Saving history

Opening Statement

John McNally

Managing editor

October 2019

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

That’s all I could think about being when I listened to Chuhak & Tecson partner Miriam “Mimi” Stein discussing how she was able to have first-person access to an incredible collection of historical photos from the files of Chicago’s own Johnson Publishing Co.

Martin Luther King Jr. photos. Malcolm X photos. Prince photos. Not just the historical shots we’ve seen throughout the years. Candid photos of them at home. Many never published.

And Stein got to handle these all because of the luck of the draw. Stein was my first in-depth interview since I came aboard to Chicago Lawyer back in July. I told her that I was a novice to the day-to-day processes of how cases come to bankruptcy trustees.

Imagine my surprise when Stein told me the Johnson Publishing case came her way in a pile of 40 other cases she received that day. Sometimes Rota Fortunae does roll your way.

In my first Chicago Lawyer column last month, I promised you more exclusive online content at chicagolawyermagazine.com. Stein’s tale and the story about the sale of Johnson Publishing archives from Ebony and Jet magazines made an ideal first venture. Make sure to visit our website and check out this story about everything that went into salvaging a national and local treasure for future generations by several foundations and the Smithsonian Institution.

Here’s a little taste of what you’ll learn from Stein:

Stein on being able to look through all the photos: “ … What’s cool about the archives is that not just necessarily Prince on stage. It’s Prince in his dressing room, at home, walking on the street. I took photos of the photos. For instance, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar standing at Lake Michigan with his family. It was very surreal. There were hundreds of boxes and it was very overwhelming.”

I look forward to what the buyers of the Johnson Publishing collection have planned. I hope that some local museums — something Stein mentions was discussed — can showcase even just a portion of what Stein got to view during the bankruptcy sale.

We all would be better off for it.

2019 JVR Settlements Report

During one of the first few days of my tenure, I sat down with our publisher Ginger Lamb and Daily Law Bulletin editor Marc Karlinsky. We discussed the rest of 2019 and they told me all the details that come with putting out our October issue and the importance of the Jury Verdict Reporter settlements issue.

A couple of weeks later, I truly understood the gravity of the project as I had to decipher all the information and find the most important trends.

Jumping off of our September cover story on the growing trend of more dispute resolution and mediation cases, it was still a surprise to see a large increase of settlements (71%) in auto collision cases despite a slight decrease in the number of cases compared to 2018.

Additionally, auto collision trials fell by 27%. While the data shows that this is where the trend is heading, it’s still jarring to see it in ink, especially when you’re starting to learn the marketplace.

Make sure to check out our full presentation of the 2019 JVR Settlements Report, starting on Page 20. Our design team put together some incredible looking information graphics, a great overall ranking display and more.

This was quite the undertaking, but I learned quite a bit.

That’s always the goal.