Every magazine issue, I inevitably glance over the Letters to the Editors text: an invitation for our readers and contributors to critically engage with us and the articles we publish. Sadly, we get much fewer such letters than I’d like. Still, today I realized that – while they might not start with the customary Dear Editor – we do get a large number of emails that would fit the bill.
So, I thought I’d share those recurring conversations with everyone, to showcase that we do hear you, and share our resulting thought processes. Frequently Asked Questions for the Editors, a FAQE letter to the editors, if you will:
Why did you change my name / the name of my law firm / the client’s name? We cannot use non-English characters in print or online. The CEE region is linguistically diverse, and we know it’s suboptimal to change names – but for consistency and ease of processing, we’re sticking to one language (US English). I hope you’ll agree with us that the small inconsistencies produced in translation are preferable to the inevitable mistakes that would occur when non-native speakers are processing 20-plus different alphabets and languages.
Why can’t we spell the firm’s name / the client’s name in all capital letters? Leaving aside that we don’t like shouting at our readers, because that’s not how the language works. While branding materials can create and follow their own rules, printed text is simple: names start with capital letters unless they are an acronym. Acronyms are all capitals. Compound names (containing two or more words) might have each original word capitalized.
Can you refer to me by first name in the article/interview? We could, but we decided we shouldn’t a long time ago. You know us, we’re a friendly bunch, and we address everyone by their first name in our communications. For our articles, we feel using last names is a good balance between being formal (Mr. Cotarcea) and striking too friendly a tone (Radu). Not to mention first name doubles are a lot more frequent than people’s last names being the same (the sad case of the CEELM Editors team).
Can I see the final article/interview before publishing? No, we just don’t have the timeslot in our process for an additional confirmation conversation – especially if we were to incorporate conflicting requests from different contributors last minute. Longer Answer: we always point out when your (written) notes or answers need to be confirmed for publishing. After that point, we might work on that content (to clarify, shorten, or streamline) but we’ll not change any of its meaning. That is, ultimately, an Editor’s job. If ever you’re unhappy with the results, please call us on it.
Who else is contributing to the piece? No, we just can’t share that info (and spoil the surprise). You’ll just have to find out, along with everyone else, once the magazine is published.
Why did you change that bit of my text? Why can’t I use lists, bullet points, or references? Same answer to both: because we try to feature insightful articles, rather than dry recitations and compilations of legal texts. We don’t want our magazine to be extra work – where you need to grab the odd legal text in order to understand a point. As such, we’d like our experts to process the information themselves – and distill it into insights – rather than leave that job to our readers.
Why do you need another photo? This one looks fine to me. The resolution needed for print quality is much higher. But it is not ridiculous: usually, a 1-megabyte photo will do (something that any semi-modern phone can take if you are really scrambling).
Why do we have to have a Partner or Head of Practice as the author? As said above, we like featuring legal experts and their insights, so this is a good rule of thumb. We understand you might have a brilliant Senior Associate you want to put forward: we’ll still need the firm’s stamp of approval for that content, and that usually comes from a Partner or HoP – the same as your clients usually expect. Also, give that person a promotion if they deserve it – we’ll happily cover the appointment.
I had this idea for an article I wanted to put forward. Would you like to publish it? Depends. In essence, the answer is always yes, but it comes with many caveats (related to space, timeliness, and opportunity costs). So please involve us in your thought process as early as you can (ideally, way before finalizing the draft) and we’ll do our best to align our objectives.