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Contribute to your member publications

By Susan Ferrer, sferrer@inbar.org, ISBA director of communications & editor of Res Gestae

In 1956, ISBA President Tom Scanlon created a publications committee to upgrade The Bulletin, a mimeographed newsletter, which, in fact, was a legal-size sheet of paper that was nothing more than a calendar. Volunteer lawyer-editors and a small bar staff went to work, and the newly named Res Gestae was published, for the first time, in November of that year.
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We’ve come a long way baby, and yet its mission remains the same as in year one: to be a magazine with an emphasis on legal topics of practical value to lawyers.

Let’s talk content:

Section and/or committee columns are in the neighborhood of 1,500 words, have fewer endnotes and do not necessitate the rigorous review by members of the Written Publications Committee. Longer-treatment articles, upwards to 3,500 words, typically have a gazillion endnotes and are subject to a review process that can last a couple of months or more before a publication date is set.

Sections and committees with columns include ADR, Appellate Practice, Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights, Criminal Justice, Probate, Trust & Real Property and Wellness.

My message to sections or committees that don’t have either a periodic newsletter – print or electronic – or a current column in the magazine: Res Gestae is here for you!

Consider writing an article of modest length that deals with need-to-know matters in your area of practice: legislation, proposed or new rules, practice tips, hot topics. We can even include information about upcoming CLE if there’s time to promote it in the magazine, although our other communication channels may be better suited for such time-sensitive marketing.

Please consider generating a column even if only two or three times a year. The magazine needs you – it’s your publication – consider yourself part of the editorial staff and work with your chair in submitting copy to Res Gestae.

On to newsletters, print & electronic:

If you have the ambition and resources, I would encourage print. Your budget, along with volunteer editors and writers, will dictate frequency, but however many you produce in a year’s time, a section newsletter is arguably the best benefit of membership going.

If your section is small in size and revenue, producing a newsletter is not out of reach. We can still create the newsletter but save on printing and postage by converting it to a PDF and creating a link to circulate to your members. The Young Lawyers Section does both: It publishes two print versions of the YLS Network and two electronic ones.

Routine content includes a message from the chair and sometimes the editor, case law updates, promotion of programming (CLEs, receptions, etc.), how-to articles, current legislation, practice tips and more. Once your staff liaisons receive all of your copy, we lay it out, you review it, and then we produce it in whatever form your section or committee can afford.

Communication is the key to recruiting and maintaining our membership. We’re here to help in any way possible!

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