I posed!

The opening to my Editor's Letter in our March 2016 "Expert Witness Special Issue." Tootsie Pops and an owl in a mortarboard get me every time.

The opening to my Editor’s Letter in our March 2016 “Expert Witness Special Issue.” Tootsie Pops and an owl in a mortarboard get me every time.

"The Jury" (1861) by John Morgan: Persuading a jury is one important quality of an expert witness. What else do you value?

“The Jury” (1861) by John Morgan: Persuading a jury is one important quality of an expert witness. What else do you value?

We’re working hard on our March issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, which largely will focus on expert witnesses. So important and relevant is the topic, in fact, that we are building an entire separate magazine to hold the content. In a historic move for us, that special issue and our regular March issue will by “polybagged” together and mailed to readers. I think you’re going to like it!

But all of this focus makes me wonder about your own experience with expert witnesses. So please (please!) send me a quick note that answers any or all of the following questions:

  • The one great thing an expert witness can do to ensure their value to you and your case.
  • The one sucky thing an expert witness can do that is guaranteed to send you into paroxysms of anger.
  • The one thing you would advise fellow lawyers to do better that would assist the lawyer–expert relationship. (After all, you’ve got to admit that the problem may be on the lawyer end of the equation!)

Your quick comments and/or anecdotes (without naming names, I’m assuming) are welcome in the comments section or via email to me: arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’d appreciate hearing any insight you can share.

The witness box is only one place an expert can demonstrate show his or her value.

The witness box is only one place an expert can demonstrate show his or her value.

big data word cloud

Big and small intersected in a great way this month, in the cover story for Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Our topic is big data (or Big Data, if that’s how you roll). We’ve grown accustomed to hearing about the power of large-scale data to alter the modern experience—for example, just think of how many results you get when you Google … anything, really. The vast amounts of digital information available to us have transformed our lives. (Plus, technology’s only just getting warmed up.)

Dr. Melissa Kovacs of FirstEval

Dr. Melissa Kovacs

But we wondered how Big Data affects lawyers and their cases. And that’s where the talented Melissa Kovacs comes in.

Dr. Kovacs described a few practice areas that could benefit greatly from a wise use of large datasets. In her essay, she also describes how this data can be illustrated in highly visual ways; that will be a benefit to lawyers, juries, other fact-finders—and to lawyers themselves, who may be numbers-averse (guilty as charged). Her whole story is here.

But I mentioned big and small; what’s up with that?

Put simply, Melissa’s article is concise—blissfully so. It cuts to the chase and does not inundate readers with too much information. But can we have such shorter stories for the cover feature? Sure. Why not?

It’s not uncommon for magazines to reserve the cover for only their longest, weightiest pieces. And sometimes that makes sense.

But Melissa’s piece is timely, relevant, and well written. And I love the fact that our cover image of a tsunami of information is wedded to an article that can be consumed easily. It’s a tranquil pond illustrated by a tidal wave.

Arizona Attorney Magazine, January_2016 cover

Come on in; the water’s fine. Read the whole thing here. And read more about her firm FirstEval here (be sure to read her blog posts; they’re good, and not just good for a data scientist, but truly good!).

Opening spread for our data story by Melissa Kovacs, Arizona Attorney, January 2016.

Opening spread for our data story by Melissa Kovacs, Arizona Attorney, January 2016.