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.

This month, attorney Clint Bolick was selected as a new Arizona Supreme Court Justice by Gov. Doug Ducey.

This month, attorney Clint Bolick was selected as a new Arizona Supreme Court Justice by Gov. Doug Ducey.

It cannot be easy to select a new state supreme court justice. So much is involved in the job that a panel must weigh a broad array of talents and experiences. And at the end of the day, the old adage applies: You can’t please everybody.

Clint Bolick is a longtime litigator for the Goldwater Institute and an occasional columnist for Arizona Attorney Magazine. (Read a few of his pieces where he discussed courts, judges, and legal services here, here, and here. And he discusses a book on immigration reform he coauthored with Jeb Bush here.) And now he can add Arizona Supreme Court Justice to his roster of accomplishments (though I’m sure columnist will always be his favorite achievement!)

You can read news stories about his appointment by Gov. Doug Ducey here, here, and here.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThose also up for the job had ample experience as appellate judges, which the new Justice lacked. That, plus his previous advocacy litigation, meant that his selection was not met with unanimous positive reviews. (for a negative take, here is E.J. Montini’s column in the Arizona Republic.)

Whatever your view of his appointment, I was pleased to watch Clint Bolick’s interview as he sat before the appointments panel (and I urge you to watch it here). Sitting in the hot seat, Clint did extremely well. He did not appear there as a man who lacks the skill and experience for the job. Nor did he overcompensate by appearing prideful about his litigation record. Instead, he was—and is—soft-spoken and self-effacing. And that has been my experience of him as a colleague and writer.

If there is an entry for “disarming interview” in the dictionary, he would occupy the spot.

Of course, none of that means you will necessarily be pleased (or disappointed) in his subsequent opinions. His judicial record will now roll out over a course of years. Until then, I congratulate Justice Bolick and wish him the best.

Arizona Attorney Magazine, November 2015It’s already December, so I’ll be playing catch-up here as I point out a few items in the November issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine that I’m particularly pleased with—and that I hope you didn’t miss.

Today, I wanted to mention those great lawyers who stepped up to be a part of our feature story on wellness and yoga. As the story headed into production, I was still hearing from other lawyers who had heard about it and wanted to participate. Clearly, there is enough interest to cover this again in the future.

Thank you to attorneys Alisa Gray, Trisha Lotzer, and Stanley Bronstein. We appreciate your help in getting Arizona lawyers to bend or walk their way toward a healthier future.

You can read the complete article here.

the-future 2 road sign editorial calendar story ideasAs we head toward the end of August, I confront my annual challenge of writing an editorial calendar, this time for the magazine’s 2016.

Let’s get together, shall we?

As always, I benefit greatly from the insights of readers, who offer me ideas for content. Those ideas typically arise from:

  • 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)

I’ve heard all such ideas, and following that, we really do strive to address those issues in the coming year.

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 2015 calendar here.)

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

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