Aric Press of Bernero & Press Discusses Law Firm Management

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I interviewed Aric Press of Bernero & Press about what sets apart average and above average law firms through client conversations and surveys. We also discussed the following: meeting global client demand, how the Am Law 100 and 200 is compiled and other questions about this ranking, Peter Kalis’ leadership, the competition and Axiom, ABA Resolution 105 and non-attorney ownership of law firms, Favorite Sports Teams, Aric’s heroes, his preferred podcasts, his bucket list, etc.

If you haven’t already, please leave a review on iTunes.

Links referred to in this episode

Aric Press’ Web Bio

Closing the Customer Feedback Loop by the Harvard Business Review 


The ABA Resolution 105

The American Lawyer 100, 200 & Global 100 

Peter Kalis of K&L Gates

New York Mets

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Cavaliers

Jack Greenberg

John Doar

Robert “Bobby” Kennedy

The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Awards

The New York Times

The Washington Post

The Wall Street Journal

Pardon the Interruption Podcast

Slate Cultural Gabfest Podcast

New York Times Weekly Book Review Podcast

The Axe Files with David Axelrod Podcast

Kai Ryssdal of

Subscribe to the Podcast

Audio Transcription

Chris: Welcome to the Law Firm Leadership podcast, I’m your host Chris Batz with The Lion Group.

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Aric Press of Bernero & Press. Aric Press is the former Editor in Chief of The American Lawyer having been at ALM Media for 16 years. He also spent almost 19 years as a writer and editor at Newsweek prior to ALM.

You mention Aric on your website that no other journalist, perhaps no other human being, has met with or watched more law firm and legal department leaders that you have. Now being that you’re post ALM you bring a fascinating perspective and market knowledge to being a law firm consultant with Wendy Bernero.

Welcome Aric to the Law Firm Leadership podcast, I’m delighted to have you as our guest.

Aric: Thank you Chris, it’s a pleasure to be with you.

What Sets a Law Firm Apart

Chris: Aric, let’s talk about a subject that you brought up prior to recording and you mentioned you’re seeing some trends with law firms, as far as what they’re doing right and maybe what they’re not doing right, their success and the stagnation of law firms, can you speak to that?

Aric: Yes, what I have in mind is I see regular reports and I’m called frequently by journalists and others, talking about the so-called flat legal market and how nothing is up and everything is flat, etc., etc., and a lot of hand-wringing.

What I notice when I unpack some of that data is that we’re talking about averages there and yes, on average the law firm, the world of big law firms demand seems to be flat or only up slightly, but if you look at individual firms what you see is that there are firms doing about average and other firms doing below average. There are firms that are as busy as they’ve ever been and there are other firms that are struggling mightily to make their way in the world.

What sets them apart, it seems to me, a bunch of things of course but primarily what sets them apart is the firms that are succeeding in what is admittedly a difficult and competitive environment is that one, the firms tend to be focused on what they do well and what the market thinks they do well and two, they are involved with their clients, they have an understanding of what their clients want, where their clients are headed, what services they can provide to their clients to make their lives easier or resolve pressing problems, as opposed to firms that are struggling more, that are not focuses, that are not sure who they are or where they want to be or are sure who they are but their certainly doesn’t match up with what their clients in the market in general may think of them.

So this is a time, I think, where members of the reality based community are going to succeed far better than those who are counting on the past or on hopes and dreams.

Intentional Client Dialogues

Chris: Aric, do you have the liberty of sharing some examples of maybe both sides?

Aric: Well, one thing that Wendy and I and my partners don’t do is talk specifically about any of our clients.

Chris: Okay.

Aric: So I can’t do that, but what I can tell you is that I go out into the market on a regular basis and I meet with law firm leaders who either on their own or through people such as myself, spend lots of time talking with their clients. They do formal interview programs, they go and meet with their peers; either Chief Legal Officers or CEOs, they ask questions, not just about how they’re doing but they ask questions about what others are doing, they ask questions about where their clients are headed and what they anticipate their needs are going to be.

This all seems rather basic but the fact is that not all firms do this and it’s remarkable to me. I sit with general counsel who talk about how they have these annual luncheons with partners who come by, with so-called relationship partners who come by to check in once a year or once every 18 months, you know, to see what things are like and whether, these general counsels say, they’re having a substantive conversation, too often it’s a conversation that’s, you know, “How about the Red Sox?” And that’s not hugely helpful to a way busy client.

One general counsel told me that he had to cease control of this meeting to lay out what his agenda might be, what was bothering him, both about the relationship with the law firm but more importantly about the needs that he was being pressured to fulfill by his business partners as his Fortune 200 company.

So these are busy people who appreciate being asked about what’s on their mind and how their lives can be made easier, and the amazing thing is that it doesn’t happen more often. It does happen in other lines of business, it does happen with other professional services organizations for reasons that are both obvious and mystifying, lawyers and law firms seem to have some difficulty having these conversations with their customers and in this time, where there is some evidence of a lack of tenure, it seems like a mistake not to work more closely with their customer base.

Client Follow Up & Feedback

Chris: When you say work more closely, you mention an annual frequency, what are other industries doing, what do you recommend, is there something, work with your clients or try to set up?

Aric: Look, this is perhaps in inapt example, but I haven’t taken a plane and I travel a lot, I haven’t bought something of some significance where within 48 hours I’m not being asked for, by phone or email by the service provider, how they did, what did I think of their service, what could they do better, etc. It’s almost, in some cases it’s almost an annoyance and that’s for a $500 plane ticket or a $1000 visit to a car dealership. If you’re spending $500,000 on a law firm who you regard as potentially a trusted advisor, one would think that at the end of that engagement, to say nothing of along the way, there would be a conversation, either between the relationship partner or the head of the law firm or an outside consultant such as myself sent in to take a temperature, as to how well the service provider provided their services and what could they do better.

Chris: You know, and in some industries I’ve heard this as kind of a feedback loop, is that correct?

Aric: Yes, a feedback loop would then not only lead to information about how you did on the past project and opportunities for new projects but presumably, if you’re paying attention and behaving in a mindful way, you’re learning about your process and how your client perceives it and you might make an improvement as issues are identified of what you could do better or what you could do faster, what’s not understood, that’s rich data. We hear a lot about big data, big data has its place perhaps but for lawyers and their clients, nothing is richer, more valuable than understanding what your customer really appreciated, really needs and really liked or didn’t.

Chris: Aric, are you saying that this might be one of the single most important things law firms are doing to continue winning success with their clients?

Aric: Well, performing high quality legal services is probably the most important thing they can do, but that is largely taken as a given.

Chris: Yeah.

Aric: No client I’ve met doubts that the lawyers they’re using are adequate or more than adequate to any task at hand. If that’s a problem the lawyer has a real problem, but beyond that they might have talked about service and their needs and how they want to have their needs met and yes, that is a very important aspect to getting and deepening relationships with important clients.

Focus on Key Practice Areas

Chris: When you talk about kind of the flat line of growth or improvement among law firms, you do see firms maybe implementing this and they have a much different trajectory than you mentioned of stagnation. Is there anything besides kind of this feedback loop that is or isn’t happening that you would speak to?

Aric: Let’s think about the world as we know it. It is growing more complex, there seems to be no shortage of regulation or new efforts by regulators to enforce them. Despite the talk of the election we’re not about to become an American only commercial operation. Our businesses are operating across borders and in jurisdictions that 20, 30 years ago they never dreamt of.

So across the board, in a more complex, more regulated, more international, more cross-border, cross-jurisdiction world, it would seem to me that demand, the need for appropriate legal help far from shrinking would be increasing and if that’s true then the question becomes, who is leading that demand?

Now, sometimes that work is going in-house, some corporations have the ability to get more work out of their in-house departments. Sometimes that work is going to new providers or the legal process outsourcers or the accounting firms, particularly outside the United States, yes and yes. But in fact, there is a need for this work to get done and the firms that understand the work that needs to get done and what their clients…

Forgive me, I’m laughing at myself a little but I’m seeing things that are painfully obvious, if you are going to focus on anything it would seem to me that firms would want to focus on two things; their strongest practices and secondly their strongest practices that fulfill the needs of their clients and it’s not just a feedback, it’s a kind of virtuous circle in which you provide something that the market wants to buy and the market wants to buy it and you provide it. I’m not sure whether the chicken or the egg comes first but you work on understanding both ends simultaneously. Am I being clear?

Chris: Yes, absolutely. I mean obviously I’d agree with you that this is how business works, it’s someone needing something, someone providing it and making sure that both relationships are being met in the way it should be.

Axiom and their Competition

Let me pivot a little bit because you did bring up the notion of competition and definitely outside of the US market there is unique competition. I mean, you have the ABS, I think that’s correct, yeah ABS in the UK, Alternative Business Structures, you have public accounting firms, you have perpetrated law firms, you have companies like Axiom shaking up the market. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Aric: Well, Axiom for one is a fascinating and as best I can tell, successful experiment in finding a gap in the corporate legal market and filling it. Filling it initially with highly talented and motivated part-time lawyers who could be hired either directly by clients or by law firms to fill particular needs and then secondly as an agency that could take on entire tasks for corporate clients, from beginning to end, as a kind of outsource subcontractor to the legal department or another department within the company.

So Axiom has been a great success and there are some question as to where it would rank, if it were a law firm where it would rank in the Am Law 200 or NLJ 350 with growth revenues of more than $200 million, it would be well up there in the Am Law Second Hundred nets quite an achievement.

Another interesting question about Axiom though is whether others would be able to follow it and why others haven’t been able to follow it at their size and scale that Axiom has so far achieved? I don’t know the answer to that frankly. There’s a whole host of legal process outsourcers out there, many of them focusing on e-discovery and due diligence work. There’s a whole host of temp lawyer or contract lawyer providers but for the most part they’re not doing the sort of sophisticated work that Axiom is doing, and clearly has a remarkably talented leadership cadre, whether it’s the proverbial unicorn or whether others will be able to successfully copy it at real scale, you know, really remains to be seen.

What’s curious about the absent of others watching to follow Axiom at that size is that it’s allowed a variety of law firms, both in the US and the UK to open their own experimental offices where they provide services at lower rates, but with back offices arranged in second or tertiary cities and attempting to meet client needs and attempting to fight off the advent of the new models.

The problem with the new models is that so much is expected of them that they need more time, they need the ability frankly for some of them to fail. The thing is going to take a little while to work itself out. Clearly though, for the non-brain surgery work there is room for these firms in the market and clients will take the opportunity to work with them directly. Whether there’s ever going to be enough of them and in such mass that they’re going to topple a significant number of the major elite law firms in the US or around the world, at this point that’s a little hard to foresee.

Chris: For certain and I know a lot of law firm leaders, some of them are probably paying attention to what’s happening here, but it’s not about the company cases, but it’s been rumored that Axiom is going after larger scale deals, doing full on M & A transactions. So it’s curious to see to what end do they hit a ceiling where they’re fully competing with the white-shoe firms of New York.

Aric: We’ll see. I think that there will always be room for the elite firms of New York and the other major money centers. It’s hard to imagine them being toppled, whether they actually can become one of them, that’s a pretty big leap, let’s see what happens.

Chris: Yeah.

Clever and Prepared Law Firms

Aric: One of the things that we understand here and coming out of legal journalism I please guilty to it, is that this is a market, for all the talk about change etc., it doesn’t change that much, it hasn’t been disrupted the way publishing or the record industry or entertainment or even taxi cabs has been, therefore whenever there’s a sign of change, however far out on the margin it might be, there is a whole lot of hooting and hollering; conferences are arranged, new newsletters are created, “The end is near,” shrieks go out, “The sky is falling, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!”

Things are happening and things will continue to happen and the advent of artificial intelligence, which we’re just at the beginning of, will make some profound changes and the ways in which LPAs and law firms are rearranging and configuring the way they’re using their talent, will bring changes. But unlike some other businesses, the law firm world is adapting more slowly because it’s had the privilege of adapting more slowly in part because their clients, for the most part, are not legal market revolutionaries, they’re business executives and business lawyers who have problems on their desks that they need solved. Yes, they’d like them solved more efficiently, yes they’d like them solved more inexpensively if possible but fundamentally they want them solved.

So the really clever law firms with be the ones that can not only solve the problems but also will find ways to perform their tasks more efficiently, thereby rewarding both the client with more value in their bills and their partners with continuing high profit margins.

ABA Resolution 105 and Non-Attorney Ownership

Chris: Yeah. Aric, let me throw another question at you and it’s a trend that has come up since the UK has allowed the ABS legislation to come through. Have you been tracking or following the ABA Resolution 105 for private ownership of law firms?

Aric: I’m not aware of number 105, I’m aware of what the ABA is doing but forgive me, I don’t know what 105 refers to.

Chris: That’s okay, I think it’s their governing body of documentation and legislation I guess, to try to have a discussion around the idea of allowing private ownership of law firms. I’m curious what your thoughts are on that.

Aric: Well, my thoughts are that absent, either a federal legislation of some kind or a remarkable sea change in the 10 largest states in the country, I think it will be a non-starter.

Chris: It’s fascinating to see, do you think it will actually require federal regulation?

Aric: No, I don’t think it will require it, and in fact it would be controversial to have federal legislation, but the 50 states regulate the practice of law within their boundaries and getting those 50 states to agree on almost anything individually could take a very long time, longer than either you or I might have.

I mean, the interesting problem of the large firms, which nearly all of which, but not all of them, operate in more than one state, what would they do with their Chicago office if Illinois goes one way on that and New York on another? Which is why there have been discussions, mostly in private, about the possibility of getting the congress involved, which again seems like quite a…

Chris: A stretch.

Aric: Quite a stretch. Whether there’s going to be an appetite on the part of the large corporate firms to take outside investment, again remains to be seen. I remember well the enthusiasm before Arthur Anderson blew up and the accountants were beginning to bang the drums of having global law practices and some day attempting to get the rules changed in the States and get some big globally based firms. There were, in some executive committees, some interesting conversations about, could they go the way of the great investment banks and somehow, one way or another sell out or go public or take outside money? Those conversations came to a screeching halt with the Enron disaster and the collapse of Arthur Anderson.

It’s been well more than a decade, the accountants are back being interested, whether or not we’ll get to see it in this country, I think is very hard, I don’t even think it’s an open question, I think it’s extremely unlikely.

The one area where having outside money, public money, private investor money, coming into the private practice of law that might be helpful would be to extend legal services to those who currently can’t afford it on the theory that that the American consumer is waiting for is an inch in our block like creation for legal services. That would require intense investment in both technology and real estate that probably would require money coming from outside the pockets of the individual lawyers involved. But again, I’m skeptical if we’ll see it but that’s just one man’s opinion.

Questions about the Am Law Rankings

Chris: Yes, I just appreciate your insight, I know you’ve been watching the legal industry for several years so curious. You bring up the accountants and the opportunism that they see, I think it leads to another question I’ve wanted to ask you about ever since I thought about, considering having you on the podcast, the ALM or ALM Media, The American Lawyer has always been equated with the Am Law 100, Am Law 200, National Law Journal 350, it’s now the 500, The Global 100, I mean these are rankings that, for better or for worse, has had significant influence on the industry and I know when we were talking earlier that you weren’t a part of the genesis of it at the beginning, but I have a lot of questions around it.

While you were there, as far as Editor in Chief, were you a part of overseeing the collection of that data?

Aric: Yes, that was certainly part of my responsibility and I was the guy who took the Am Law 100 and made it the Am Law 200.

Chris: Did you? Okay.

Aric: And helped invent The Global 100 rankings. It seemed like natural extensions of the Am Law 100 which is lost now to the pages of history which started at the Am Law 50.

Chris: Going to the 200, was that met with open arms? Were firms resistant to doing that?

Aric: Some were, others were quite delighted to find a way to be recognized by a national publication, it gave them some bragging rights, may have helped a little bit with recruiting, it certainly helped regional firms be more prominent in their regions.

Getting Comfort with Law Firm Numbers

Chris: Aric, I think you may know this, I’ve got a public accounting background and was an auditor, how do you guys get comfort around the accuracy of those numbers?

Aric: Well one way we get comfort is, over the years we’ve compared them with the numbers that have been given to our clients at Citibank. Citibank doesn’t get numbers from all 200 firms but they get them from, I forget now, 130 or 140 of them and they don’t share which 130, 140 are their participants in their survey but it’s a good sample and what we found consistently, both publicly and privately, is that in most of the categories the numbers were within 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5% of each other.

So the one area, that would be for gross revenue, head counts, revenue per lawyer, contribution per lawyer, value per lawyer, the one area where there was controversy, I imagine there might continue to be, would be the number of profits per partner and there was real difference there, although the majority of the numbers were again within 5% of each other, but there was significant difference there with some firms. Partly that was because The American Lawyer and Citi did not have the same definition of equity partner and partly, I suspect, it was because people of key firms chose to mislead The American Lawyer, most notably the old Dewey law firm.

Chris: Right.

Aric: Just one example. So there is a limit to our ability, or their ability to check these numbers. You could call a lot of people and attempt to pin them down, but the really compelling point is how relatively few of the numbers were challenged and how upright and honorable most of the firms were about most of the categories.

Require an Audit of Law Firms?

Chris: I know that the law firm industry obviously not regulated by the SEC and it’s kind of self-regulating, the ABA has some influence, obviously quite a bit at different times, but was it ever considered an option to put out there a requirement for audit?

Aric: Well, that would be as likely to happen as giving journalists subpoena power, this problem could all go away with that. There was an issue, at some point various people suggested that, both internally and externally, that Am Law go to a system of designating which firms cooperated or which firms gave us numbers that they would confirm with an independent audit and there were some that did that. We chose not to do that because the numbers are gathered either from cooperating firms who just simply turn over the numbers, or from firms that don’t cooperate and the reporters have to go out and report the numbers as best they can.

Thank god sometimes there were unhappy spouses who were involved in divorce cases, but there is a third category of those that cooperates but prefers for their own reasons, and I never quite understood the reasons fully, to not acknowledge that they cooperated. So were the magazine to begin to mark who’s cooperating and who’s not, we’d either have to out people, they would have to out people to your outer source essentially, or lie to the reader and put somebody’s cooperating in the non-cooperating category. So it just seemed like an impossible position, both with the magazine and the firms involved, so we concluded that we would not do that.

In the methodology that The American Lawyer used to publish and I assume still does, it was very clear that some firms cooperated and other firms were based on estimates, it wasn’t the same as a filing with the SCC and it is what it is.

Other Types of Measurements

Chris: Interesting, so as other types of measurements came up for discussion to try to get information from the firms, I mean, you guys don’t have any balance sheet information and I think that’s a pretty curious piece of information for people to know about, as other measurements come up for discussion.

Aric: Well, over the years there’s been a variety of additional measures that have come along, related to the spread between the highest paid, the lowest paid partner, the number of hours highest and lowest, a variety of things like that, which when we would ask for this information, when I was still with The American Lawyer, we weren’t sure who would get it and to our delight a fair number of firms would cooperate but fewer would cooperate… the more questions that were asked, the more categories of information that were requested, the fewer firms would cooperate as we went along. So there’s a point of diminishing returns.

You know, it’s interesting to me, it’s somewhat unpredictable what firms will talk about. When research was done into funded and unfunded pension plans, there was some amazement in the number of firms that would talk about their situation and some disappointment in the number of firms who would cooperate with other things but wouldn’t talk about that. So it’s a little hard to predict and now that I’m on the other side and talking with firm leaders as their aid and confidant, not as a reporter or editor and occasional tormentor, I can understand the swirl of forces that are impinging on their ability to answer otherwise innocent and interesting questions, both from us, not us, no longer us, both from people and survey jockeys and a whole variety of places.

Chris: So you get to see the other side, which is shedding light into your world.

Aric: It is just amazing, I mean it will come as no surprise to you, but it’s just amazing how much more candid my conversations are now that I’m no longer in publishing.

Chris: I can imagine it’s a lot more candid.

Aric: Yeah, and I appreciate it.

Peter Kalis and K&L Gates

Chris: Yeah I can imagine. So, I’m curious about and I know you know who this individual is I’m about to mention, he’s no longer the Chairman of K&L Gates but Peter Kalis lead an interesting line of leadership for just kind of whole disclosure of financials, I’m curious on your take on that.

Aric: Well I have great admiration for Pete and Pete did a wonderful job at K&L Gates. I think what he was trying to do with his annual reports, were on the whole was a positive step forward, as I told them at the time, my only complaint was that he wasn’t as comfortable taking some questions about some of the annual report as I would have wished. But you know, it was an interesting effort and one that had largely not been followed.

Chris: Yeah and it would seem like that would be a further interest. I mean, we noticed that no one else kind of followed his leadership, he was kind of a lone voice for transparency and as you said, maybe not a whole lot of response to questions but at least it was out there.

Aric: It was out there and Pete deserves enormous credit for taking seriously the opportunities of being a leader of one of the 10 largest firms in the world and using his influence to try to advance the conversation, both for the good of the law firm and the general legal community. I mean, from his vantage point, and I think correctly so, he had a story to tell about his firm and their remarkable growth and success over the prior 10 years and this was another way for him to get that message out and he used it. It wasn’t an entirely selfless act, nor should it have been.

Chris: It definitely shouldn’t and I know his leadership will be missed, he had a real public facing image.

Aric: Yeah.

Chris: Putting yourself out there is never easy to do, so I know he’ll be missed for that.

Aric: Pete’s only public flaw was his ardor for the Stealers.

Chris: For the Stealers?

Aric: Yes.

Favorite Sports Teams

Chris: Well, I guess leave me to ask you a question, who were you rooting for this past week?

Aric: I’m originally from Cleveland, I’ve never seen the Cleveland baseball team, I’ve never seen The Tribe win a world series, I’m not sure I ever will, but it was wonderful that they played as well as they did and if they had to lose to anyone I’m glad they had to lose to The Cubs.

Chris: Yeah.

Aric: But to be honest, I’m tired of them losing and I’d just like to see them win.

Chris: Yeah, well maybe they’ll do what The Royals did and take it next year.

Aric: That would be sensational, I would rather not be one of those people at age 90 photographed in The New York Times being wheeled into a baseball game in the hopes that I can see Cleveland win before my last breath is taken.

Chris: Yeah, it was amazing to see how many people were doing that. So knowing that you’re not in Ohio anymore, in your backyard who do you root for?

Aric: Oh, in baseball I root for Cleveland and I have a little bit of affection for The Mets. Being an original American the fans are rooting for The Yankees but I admire their record, it’s just impossible.

Chris: Are you a football fan as well, are there other sports of interest?

Aric: If the Browns played football I would be rooting for them, but I prefer to think about The Cavaliers.

Personal Heroes

Chris: Okay, so basketball. Well let me jump to another question, this is a little more personal, Aric, I mean you’ve seen a lot, you’ve worked for two major publications, media companies, and now you’re kind of on the other side of the table on relationship with clients, who’s inspired you to do all of this, do you have any heroes?

Aric: Do I have any heroes?

Chris: Yeah.

Aric: In my current role I have friends who were consultants working with law firms before I got into this work and I admired what they did, but because I’m a little grown up to have heroes, I don’t think of any of my consultant models as heroic. In terms of heroes in the world I always admired, for a long time admired people like Jack Greenberg who just died who succeeded Thurgood Marshall as the head of the NAACP, the Legal Defense Fund and John Doar who died a few years ago who, when he was in the Justice Department helping to run the Civil Rights Division in Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department long, long ago, risked his life going out into the streets of the segregated South, separating and demonstrators and those who were wishing them harm, personally by putting his physical presence between them.

Those are people who I deeply admire and it was a great privilege when I was at The American Lawyer and we had a Lifetime Achievement Award celebrations, to hand each of them a Lifetime Achievement Award. They were the best examples of what lawyers could do for the commonweal and for the republic. I have great admiration and regard, their work is heroic, the men and women of the Am Law 200 who do vast amounts of public service, of pro bono work at a time when it isn’t always encouraged and is certainly not commercially accumulative but they feel that they are part of a profession that is, not only learned but has an obligation to the fellow citizens to behave in a positive way and a constructive way, extending the rule of law to those who otherwise can’t afford it. Those people, both those I know and those who are nameless who do everything from death penalty work to sitting in adoption clinics to helping to run asylum cases for the refugees in our midst, those are the heroes at the bar and I’m privileged to have known many of them and it’s an honor to have written about some of them and to admire their work close up and from afar.

Chris: Yeah, truly important to honor them and grateful for the law firms allowing them to give back, truly grateful.

Consuming Content

Aric, for you, how are you consuming content these day? Are you a, like to have paper in your hands, a newspaper reader, do you listen to podcasts or do audio books?

Aric: Well, all of the above. I continue to have a New York Times delivered to my house but I’m also as likely to, because I’m on the road a good deal, to be reading The Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal online or on my handheld I read The New Yorker and The Atlantic, but even though the paper copy is coming, I’m mostly reading them on my iPhone.

Books, serious books I find it easier to read on paper. Entertainment I read on my Kindle. I listen probably more faithfully than I should to podcasts late at night when I’m too tired to read, it’s a way for me to keep up with what’s going on in the sports and cultural worlds.

Chris: Any of those titles you care to voice, any books or authors or podcasts you care to give name to?

Aric: Oh, well there’s a wonderful sports’ talk show that ESPN does that they put out as a podcast called Pardon the Interruption, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. It’s funny and smart and helps keep me up to date.

There’s a Slate political podcast once a week that I get a kick out of. There’s a Slate Cultural Gabfest podcast that’s quite good. The New York Times Weekly Book Review podcast is very good as well. Those are the ones I listen to regularly. David Axelrod, the former Obama advisor and political consultant is now out at the University of Chicago and he brings a bunch of politicians and journalists and consultants to Chicago to talk to students and manages to get them on a podcast about an hour a week and I find that quite entertaining and intriguing, he’s had some excellent folks on.

That’s a reasonable list. I subscribe, I download others but don’t have the time generally to listen.

Bucket List

Chris: Aric, I tend to ask every person I’m interviewing this question, what are some items, maybe left on your bucket list?

Aric: Well, I’d love to go to India. I’d love to break 90 on a golf course and if I’m lucky enough I’d like to see my grandchildren graduate from college.

Chris: And career wise, if you weren’t a journalist and you’re not a consultant, say for law firms, what else would you do, money is not an object?

Aric: Well, I loved being a journalist. I went to law school and was a member of The New York Bar but found no reason to practice, America didn’t need another average lawyer I thought. I love to bake bread, you know. Maybe I’d be a bread baker.

Chris: A bread baker? Okay, yeah I like that. So my final question and it comes from Kai Ryssdal of In five words or less Aric, what is your job or what do you do?

Aric: Five words or less. Not sure I can do it in five words but, I help lawyers and law firms meet the needs of their clients.

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