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Evolving with our readers

You may notice some subtle changes to our magazine this month. We have redesigned Canadian Lawyer in print and made some adjustments to the editorial. While we welcome feedback about these changes, both good or bad, I wanted to explain our rationale to help inform your opinion.

We survey our audience on a yearly basis, and more than half of our readers told us they still prefer to read our content in print. We know our online audience is growing at a rapid pace, but we also heard the message that print still matters. For me, reading a long feature or thoughtful opinion in print is often a better experience, where constant distractions and back-lit screens are absent.

The main goal of our redesign was simple: to make our journalism clean and easy to read. We know lawyers spend a disproportionate amount of time reading through dense documents and information, so we wanted to ensure that reading Canadian Lawyer did not add to, but instead provided relief from, the onslaught.

As our art director Bill Hunter explained to me, the design focuses on guiding the reader through the magazine, with the use of icons to help identify what section of the book you are in. Good design, like good writing, is often meant to “get out of the way” of the information, but it can also subtly guide the reader through the reading process to make it more enjoyable.

We are also not claiming to be unique in our approach. We took inspiration from magazines we know our readers like, such as The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, The Economist and the Harvard Business Review, as well as other magazines that present information in a simple, creative and organized way, such as Fast Company and Monocle.

Finally, we have also adjusted the frequency of some writers and added new voices. Philip Slayton will continue to offer his authoritative voice with his Legal Ethics column, and Jim Middlemiss will be providing his insights to our readers about the business of law starting in our October issue.

We have opened up our Back Page column to a diversity of voices, including some of our website columnists who have been engaging our audiences online. I encourage all kinds of lawyers with new voices to contact me with their interesting and timely opinions for future issues.

In this issue, we hear from Naomi Sayers, an Indigenous lawyer who was recently called to the bar, about her unfortunate experiences with the Law Society of Ontario. It highlights how a requirement that sounds benign on its face — the need to be of “good character” — can often have a discriminatory impact on marginalized groups and how the legal profession is still ill prepared to deal with this.

As our cover story on privacy makes clear, the online world is getting increasingly complicated and unruly. While it is always a good idea to stay current and informed, sometimes, traditions are worth keeping. Reading on paper is one of those traditions that I don’t think should become obsolete quite yet. If you agree, we hope our subtle changes have made the experience a bit more pleasurable.