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Danny Jacobs: Help me serve you as the new TDR legal editor

I’m proud and excited to reintroduce myself to you, this time as The Daily Record’s new legal editor. It’s a position I never imagined for myself almost eight years ago when I joined the newspaper.

See, I originally applied to be a business writer. Business seemed like something I could handle; covering courts seemed very foreign and, honestly, a little intimidating. The editors at the time gave the business writer position to someone already on staff but I was told there might be another writing position opening up in the near future. That’s how I ended up interviewing for the Baltimore County legal reporter position.

Danny Jacobs is the new law editor of The Daily Record. (Maximilian Franz / The Daily Record)

Danny Jacobs is the new law editor of The Daily Record. (Maximilian Franz / The Daily Record)

“Do you have any legal experience?” I was asked.

I had done a few court-related stories in my previous job but never anything in-depth. But I said was from Baltimore County, so I should be able to figure out what’s newsworthy in the area and, more importantly, I was willing to learn whatever I needed to in order to become a legal reporter, much like I would dive head-first into any new beat.

And so I became a one-man Towson bureau. I spent days strolling the circuit courthouse, popping in on trials and hearings. I met lawyers and judges and masters, some of whom became sources and, even more important for a new reporter, valued sounding boards who didn’t mind taking a few extra minutes explaining a new legal concept to me.

That first year on the job, I volunteered to cover the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, primarily because it was in Ocean City. Now, there are people I look forward to seeing every June. (Sorry I couldn’t make it this year; my wife and I will do a better job of planning the birth of any future children.)

About attorneys, for attorneys

Since then, I’ve read through tens of thousands of pleadings and sat in on thousands of cases. I have wandered around the circuit courts in Baltimore and Rockville, but still like checking on cases and chatting with lawyers. It’s by building up relationships in the legal community that I have learned what you, the reader, think is important and what you want to read in The Daily Record. I love when I get a call about your latest verdict or when you file a lawsuit that you think I “might find interesting.” Chances are, our other readers will, too.

I view The Daily Record’s law coverage as news about attorneys for attorneys. We are not just going to tell you what the Court of Appeals decided, we are going to tell you what it might mean for your clients. We are not just going to tell you a motion has been filed in the Freddie Gray case — we are going to look at the underlying legal strategy and what it could mean looking ahead. You can get your news from a million sources. We want to be the one place you go for insight and for your daily, continuing legal education. That includes our rapidly growing database of unreported opinions from the Court of Special Appeals, featuring summaries of cases and descriptions of the legal issues involved.

And we will continue to bring the news to you however and whenever you choose to consume it. In my Towson bureau days, my biggest concern was having a story by 5 p.m. for the next day’s print edition. Now, our stories pop up on your smartphone and tablets throughout the day. We will continue to try to deliver news as fast as we can and through as many channels as we can while ensuring it meets our (and your) high editorial standards.

Evolving practices

Maryland’s legal community also continues to get more diverse in terms of gender, age, race and practice areas. I will try to meet with representatives from as many Bar associations and law organizations as I can to not only make sure you see there is a face behind our law coverage, but also to find out what you want to see in The Daily Record. I’m particularly interested in working with all of the young lawyers out there and make sure our coverage appeals to you beyond our Generation J.D. blog

Ultimately, I’d like for the diversity of our legal community to show up more frequently in our coverage. But we can’t do that without your help. So, if you have an interesting case or are trying to do business in a new way or heard an interesting tip in your travels, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or our writers. Steve Lash covers the state appellate courts and federal appellate courts when applicable to Maryland issues; Lauren Kirkwood covers the business of law. We all keep an eye out for those interesting lawsuits, filings and verdicts I mentioned above – as well as the stories behind them.

I’m honored to be The Daily Record’s new legal editor and look forward to building on my time covering the law in Maryland.

 

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