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.

Do you know what’s sexy in business? Understanding and addressing complexity. Schwing! (Image: Wikimedia Commons, which is all about the sexiness of sharing)

Do you know what’s sexy in business? Understanding and addressing complexity. Schwing! (Image: Wikimedia Commons, which is all about the sexiness of sharing)

Regular readers of this blog know that on Fridays, I sometimes seek an item that is lighter than my usual legal fare. Why have a heavy lawyerly meal when you’d really prefer a lighter snack?

Well, there are lighter days, and then there’s this. Under the strictures of the International Guild of Blog Creators and Purveyors (Local 4201), I am obligated to share with you the following news: In a highly unscientific manner, a human occupation has been deemed the … wait for it … world’s sexiest job.

Lawyers clock in at no. 4 on the got-it-going-ohhhnnn scale. But that’s not what is troubling here. Not even close.

First, head over to the interwebs for the story. It’s everywhere, so why don’t you try the Phoenix Business Journal? They provide a slideshow of those oh-so-sexy jobs in a hot-hot-hot top 10 list. And they manage to lead off with some stock art that I would guess they located by using search terms like “male, white, glasses, inappropriate office attire, pecs.” (You’re welcome, Biz Journal, for the SEO-service I’m offering here.)

If you like the beefcake but are simply too tired to click through, here is the list, from ice-cube chilly to steamin’ hot:

Engineer, architect, marketing/advertising executive, real estate developer, physician, business consultant, attorney, software developer, financial adviser, and … CEO/entrepreneur.

Where do we begin to unpack this unsexiness sandwich?

First, you really should look at what I believed was the stock art used for “attorney.” In fact, here it is (drawn, I guessed at first, from search terms like white, suit and powerful).

The Phoenix Business Journal's photo to exemplify its "attorney" category.

The Phoenix Business Journal’s photo to exemplify its “attorney” category.

Of course, why spend money on stock art when lawyer websites are filled with the real thing? And hey, that’s the identical photo on the website of Fennemore Craig! Don’t believe me?! Say hi to attorney John Balitis. A screenshot of his firm’s web page is below, along with the Business Journal’s slideshow.

I really hope John doesn’t take it personally. I mean, if national rankers had seen his toothsome photo, lawyers’ ranking would be much higher than 4!

So that takes me to the obvious issue—no, not the “interesting” state of business journalism, but the question of where this occupational ranking came from in the first place.

It came from here, the What’s Your Price website, where people pay for dates; more attractive people garner higher payouts. You can set your fee and (perhaps) get taken out. Hmmm. That sounds familiar. In fact, their business model sounds a lot like the world’s oldest profession.

screenshot what's your price

Yes, do read the small print on the bottom.

So it was “data” from this site that yielded the sexiness assessments. I mean. I can’t. I can’t even.

Adding to my skepticism is the fact that a few of these jobs must have been as amorphous and unclear to those who are willing to “date for dollars” as they are to the rest of us. I mean, “business consultant”? “Financial adviser”? Why don’t we just tell people we’re an importer/exporter and watch the dating dollars flow in?

OK, here is a final point that may salvage this Change of Venue Friday from what appear to be the dregs of a declining civilization: I wondered: Why do business publications care so much about the sexiest occupations?

It’s true; they do. As (more) evidence, here is none other than the Harvard Business Review examining the sexiest job in the 21st century. In case you were wondering (and I know you were) that job is not CEO/entrepreneur, or attorney. That job is … data scientist.

What is a data scientist? No one knows. But in 3,600 words or so, two educated fellows clue us in.

Bored? Between paid dates? Take some time to read their opus and let me know what they say. I simply couldn’t.

But I did zip down to the end to read their bios. And uh-huh, you’re right. One of the authors is a data scientist. The hot one, I assume.

Have a great—and data-driven—weekend. I’ll be importing/exporting, in case anyone wants to buy me a drink.