WE JOURNALISTS HERE AT ALM HAVE A CAREER TRACK.
Most of us start as cub reporters, often at a local newspaper, sometimes at one of our publications. The reporters gain expertise and a voice, and after a while, many
become senior reporters or writers. At this stage in their
careers, they’re masters of long-form reporting, able to
delve deeply into a story and construct a gripping yarn.
A lot of our more accomplished reporter-writers like
to stop at this point. It’s a good job; they get to travel to
talk to sources, and to gain access to documents and a
sense of location that can only come from being there.
Sue Reisinger is our in-house example. She’s got years of
experience as a business reporter and editor, and she’s
written sweeping sagas of legal department misdeeds
and, sometimes, triumph.
Others start, sometimes accidentally, to take on editing duties. At our newsroom companion publication,
The American Lawyer, David Bario, Julie Triedman and
Susan Beck do both writing and editing.
Here at Corporate Counsel, we have our executive
editor, David Hechler. He was a senior reporter who
excelled at long-form journalism, writing about subcontracting in India, a defense contractor whistleblower,
So when he applied for the editor
job, I had a tough decision to make.
His stories contributed so much to
the magazine, but at the same time,
he wanted to do something different.
It’s a classic manager’s dilemma,
Luckily for us,
though, Hechler’s got
a level of curiosity and
energy that means he
just can’t stop reporting and writing in addition to his
day job. One of the results is this month’s cover story,
“Staffing Up,” on page 86. Hechler does one of his trade-
mark institutional profiles and shows how three big tech
companies find and hire their in-house talent. All three
are different, but they share one common trait: They’re
looking for people who don’t always fit the typical law-
yer mold, and they’re not afraid to experiment. And they
nurture their talent and throw them into challenging sit-
uations. Hechler shows all this with his typical keen eye
and genuine fondness for people and how they work
and live together.
There’s more to my colleague’s work: This year he
picked up a prestigious Jesse H. Neal award for his
reportage in last year’s April issue on Toyota Motor
Corporations’s problem with unintended acceleration.
Hechler came into possession of internal documents
that didn’t provide a smoking gun to the problem itself,
but showed a mega-company in disarray, with some
engineers plainly troubled, others trying hard not to see
there was a problem, and a general feeling of confusion.
With his typical diligence, Hechler sent the documents
to automotive analysts, whose observations provided
much of the story. It was a tough job that took months,
and in March the government reached a $1.2 billion
settlement with the automaker.
Thanks, David, and congratulations.