Journalists’ Journal: A talk with Eric Effron, Editor, Reuters Legal

by Tom Mariam on April 9, 2012

The Reuters news service has significantly boosted its coverage of legal affairs and the legal business during the past year, including a number of major hires from competitors such as The American Lawyer.  Eric Effron, editor of Reuters Legal, gave some insight on the latest major force in legal media with our Tom Mariam.

Why has Reuters decided to put so many resources into legal coverage over the past year or two?

While Reuters is a great and storied news organization, parent company Thomson Reuters has tended to view the legal market through the lens of its powerful legal database Westlaw or through business-of-law offerings like Monitor Suite and Peer Monitor. Over the last 18 months or so, starting with the hiring of Steve Adler (now the editor-in-chief of Reuters), the company has been aspiring to become more valuable to practitioners by ramping up legal coverage. At the same time, Reuters has sought to deepen legal coverage for its financial customers as well as its media clients.

What is Reuters mission in terms of covering legal matters and the legal industry?

Reuters, best-known as a financial wire service, is becoming a world-class news organization, with ground-breaking coverage of markets, politics, and general news — on a global scale. First-rate coverage of the law is a central part of this mission, since it enriches existing areas of coverage while bringing in new readers. The mission for the legal team is to be ahead of the curve on legal developments that move markets, that shape the justice system, and that affect the practice of la

What news and story lines are Reuters journalists seeking?

We are interested in stories that shed new light on how law is shaped and practiced in the U.S. and beyond. Among other things, we care about innovative litigation and law-firm management strategies; important cases; the administration of justice; judicial selection; legal education; and legal and judicial ethics

Is Reuters competing with The American Lawyer – particularly since you have hired quite a few of their journalists?

For its broadest coverage goals, Reuters is competing with the likes of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.  On news and current awareness products we are developing that are aimed at legal practitioners, the competitive landscape includes ALM, Law360, BNA, among others.

How is your coverage of legal matters different from Bloomberg, which has devoted a lot of resources to that field for quite a few years now?

Reuters and Bloomberg cover a lot of the same ground, though Bloomberg, I believe, tends to be more focused on legal developments that affect companies and markets, while Reuters is more broad-based in its approach.

What are the leading trends you have found in legal affairs over the past year or two?

In leaner economic times, law firms have become more serious about marketing, business development and smart managemen

Many law firms like to market themselves as brands.  Do you see individual firms as separate brands?  If so, what are some good examples of a law firm brand?

I tend to think of law firms as top-tier or not, and whether or not they qualify is an admittedly unscientific subjective opinion based on what I know of their client base, size, reputation, and standout partners. I do think that some firms have achieved brand status: Wachtell, Lipton equals Wall Street; Patton, Boggs means lobbying; Kirkland for litigation; etc.

Are you dedicating any coverage to law firms themselves?

Yes.

What is the best way for law firms to work with you and your staff?

If you have what you think is an important or interesting story, pitch away! I can steer you to the right reporter.

What is your background?  What do you like to do away from work?

Before joining Thomson Reuters in September 2010, I served for seven years as executive editor of The Week magazine, known as a lively “print aggregator” of news and opinion. Earlier, and for most of my career, I was with Legal Times, including four years as editor and publisher. So in coming to Thomson Reuters, I am returning to my roots in legal publishing, though the editorial and business environment has changed dramatically.

When not working, I enjoy bicycling, reading, music, and trying to stay in touch with my three kids who, somehow, all ended up in college at the same time.

Tom Mariam is the President of Mariam Communications LLC.  You can reach Tom at tom@mariam.biz.

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