As I prepare this Editor's Note, we're in the midst of March Madness. Men's and women's college basketball teams get ready to compete in the NCAA tournaments, putting their hearts and souls on the line with the hope of advancing.
I wasn't always a college basketball fan. Which may seem amazing since I attended Indiana University, past home of legendary coach Bobby Knight. But learning the stories behind the coaches and teams first got me interested in the sport. I then started paying more attention to the determination behind the players and the strategy the coaches use to lead them. And now, I find myself watching hours of basketball in one weekend — finding ways to do all the tasks I can in front of the TV. I particularly like how the players see that wall of difficulty and they keep going, either pushing down that wall or finding ways around it. That determination allows them to keep driving to the hole when adversity stands in their way. I like witnessing that type of drive in any profession or job.
That determination pushes them to get up off the court floor after someone runs them over and knocks the wind out of them. For many players, they keep the ultimate goal of the NBA in the back of their minds. But for others, they will only play in college and then move on to other pursuits.
I faced a similar realization about the legal community when I first took the job at Chicago Lawyer as a reporter. I didn't know a great deal about the legal community beyond what the general public knows.
But then I discovered the stories behind the lawyers. From there, I started to see trends in practice areas and again I saw a similar drive and determination on the part of the lawyers.
In the Q&A I do each month in the magazine, I always ask lawyers, "What is your favorite book, play, movie or TV show about lawyers and why?" Nine times out of 10 they say "To Kill a Mockingbird." The reason why? They admire Atticus Finch and consider him the MVP of lawyers. You could say that Finch is the John Wooden of the legal world — sure he made mistakes but he still remains the epitome of what a leader should encompass.
We, as a publication, try to find that heart and soul in the legal community and write about those people.
For example, in this month's "Inspiring Innovators" series, freelance reporter Christine Kraly writes about Sister Catherine Ryan. She approaches law unconventionally, but with heart. Many lawyers wanted to see a profile on her for several years and I'm glad we offer it in this issue.
I often tie passion and innovation together. And with innovation comes new ways to practice law. I also believe that innovation occurs when we open ourselves up to new ideas and new ways of looking at areas of life. If I never started watching college basketball or if I never started working at the Chicago Lawyer, two worlds would never be known to me.
With this month's issue focusing on technology, we offer several stories about how to innovatively tie technology to your practice. Some people may say that these technological ideas won't go mainstream, but you never know. In the cover story by Roy Strom, we talk about how lawyers integrate technology into their business models. They show that law firms do not need to look like they did yesterday and they do not need to operate like they did yesterday.
Freelance reporter Sherry Karabin writes about how the use of social media requires firms to create new practice areas and many law schools to offer classes in this area. Sending a tweet or writing a blog can be fun for a client, but it also creates potential legal ramifications.
On the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin side, I noticed that a number of law firms announced leadership changes.
I wondered what that meant for the individual firm and its goals. I also wondered how these new leaders weathered the economic storm that still hangs over parts of the legal community. Roy looked into these questions when he interviewed several of the new law firm leaders.
In the spirit of innovation, we're looking for new story ideas. These story ideas should be issue oriented, meaning they should not focus on one lawyer or one law firm. The ideas should focus on trends you're noticing in the legal world. E-mail me with those ideas.