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Career & Employment Opportunities

Journalism Careers For Lawyers – Jobs To Do With A Law Degree


Luber: Hey everyone – Marc Luber here – today
on JD Careers Out There we’re looking at what it’s like to use your law background
as a journalist – so stick around! [theme song] Alright, today’s guest is Jill Schachner
Chanen, who left the practice of law for a career in journalism. Today she’s the assistant
managing editor of the ABA Journal and she also teaches journalism at Columbia College
in Chicago. As you may already know, at JDCOT, we explore career paths both in and out of
law to help you find a fulfilling career that fits you and help you succeed using your law
degree. Today, Jill’s gonna tell us all about working in journalism, so let’s get
started. Jill, welcome to JDCOT! Jill: Thanks, Marc, it’s good to be here. Luber: Definitely, thank you for being here.
And Jill, I’m going to ask you to tell us all about this path, who makes a good fit
for it, how to break in and stuff like that. But first, tell us, what do you as a legal
journalist? Jill: Well I’m an assistant managing editor
at the ABA Journal of the American Bar Association and we’re a monthly publication that goes
out to about half a million lawyers every month and we like to say we cover the law,
the legal profession and trends in the law from Wall Street to Main Street nationwide. What that translates to as a legal journalist
may mean something different every single day. I, as an editor, help plan the magazine,
help assign stories, actually edit stories and I’m also taking on some new roles, as
many journalists are these days, in trying to monetize our editorial content. So looking
for business development opportunities, we’re expanding into programming, seminars and the
like, so it’s always a jam-packed day; it means lots of different things. But the essence of being a legal journalist
is really being a reporter or an editor and covering the law, whether that’s a Supreme
Court decision or trends in the law, writing profiles of interesting people in the law
and just covering the industry in general. Luber: Interesting. So can you describe to
us how the role of editor would differ from the role of reporter, both in the day-to-day
work as well as the lifestyle of the job? Jill: Yeah, that’s a great question. Let
me just start, a reporter generally is somebody who, really, his primary responsibility is
writing and they may have responsibility for coming up with their own story ideas or taking
assignments from editors and doing the story idea. And they may have a certain quota every
day if you’re working for a daily newspaper, for example. You may have a quota of stories
you have to write every day; you have to cover a beat, which means a certain topic or subject
area and turn in a certain number of stories. Working for a monthly magazine, we’re probably
a bit slower pace; we don’t have as many stories but we’re also thinly staffed like
everybody else is these days, so we’re doing more with less. As an editor I, on occasion, write. I guess
I have the benefit and the luxury of being a little bit choosy if I want to write something
or I want to assign it out. I have a lot of responsibilities, planning…actually editing,
taking copy in – raw copy that comes in and working with it and rewriting it and working
with reporters. I do that on a daily basis. And a constant responsibility to come up with
content for the magazine. I’m not the only editor; we all have those responsibilities,
but it’s a lot of pressure to always come up with current, interesting copy and that
requires a lot of time, research, talking to people, being out in the street. Luber: Alright, so that should give you a
little taste of what it’s like to work in journalism. If you’re watching on YouTube
and this was helpful, please give us the thumbs up! And if you want to see the full interview
with Jill, come on over to JDCOT.com – I’ll throw a link right there – and you’ll
hear Jill talk about things like a typical day, who makes the right fit for this path,
how to break in and lots more. Make sure you join our membership – so that way you get
access to all the helpful video content and the transcripts. Thanks again for watching
everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see you soon.

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