Picture this.

No, I mean it: Picture this blog, not filled with streams of annoying words, but instead illustrating its main points in visual ways.

If you think you’re down with that, then we’re on the same page.

Understand, I’m all about the words. But I’ve been hankering for the past year for more pics and fewer verbal tics. And I have found infographics a terrific tool (maybe I just need a new reading prescription). And in Arizona Attorney Magazine, I’m trying to see where we can use infographics to good effect.

What is an infographic? You may have viewed them and not been familiar with the label. Here’s an example from the highly accomplished Bar Association of San Francisco:

Bar Association of San Francisco infographic

Cool, right?

And here is another shared by Association Media & Publishing:

infographic AMP Association Media and Publishing

Recently, I’ve engaged in a dialogue with a great member of the magazine’s Editorial Board. She too is intrigued by the possible legal uses of infographics. Because she’s efficient, though, she didn’t just muse on it. Instead, Ashley Kasarjian created one, and she’s on her way to creating others.

You may know Ashley as the author of the nationally recognized Employment and the Law Blog. And in her day job (oh, that), she’s an attorney at Snell & Wilmer.

Now, because we blog writers love us a little web-traffic, I’m not going to reprint Ashley’s whole infographic here. For that, you have to travel over here and give her a little SEO love. But here is a snippet of what she’s up to:

Ashley Kasarjian infographic

A portion of an infographic by Ashley Kasarjian

As you can surmise, she’s cooked up a Venn diagram of sorts (and who doesn’t love a Venn diagram?). So surf over to see the whole thing.

I happen to know that Ashley’s subsequent efforts are aimed at including even fewer words. Be still my heart!

(In fact, I will let you in on a little secret: Ashley has thrown down the gauntlet and suggested an infographic battle. I’ve accepted, naturally, but I may be in trouble, given that she’s already jumped in while I still simply ruminate. On the other hand, I’ve warned her that I am willing to include the ever-popular puppies and kittens; as a distinguished Snell attorney, she’s out of luck on that score! #winning)

But you may be unconvinced that such an accessible, concise and comprehensible tool has any place in the practice of law. Therefore, I urge you to set aside your reading of Bleak House and your admiration of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, while I share with you some reasons for you to embrace the brave new visual world.

So: Here are 5 reasons I learned to stop worrying and love the infographic:

1. Clients may love them, and they make your content more valuable to them.

Your background and experience likely mean that you have valuable content to share. And if you have a website (you do have a website, don’t you?), it may be brimming with content out the wazoo. But let’s be real; your mom may be reading it, but other people have higher standards. Why don’t you take some suggestions to make that content sing?

2. Your partners insist on depth, but they don’t read to the end of your memos either.

I am aware of the requirements of law practice; that 17-page brief on whether gravel should be regulated as a building material or a mineral had to be written. But your audience (even your partners) are yearning for the executive summary. What if that brief one-pager were fronted by an infographic setting out the rocky principles? Sure, you might get fired. But you’re a trailblazer.

Read here why simple = powerful, and why “Psychological research on cognitive fluency shows why easy to understand = more profitable, more pleasurable, more intelligent and safer.”

3. We’re all (even attorneys) visual thinkers.

That’s right, even you, with your Juris Doctorate, are likely a visual thinker. There may be some folks who think almost entirely in words, but scientists say they comprise only 25 percent of the population. (Cue the jokes to determine what practice area they’re in.) Want more evidence? (Of course you do, counselor.) Read this great essay about the power of visual thinking.

Or do you want that idea in a picture? (Yes? Now you’re getting the hang of it!). Here:

visual thinking a la postypography

Think about it: Which is mightier than which? (image by postypography)

4. Flowcharts work, especially when your mind doesn’t.

Do you remember law school? That was the place with all the words. Volumes of them. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to read 75 cases about wheat or chaff or something.

Do you remember your bar exam prep course? That was the place with pictures—or at least flowcharts. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to complete and then study a two-page chart that walked you through every possible permutation. Two pages, not volumes.

Close your eyes, and you may still remember those two pages. Close your eyes and think about the law school volumes. ZZZZZZZZZ.

But despite the evidence and our own experience, lawyers eschew images in favor of words. We know that Barbri (or whoever) saved our ass, but after that exam, we cozied up to words all over again.

Here’s an article that describes how valuable flowcharts can be. Read it, and then make one today.

5. Lawyers are creative, and many yearn to release a little art.

In case you missed it, I point you to a story we ran in Arizona Attorney recently. It’s about lawyers who were bit early by the art bug.

Read it and I bet you see a little of yourself there. You may not be a painter or author or sculptor. But infographics? It may be your milieu.

Want to get started? Here is a great collection of law-related infographics; they tend to be connected to personal injury practice, but let’s broaden our horizon to imag(in)e our own possibilities.

I’ll see you in the images.

My alluring seminar title

I like:

  • Magazines

And I like:

  • Courtesy

OK, there may be other things that warm my heart, but these two came immediately to mind when I opened an envelope this week.

That word “envelope” should give you a hint right away that something odd was afoot. Because aside from my gas bill and various other liabilities, what else arrives in a hard-copy, snail-mail envelope?

A thank-you note, that’s what.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. Today, I relate the goodness that can flow from an old-fashioned card, and I encourage us all to try it out.

This past June, I attended the annual conference of Association Media & Publishing in Washington DC. While I was there, I presented on the topic of reader engagement. My subject matter was the annual arts competition of Arizona Attorney Magazine, and I shared our path toward increased reader involvement.

Aiming (always) to engage my audience, I took a cell-phone shot of attendees about 10 minutes before I was scheduled to start my presentation. Here they are:

The session, I think, went well (I had a ball, and no one left in the middle: success). And the rest of the conference was informative and entertaining, so I felt like I got my budget’s worth.

Here’s the cover of my PowerPoint presentation, followed by the description in the conference brochure:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then this week, as the conference receded into my distant memory, a card arrived. It had a compelling cartoon, one that signals a love for the power of magazines (so they had me right there). Here is the cover (the cartoon is by Robert Weber for The New Yorker, 10/12/92):

And then I opened it, and it was signed by AMP’s stellar team, from Executive Director Amy Lestition right on down:

Customer service? Oh yeah. Association excellence? Uh-huh.

Here at the magazine, I try to send personal notes on a semi-regular basis. I know that authors and others appreciate it, especially when they have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Receiving this week’s card reminded me of the power of the personal. This fall, as I construct my 2012 budget to decide where to allocate valuable professional development dollars, that thank-you card and witty cartoon are bound to remind me of a great few days of learning that I had in Washington. And more important, they will remind me of professionals who dipped into their scarce free moments to connect across the country.

Bravo.

In an upcoming post I’ll write more about the great conference staged this week by Association Media & Publishing. Learnin’, conversatin’ and more were on the agenda, and they came through in spades.

Today is Friday, though, Change of Venue Day here at AZ Attorney. This is where we kick back and examine a law-related corner of the universe, but a corner that won’t strain our brains too much.

A popular feature of last week’s Convention Daily (staged right here on the blog) was the abundance of swag available from our great Exhibitors at the State Bar of Arizona Convention. See what we photographed here.

At this week’s media publishing conference in Washington, DC, takeaways also were available. Traveling with my one small carry-on bag, I passed up on much of those creative offerings. But I do share with you a popular legal-ish item: a squishy Capitol Dome, courtesy of media services firm Capitol Media Solutions. (As they say in DC, “Is that a cupola, or are you just happy to see me?” Well, both!)

Squishy Government

I could go on about how malleable the political process is, or how it caves to pressure at the slightest touch. But I’ll leave that aside, and just say of the Squishy Dome, It is simply fun to squeeze!

At the top left of this post is an image from a presentation available on the Capitol Media Solutions site regarding the media-selling process. Charming, that. (And no, we got nothing for this mention, and don’t do any business with CMS; I just like their taste in graphics and squishiness.)

For more about Capitol Media Solutions, watch the informational video on their website here. And you can access their media buying page here. Have a great weekend.