Reflections on the Contra Costa Lawyer

Reflections on the Contra Costa Lawyer

When the editorial board decided to change the focus of our December issue to address reflections on the changes in the practice of law, little did I know that I would end up writing about the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine. I thought the focus was unique and interesting and would hopefully be as popular as our summer sports issue was.

As I write this, I have been on the editorial board for something like 15 years. I lose track of the length of my tenure what with all the grey hair creeping in even though my bar picture still shows me young and sprightly. Lisa Reep invited me onto the editorial board not long after I took on the role of President for the Solo and Small Firm Section. She thought I knew things about technology because I made a number of changes to the section to bring it into the 21st century.

Because of that literacy, I was asked to join the board to write about technology and the practice of law. When I joined, other than the cover, our magazine consisted of 12 black and white print editions. Faxing was still popular and I was one of the few who scanned all their paper into the computer for a paper-less office. The CCCBA’s website was rudimentary at best, the sections communicated with their members through fax blasts and none of them had email listservs. The editorial board was still every bit as committed to putting out the best product possible and our current efforts build on the foundation created by all of the prior editorial boards and editors. However, none of us had experience making an electronic publication and the possibilities and challenges that such versions bring.

Around 2009-10, the editorial board started discussing on-line versions of the magazine. I helped create our very first ‘on-line’ issue which, if memory serves, was an extended PDF version of the magazine that we emailed out to bar members. It was rudimentary, not easy to use but was ‘electronic.’ It allowed us to play with the technology at the time and to pilot ideas for electronic versions. It was after this issue that we then started to seriously plan moving to six electronic versions and six print versions each year, which is what we moved to as of 2011. This also led the bar to hiring its first full-time communications coordinator. One of the major requirements for the role was the ability to create on-line publications.

Our current web-based electronic versions are light years ahead of where we started (as are our full-color print editions). The editorial board meetings are still every bit as fun, although I do miss Andy Ross bringing bagels and cream cheese to the meetings. The creative process hasn’t changed but now we track page views, visits and other analytics that let us know how popular our on-line articles and issue themes are. This data really aids in improving the magazine as we can see what our readers like and don’t like and when a concept issue strikes a chord with our readers.

The editorial board hopes that for our long-time readers you have enjoyed watching the publication grow and change and the for newer readers, we look for your input to help mold our future growth.