Trustpilot
 
Industry Updates

Meet the media: John van der Luit-Drummond, Solicitors Journal deputy editor

Reading time: 5 mins

Shelley Schubert, B2B marketing manager, March 27, 2017

Solicitors Journal is the world’s longest-running weekly legal publication. Launched in 1857, it provides reliable and trusted news to legal professionals. We caught up with its deputy editor, John van der Luit-Drummond, a former PI paralegal, to find out what he regards as news, who he wants to hear from, and why he thinks lawyers need to improve their lobbying efforts.

Tell us more about Solicitors Journal

Solicitors Journal is published online and in a weekly print magazine format. We publish midweek email newsletters and you will also find us tweeting regularly. We analyse the latest legal developments and the impact they have on the profession. Our subscribers range from Top 100 firms to entrepreneurial SME law firms and sole practitioners.

We’re editorially independent and don’t have any political or industry bias. Although we don’t take sides, we aren’t frightened to speak out on issues when we need to –  objecting to the government’s legal aid reforms, both past and more recent, and voicing our opposition to the repeal of the Human Rights Act are two such examples.

Who do you want to hear from and what do you want to hear about?

We want to hear interesting stories from across the profession. These could be big client wins, the launch of a new department or innovative service, and new hires – especially new associates and partners. 

We’re also keen to profile senior and managing partners on how they are managing their businesses, particularly any best practice that they can share in these uncertain times for the sector. Given that our readers span the entire length and breadth of the profession, we want to interview people who are doing things differently and from whom our readers can learn. 

Firms that express a clear opinion on a developing story, rather than just paraphrasing the news, are always going to grab my attention. And of course, we always want tip-offs on juicy business gossip, but don’t worry, we will happily keep sources confidential. Just remember to tell us that that’s the case and you’ll be quoted as ‘a source’ or ‘a contact’.

What’s not news to you?

We definitely don’t want to hear about the installation of some off-the-shelf technology or new supplier relationship. It’s just not news. Instead, tell us about a case management system that’s been created in-house and is having a big impact on your firm: what were the challenges and what’s been the end result? Whether it’s been positive or negative, remember, we want to share best practice.

Likewise, someone speaking at an event is not news on its own, but we could be interested if you invite us along so that we can hear it first and if there is an opportunity to meet you and your clients. 

A press release that announces a win at a rival awards ceremony also won’t make it onto our news pages. We have the Solicitors Journal Awards and that is how we will judge a firm’s achievements.

Timeliness is important too, given the 24/7 news cycle. We can’t use comments that come too late. Generally, if we have already covered the news online, then it is too late to send us your comments unless you have a unique angle that can take the story forward again. That means checking what we have already published and not regurgitating something your peers have already sent us.

How and when should people get in touch with you?

We finalise our print edition on Friday so it’s not the best day to call, unless you have a breaking news story. If there is something, email me: john.vanderluit@solicitorsjournal.co.uk.

I read everything and check emails pretty much around the clock – much to my wife’s annoyance! If it’s important and of relevance, then we will do our best to cover it.

We appreciate all calls and emails, but please don’t call to let us know you are about to send a press release or call to ask if we’ve received it. Make sure your contact details are included in press releases and we’ll be in touch if we need to find out more.

What’s your one bug bear when firms approach you?

Firms afraid to have an opinion. I totally understand that some will want to be pragmatic and others need to be relatively conservative. Although we’re not looking for ‘click bait’ comments or headlines, there still needs to be something tangible in your press releases that will stop our readers in their tracks and perhaps make them think differently about an issue. 

We genuinely want to find out about the implications of new developments for clients and firms. We receive many comments but some don’t go far enough in highlighting the effects that some changes – such as those coming to the PI market – are likely to have on the public and our readers. That can be frustrating. 

What is your view on the PI reforms?

I previously worked as a paralegal in a law firm’s PI team and have experienced the industry first-hand. I’ve advised claimants on their cases, and liaised with insurers too. 

It’s clear that there will be challenges ahead and many PI firms will need to diversify their services – and quite quickly given the October 2018 implementation deadline – to find some way to turn a profit. 

What has become clear is that generally lawyers aren’t lobbying strongly enough. They lack the ‘one voice’ lobbying of the insurance industry, which is mainly represented by the ABI and the CII. Yes, the legal profession has had some lobbying successes – immigration tribunal fees and putting pressure on the previous justice secretary to scrap the criminal courts charge to name two – but these are in the minority. 

It has become clear that when the government has changes in sight for the justice system it will push them through. The challenge for lawyers is to get better at lobbying – and maybe take a lesson or two from insurers.