That's Robert Craghead--not Santa--gracing the cover of the December Illinois Bar Journal.

That’s Robert Craghead–not Santa–gracing the cover of the December Illinois Bar Journal.

When you edit a legal magazine, here’s one thing you end up doing—a lot: Reading other legal magazines. (Plus websites, newsletters, podcasts, videos, skywriting, and messages in bottles).

Occasionally, the stack of reading material can get pretty daunting, so you wrestle your nemesis to the ground and focus on what will engage you the most. And that’s how I came across … a terrific Q&A.

Robert Craghead is the longtime Executive Director of the Illinois State Bar Association. Fortunately for his colleagues and lawyers from the Land of Lincoln, he’s also one of the nicest guys in the legal biz.

I’ve had the pleasure to speak with Bob many times at national conferences, and I never fail to walk away with a smile on my face—and an idea or two to steal for my own association.

The Q&A is concise—I’m guessing it will take you 15 minutes to read. And when you do, you’ll hear a smart guy address issues that will determine the future of the legal profession.

You can read the magazine piece here.

Well done to Bob and the smart folks at the Illinois Bar Journal.

In my experience, it's hard not to find Robert Craghead smiling.

In my experience, it’s hard not to find Robert Craghead smiling.

Arizona Attorney Magazine July/August 2015 beards and mustaches facial hair

Before I move onto touting our September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine (which is pretty fantastic, if we do say so ourselves), I have to tip my hat to the July/August issue—specifically, our cover story on the wisdom of your witness having facial hair.

As the authors examine, beards and mustaches can be polarizing. And as you’d guess, there are good ways to do beards, and ways not to.

This past week, I strolled into my office’s lunchroom, where there is a small stack of magazines available for reading (even beyond AzAt; I know – I’m as surprised as you are!). That’s when I spotted a Men’s Fitness from this spring.

And what did I see? Facial hair everywhere. (Click to gigantify the bearded celebs.)

Clearly, a touch or more of scruffiness serves their readership. But even the hirsute magazine gave over a small area to muse in a piece titled “Old Growth: A Beard Can Age You Eight Years.”

Facial hair can age you: Hollywood's been warned.

Facial hair can age you: Hollywood’s been warned.

Ouch,” as the old folks say. Well, love facial hair or hate it, read up on this hairy subject in Arizona Attorney here. After all, our authors have combed through a thicket of research to get you answers.

By the way: We’ve had a good amount of fun this month featuring bearded famous folks on the magazine Facebook page. An example is below. Follow us for all the legal fun.

Yes, Arizona Attorney can get cheeky on its Facebook page. facial hair Nick Offerman

Yes, Arizona Attorney can get cheeky on its Facebook page.

silos how I love them

Silos: How I love them (let me count the ways).

I’ve written previously about our unique initiative called “CLE Snippets,” through which we create and release short videos that are Q&As between a timely author from Arizona Attorney Magazine and their thankful editor, me.

In the current magazine, I wax poetic about how much I appreciate those authors for sharing their time and talents. And I appreciate my Member Services Department colleague Jen Sonier for doing the same, as she brings her substantial videography talents to the endeavor.

Since the issue and my column came out, multiple readers told me they enjoyed seeing our tradition of taking a photo of me and the author. But they wondered about my column’s opening lines:

“O, how I love my silos.”

“I understand that’s not a popular concept. Just saying it out loud might terminate my subscription to Harvard Business Review.”

“But like a lot of people who are equal parts busy and highly committed to quality control, I find broad-scale collaboration … challenging, shall we say. Let me be, live and let live, catch you on the flip side. And don’t touch my cheese.”

“I am aware that different times require different strategies. And so I’ve aimed to take my best cooperative qualities, so visible and valuable in social media, into the realm of real. actual. people.”

“One result of that in the past year has been the launch of CLE Snippets, a pioneering collaboration between two State Bar departments. It brings together those of us who are relatively talented at content creation with those who are expert in online learning. The results? Valuable content for members and increased visibility for magazine articles and our talented authors.”

Specifically, readers wondered how anyone could defend silos. After all, silos have become the bugaboo of the modern office, where collaboration, cooperation, and deference to the short-walled cubicle are supposed to cure all our ills.

Briefly, my experience has been: For some, the demolition of silos has come from a genuine place of organizational improvement. But that’s not the whole picture. So if someone insists you should break down your silos, hold onto to your wallet/budget/resources. For you and your department/magazine/staff may have something the other person wants. For those requestors, silos are a one-way street (just to mangle and confuse some metaphors).

Trust but verify.

In any case, the image at the top of this post is one I created and have posted in my own workspace (talented, right?). It’s a reminder that I may be silly to love silos, but that there’s often something stinky lurking behind requests to tear them down.

And don’t touch my cheese.

What made me rethink my silo-love? Our authors. o'course.

What made me rethink my silo-love? Our authors. o’course.

New Yorker illustration by Brian Rea.

New Yorker illustration by Brian Rea.

It was not the plan to make this a magazine-appreciation week. Really.

Yesterday, I pointed you to our own evocative “Call to Authors” house ad that we occasionally publish in Arizona Attorney Magazine.

And then, on Sunday, I was leafing through the newest issue of The New Yorker. (If you’re a writer, I recommend it highly, especially when it comes to profiles and intriguing feature stories.)

There, in a section called “Shouts and Murmurs,” I came across a hilarious piece of short fiction called “Apocalypse,” by author Jack Handey. Here is part of how it opens in the world of 2042, noteworthy for its “marauding bands” of cannibals:

“The mail comes only about once a week, twice if you’re lucky. It is mostly junk mail. Somehow I have a subscription to a horrible magazine, Cannibalism Today. It features gruesome photographs and recipes. I have written to the magazine’s circulation department, asking them to please cancel my subscription, but every month I get the current issue with a note that says, ‘Welcome, New Subscriber!’ Nothing makes any sense anymore.”

As a magazine editor, I have sent exactly that type of missive, so my radar shot up pretty quickly.

Pretty fast, though, I realized that what at first glance was a riff on end times was really a love letter to that most compelling of communication channels—the magazine.

I’ll shut up and let you read the whole thing here.

What, the IKEA catalog is a bookbook? What could be better?

What, the IKEA catalog is a bookbook? What could be better?

Yesterday, I admired the writing and images in a national magazine. Today, I’m all about a consumer catalog. (You may start to think I like print products or something.)

On this Change of Venue Friday, I take you to IKEA. Not literally to IKEA, of course, but to an online offering of theirs that makes you smile.

The video the company created (see below) is in honor of its iconic print catalog—hundreds of pages of dead trees that modern thinking suggests is decidedly passe. But—no surprise—IKEA doesn’t agree. Enjoy its take, not an an ebook, but on a “bookbook.”

 

You can read more about the video in this Adweek story.

The “creative” behind the video is very, very smart. It skewers and parodies the manner of selling modern digital products. By the time they’re done you not only want to get your hands on the print catalog. You also will never be able to watch a solemn and self-important technology commercial ever again.

Have a wonderful weekend, and maybe stop by IKEA – now there’s a Stockholm syndrome I can get behind.

Most senior Arizona lawyer spread July Aug 2013Is it just me, or does it seem ridiculous beyond words that August is about to expire? The summer just started about yesterday, it seems.

Well, before the month passes, I will pass on to you today and tomorrow some items from the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, in case you haven’t seen them. If you have already read them, read them again—it’s highly nutritious stuff.

The first item of note arose from a question posed by attorney Richard Bellah: I wonder who the oldest-living member of the State Bar of Arizona is? Or, more particularly, who alive has the lowest Bar number?

Easy squeezey, we both thought. We have databases that can answer that kind of query quicker than two shakes of a dog’s tale.

Of course, we were wrong, much to our surprise.

Here’s why:

  • The data only go back so far, and
  • When the first lawyers became members of the Bar, they weren’t given numbers, and
  • When the Bar began handing out numbers, they didn’t start at 1.Arizona Attorney logo

Much head-scratching later, we developed a way to determine a pretty serviceable answer to our question. The result is a great feature article slugged “Who’s Number 1?” It examines the four oldest-living members, and includes their own commentary on what’s right and not so right with law practice.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The four most senior living Arizona attorneys—each well into their 90s—seem a satisfied bunch. They are very bright and could, if they desired, competently represent clients today; in fact, one still does. They remember in detail their law school experiences, the bar exam and early career days. They remember their colleagues fondly, and they acknowledge how different the practice is today. More than one of them mentioned that when they were young lawyers, everyone in the legal profession knew each other. There was an atmosphere of community and camaraderie. And there was no such thing as a ‘billable hour.’”

Yes, you’ll have to click through to see who those four are, and to read their valuable lessons from a life of law practice.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers who found the piece refreshing and a surprising snapshot of Arizona legal history.

Tomorrow, I share a briefer but just as compelling piece from the issue. Fair warning: I’ve been told it’s brought tears to readers’ eyes.

Bar Association of San Francisco logoThis may be odd, but when I travel for work or otherwise, I enjoy coming across legal news or a legal organization that is compelling or that provides significant value to attorneyslike here or here or here.

Don’t judge.

This week, I’m in San Francisco, and I’m pleased to report that the Bar Association of San Francisco does both those things.

Granted, I’m biased, as I know a few of the folks who run that bar, but I’m often pleased by the work that emanates from their offices. In member engagement, publications and online offerings, they are a leader and worthy of stealing from emulating.

San Francisco Attorney Magazine cover

You can read about the BASF here. But I point you to a few praiseworthy items.

First, here is a BASF initiative that was mentioned at the annual NABE Wednesday morning meeting by the group’s Executive Director, Daniel Burkhardt.

It is called the “Mind the Gap Initiative,” which aims to “provide recent law school graduates who are unemployed or underemployed with training, work experience, mentorship and debt reduction information.” You really need to read about the initiative’s five elements here.

Second, I am blown away by a new blog launched by the BASF. It’s called “Legal By the Bay,” and you should read it (and bookmark it) here.

Legal By the Bay includes constantly changing content, all aggregated in a variety of intuitive categories, including technology, family law, work life balance, dispute resolution and others.

There are many law blogs I enjoy and read regularly. But there are a few that I am routinely jealous of. What Colorado does is one. And now Legal By the Bay is another.

Finally, because I love print as much as digital, let me point you to a great, SF-style magazine story that I’m considering appropriating for our own Arizona Attorney.

The article, happily, is not about a drowsy new statute or regulation. Instead, it explores the trend of lawyers who like to bicycle—either to work or otherwise.

Lawyers in form-fitting Spandex may not seem to be the most appealing idea, but the BASF made it work—and in the process revealed a unique side of its membership.

Well done.

In a future Arizona Attorney, look for our coverage of lawyers who scale mountains, or brave triathlons, or get their own coffee. Just do it.

I tend not to say much about the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools. No offense to the schools that did well (or the opposite), but the rankings are a little goofy. Kind of like an ABA accreditation process that counts the number of hard-copy volumes a law school has, as if that is an important indicator of legal training. (I love books, but I think 1970 is calling, and they want their library back.)

The ranking process is, shall we say, opaque. It reminds me of the vaulted (and vaunted) formula Google uses to calculate news rankings. Somewhere in there is the secret sauce that will move schools up.

As I thought about that, I came across a Department of Defense PowerPoint chart (below) that “explains” pstabilization in Afghanistan. And some small quadrant of that represents the complexity that must occupy the waking hours of law school administrators. No wonder they rub their temples a lot.

complex chart afghanistan law school

It really is this complex to determine who trains lawyers the best?

Despite my skepticism for the process, a recent ABA Journal news story on the topic caught my eye, for a few reasons.

For one, it included a good Bloomberg video (posted below) on this year’s rankings. Clearly, there is no joy in some Mudvilles.

And second, the following sentence grabbed my attention: “Greater weight is now given for permanent, full-time jobs that require bar passage or for which a J.D. is an advantage.”

Really? I’ve been referred to as “disadvantaged.” But never the reverse. My job as a legal magazine editor has been recognized as more valuable?

I’ll alert my masters. And Accounting.

Hmmm. Maybe I should start to take those rankings more seriously.

You can read the whole news piece here.

Today, more of a question than a talky talky post: Do any of you use an iPad for work?

I ask for a few reasons.

First of all, we are working on the October issue of Arizona Attorney, in which we’ll have some IT for lawyers content. And unlike last year, when we had an iPad story, we don’t have one this year. A reason for that was that no one ever said to me, “Right on, finally some content for the iPad lawyer!”

I would have been happy even without the “Right on.” But it was pretty quiet out there.

Another reason is that I came across this great article, which explains some nifty ways to present using your iPad. That made me think, we should have done something like that in the upcoming issue. But then I remembered my first point above, and I wasn’t so sure.

At home, we have a few iPads, and they are terrific. But it hadn’t really crossed my mind to use them for work stuff, let alone in presentations.

So how about it? Do you use one for work?

Tougher questions now: Have you used them for courtroom presentations?

Would you?