“ The Lawyer is the market leading title for commercial lawyers and corporate directors, reporting on the news and opinions shaping the world of business. With the most respected and authoritative editorial team in the marketplace, The Lawyer breaks all the major stories, both domestic and global, and provides the most incisive analysis every week. A dedicated news section, International Lawyer, uncovers the major stories from around the world. A weekly section, The Lawyer Deals, provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date deals reporting in the market. „
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Chances are, if you are a lawyer reading this, youll know all there is to know about The Lawyer magazine/paper. It will probably arrive in your post every Monday, youll flick through it sometime before Wednesday if youre not too busy and if you havent managed that it will go into the bin, unopened about three weeks later having gathered dust on the floor in the meantime.
If you are not a lawyer, you may be wondering why youre even bothering to read any further. Do. If you are in business and/or if you ever need or come into contact with lawyers, you might just have a need to know a little of what I have to say.
*** MULTIMEDIA FOR A DIGITAL AGE ***
As lawyers, were not all quill pens and ink pots. The profession has come of age and technology is slowly seeping into even the darkest corners of the most ivory of towers.
The Lawyer is, for want of a better description, media for the profession. It takes two forms, one printed and one online. It is the online resource that is of most relevance to the general consumer and is probably the format least appreciated by the profession.
*** THE PAPERZINE ***
Paperzine is almost definitely not a word but it does describe the printed form of The Lawyer rather well. About the size of a tabloid newspaper, it is printed on white, glossy, magazine-style paper and contains a mixture of news relating to the solicitors profession, articles and know-how and job adverts.
Published to arrive on the desks of thousands every Monday, it is available by subscription at a cost of around £80 a year (although, I suspect that the majority of readers do so for free as part of one of the many exemptions available, details of which seem to pop, miraculously, into your inbox when you qualify as a lawyer or move jobs!).
Most weeks you can probably flick through the pages in about 10 minutes. Its not what you would call a good read. I tend to look for reports about my employer, direct competitors or clients for whom I work. The reports are short and to the point and generally remain factual rather than adding editorial comment. There is an editorial section commenting specifically on the news stories but is probably of little interest unless you had an interest in the original story. The know-how sections are more in-depth and concentrate on an industry sector with a few teasers added alongside to ensure recent developments are noted. Again, unless you have an interest in the sector under discussion the know-how is likely to be of little use. Finally, the jobs section. This is either read in depth or skipped entirely depending on the state of mind of the reader. Its the usual format, recruitment agents and firms advertising positions vacant. In amongst these youll find a few small ads for professional services (no, not that kind) such as tracers, will writers, suit makers or even high market travel companies.
My opinion on the printed version is a mixed one. Sometimes its a good read, most of the time its a quick flick and into the recycle pile. The reporting style suits a busy professional. Its far more factual than the reporting in the more gossip orientated Legal Week the Sun of the legal press and far less dry than that found in The Gazette the official magazine of the Law Society. Theres little to commend the publication to anyone outside of the profession.
*** THE WEBSITE ***
This is where, in my opinion, this review becomes more relevant to the non-legal consumer. The legal professional might also learn something and maybe, just maybe, be prepared to part with all those back-copies gathering dust on the floor.
www.thelawyer.com is available to all, without subscription. It contains, on a week by week basis, all of the information contained in the printed format. The ability exists to access the information contained in back issues via a search facility, a far more palatable proposition to all, professional or consumer, compared to trawling through the hard copies!
National and International news concentrates on stories about law firms: appointments, changes in management, profits, major client wins and new office openings all appear. This is probably of limited use outside of the profession but may be interesting if you are a business buyer of legal services and want to read what is going on in the firms you use or are considering. A quick search, maybe once a month, should see you right. If you do not use lawyers in a business context and only ever come across them when moving, divorcing or getting into trouble, then youre probably not going to find anything relevant. High street firms do feature occasionally but they are of little general interest to the profession as a whole and so tend not to get coverage.
Unique to the website edition is Breaking News does exactly what it says new stories that have not yet made it to print but which are likely to be of interest to the profession are first published here. Again, this is probably of little relevance to most lawyers, let alone the general consumer, but may be of interest to marketing executives who need to be on the ball.
Of more interest to the non-professional business person is the Deals section. Here details of transactions are published together with a few details as to the legal structures that were put in place. Of major interest to lawyers as it is here you find whos acting for whom but also of interest to business in general as you can find out what your competitors are up to and who they use for legal services.
The Opinion section is like any editorial, you either like the style of the writer or you dont. Personally I dont generally although there is sometimes food for thought and a perspective offered that was previously unconsidered.
In-depth Analysis might be of use to those in general business, depending on the topics covered. Employment features regularly with discussions of legislative changes such as those made to The Working Time Directive and items on corporate responsibility. Construction, Finance, Off-shore, Matrimonial, Media and IT all have regular slots providing essentially free legal commentary.
Client File should also be of use to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. In this section major corporates are profiled along with their head of legal. It is often the place to get a bit of background on a company and its deals. Clearly the bias is legal, what firms the client uses, what its spend is and where it sees itself heading but thats not to say that there is not fodder there for general business.
Profiles does a similar thing to Client File but with leading lawyers. Of little interest to most unless you want to know a little more about the person you are paying £1000 an hour for!
Tulkinghorn is the fun section of the site (and paper). Its similar to the tea-break pages one finds in the tabloid press but written with lawyers in mind. Theres a cartoon strip (The Sharp End) which is invariably un-funny in the extreme and a mini serial (Legal Widow) which contains a lot of in-jokes and, to my mind, a distinct lack of humour. Youll also find short pieces, not that far removed from the little short anecdotes you find in the likes of Readers Digest, all of which fall flat when you havent a clue who is being talked about, oh yes, and a few society snaps, pictures generally of legal hacks in party mode. Hello this isnt!
LAW STUDENT or TRAINEE LAWYER?
Lawyer2B (note the step towards text-speak!) is a section aimed at the law student and trainee lawyer. It would also make interesting reading for anyone thinking of a career in law. This section is available in hard copy and is distributed through universities, law schools and some firms.
This section should not be overlooked by qualified lawyers or indeed business users. It follows the same kind of layout as the main Lawyer site including a very good know-how section. As it is aimed at juniors you can often find a more basic, and thus more useful commentary on topics here.
If you are looking to a career in the law and have got to University stage but have not yet secured a training contract, youve just missed out on a great competition, the prize for which was a scholarship to the BPP law school to take the professional exams. Might not sound to great a prize to non-lawyers but with fierce competition and a value of around £5000+ its certainly not to be sniffed at!
The Lawyer regularly published Top 100 reports (available both online and in print). These are essential legal profession league tables highlighting the biggest and best law firms, lawyers and even deals. These are well worth a look for lawyers and non-lawyers alike and provide a great resource.
Free company details are available through the Business Watch section of the website due to a link up with ICC. If you want to know where a company is registered or who the directors are, come here. Youll need to register but this is free and gives you access to basic information.
Business Watch is also where youll find the infamous (amongst the profession) salary surveys and business confidence surveys. The former is of keen interest to lawyers and Im sure it features in many a negotiation over salaries. The latter is of use to the business community. It highlights business done by law firms and where they see the markets going. Lawyers are often the first in the market to predict general down and up-turns driven by the deals that they see coming through the doors.
Finally, the Lawyer Directories provide searchable databases of all kinds of information on lawyers, firms, service providers and event organisers again, not only of value to the profession.
*** OF USE? ***
As a lawyer this forms one of the must read publications that hits the desk weekly. How much I read varies.
I do, however, think that the website in particular provides a valuable information resource that is not easily rivalled elsewhere. It collects together a wealth of information about the legal profession and presents it in an easily digestible format. The business community could do well to delve in from time to time to keep a check on what we are all up to and to keep abreast of developments.
Navigation is simple and intuitive and the set up business-like rather than glitzy - just as well with a bunch of lawyers as main clients.
As an afterthought, the registration facility on the site allows anyone to receive email updates on a regular basis. I subscribed and then unsubscribed again as I didnt find the updates particularly useful and they offer no more than the site itself.