We don’t publish rumors

January 5, 2009
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Today's blog is from IL managing editor Betsy Brockett:

Day after day, we read stories in the National Law Journal and other legal publications about how the tumultuous economy has hit the legal profession again and again. Even close to home, judges and attorneys talk about how hard the Indiana legal community has been hit. Some trial court judges have had to fight budget cuts just to keep their courts running smoothly. Budgets and the bottom lines aren’t on the minds of just law firm management.

Yes, the Indiana legal community has been hit hard … or so we’ve heard, but we’re not in the business of publishing rumors.

In recent months a judge wondered why we haven’t been covering how hard the downturn has impacted our legal professionals. We’ve published stories about the sour economy and various sectors of the legal community for several issues now.

Recently, a lawyer called the office wanting to know the scoop about the layoffs in Indianapolis. Well, we hear the rumors, too. Some even merit investigation.

Associate positions cut. Summer associate programs cut or trimmed. Administrative/support staff reduced. Non-equity partners let go. We’ve heard it all. The problem: the people in positions to address the rumors have chosen to ignore the opportunity to set the record straight.

People wear their rose-colored glasses when they talk with us. No one will name names. Some firms claim any changes are just a result of regular housecleaning or an annual shakeup.

Yes, we understand it’s about public perception and local, state, regional, national reputation … and the bottom line. But IL’s job is to cover our local legal community, which also is our readership. There is a legitimate way and reason to report any such happenings – talk with us about such decisions, about the strength of your commitment to being responsible to your clients and partners.

Sure, times may be tough, but claiming all is rosy can sometimes be counterproductive as rumors grow and exacerbate any bad perceptions. Honest explanations can often stall the rumor mill, garner support … and maybe even help people.

How? Because if people share how they’re combating this economy’s negative effects, someone else may learn something that helps them or someone may be able to help with the problem.

If people – individuals or corporate clients – mistake a shoring up of expenses as something more serious like an impending implosion, the truth is much better than rampant rumors.

You want the news. We’re trying to deliver. And the truth doesn’t always hurt.
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