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Minnesota Law & Politics: It’s over

Last night I wondered if Minnesota Law & Politics would survive Key Professional Media’s sale of SuperLawyers to Thomson Reuters. This morning, publisher Bill White sent me the bad news: they’re done.

Couple things before I get to Bill’s note:

I wrote for L&P on and off over the years, and while the mag was no threat to win a Pulitzer, it was remarkable for the freedom it gave writers and photographers and for the relentless mirth on its pages. It’s doom and gloom everywhere in the traditional media world these days, but Bill, longtime editor Steve Kaplan, executive editor Adam Wahlberg and photographer Larry Marcus are all mensches of the first order, and managed to make folks smile without being nasty about it. Their publication’s spirit will be especially missed in the current climate.

Here’s Bill:

Twenty years ago this month, Steve Kaplan and I put together the first issue of Minnesota Law & Politics magazine thinking we would be lucky if the magazine lasted three issues. It’s been a fun ride and a labor of love. But now, I’m sad to say, the party is over for Law & Politics. The April/May issue will not be published.

Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, (which were both born on the pages of Law & Politics) will continue to be published here in Minnesota as well as the other 49 states plus DC. As you know by now, Super Lawyers (which includes Rising Stars) was acquired by Thomson Reuters on February 1. We are thrilled with the acquisition. The transaction is the ultimate validation of Super Lawyers as the leading lawyer rating service in the country. Super Lawyers is a perfect fit for Thomson.

Law & Politics was not part of the sale to Thomson and is still owned by Key Professional Media. The decision to discontinue publication was made entirely by the management of Key and not by Thomson.

With photographer Larry Marcus, we’ve created some outrageous and memorable covers: They’ve featured a “Buck’” naked politician, lawyers bungee jumping, Senators taking a wide stance in bathroom stalls, and of course, there have been the parody covers: of Cosmo (“20 Great Summer Looks for the Courtroom”), Calvin Klein ads, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (Our sizzling hot law suit issue), Norman Rockwell and Reno 911.

Every year for two decades, Steve Kaplan has presented you with our annual Turkeys of the Year, celebrating the best of the worst. And in each issue I’ve had the opportunity to share the mundane and quirky occurrences of my life on the back page column, All Seriousness Aside. We’ve always tried to create a magazine that lived up to its slogan,“Only our name is boring.” For us, this job has been more fun than work.

Regarding the three of us: Adam will move over to Thomson Reuters as editor of Super Lawyers; I will serve on an advisory board for Thomson and will be employed by Key to help out during the transition period, as will Steve. In the meantime, we’re talking to people, weighing our options, and dreaming up the next venture.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Adam Minter on 02/03/2010 - 10:43 am.

    Just how great are/were the guys at L&P? They would insist on taking me to lunch when I came to town even AFTER I stopped writing for them on a regular basis, just for the purpose of catching up and having some laughs (at good restaurants, to boot). Find me another group of editors who’d do that.

    Steve Kaplan remains the truest gentleman to ever occupy an editor’s chair. I owe my magazine career, in large part, to him.

  2. Submitted by Christy DeSmith on 02/03/2010 - 11:15 am.

    So sad! I’ll especially miss the zany L&P covers. Most memorable: their conceal-and-carry cover with Neal Karlen dressed as Barney Fife, the recent one that channeled Reno 911 for a cover story on the Metro Gang Strike Force.

  3. Submitted by Christine Mlodzik on 02/03/2010 - 11:36 am.

    NOOOO!! Excuse me for my knee-jerk reaction to the headline, but this is a sad day in publishing and for readers like myself. I started reading ML&P in 1995 and eventually subscribed. I’m not in the legal profession, nor involved in politics, but I am a fan of their quality, and irreverent, writing – and of their cheeky covers (if you haven’t seen it, check out the December/January cover featuring Metro Gang Strike Force 911! if you don’t believe me). ML&P, you’ll be sorely missed and you were right, only your name was boring.

  4. Submitted by Judd Spicer on 02/03/2010 - 11:46 am.

    Damn! “Mench” could not have been more aptly stated, good sir. Mr. Minter’s sentiments are no doubt extended herein. These fellas have long extended both my words (and palate) the greatest degree of respect. Wahlberg, Kaplan and White are the epitome of class & cool. I extend all my thanks and appreciation for every opportunity they provided over the years. Menches, indeed.

  5. Submitted by Dan Forester on 02/03/2010 - 11:50 am.

    Bill gave me my first job in magazine publishing and the L&P office was a great place to work – fun, great conversations, real camaraderie. Plus, like the first commenter said, they’d take me out to good restaurants for lunch, and the company was top-notch. I’d never would have had the chance to talk about Yeats with Sen. Eugene McCarthy if I hadn’t worked at L&P.

    Here’s an example of Bill’s sense of humor: when a (now former) boss of mine called him for a reference prior to hiring me, Bill – not missing a beat – says: “Dan Forester? Do you know where he is? He owes me money!”

    Thanks, guys!

  6. Submitted by Tim Broeker on 02/03/2010 - 11:51 am.

    Man, the end of an era. When I was a nobody fresh out of journalism school Steve Kaplan was the first editor to take a real chance on me. This was shortly before Key arrived on the scene with boatloads of money, and I remember waiting months and months for payments. (They once sent half of a check with promises of more to follow soon.) But I was seduced and Steve opened some magic doors for me. I owe him a lot for letting me in, and I’m guessing there are dozens more like me.

    I’ve lost touch recently but I was privileged to work with the Three Amigos on-and-off over the course of many years and wish all of them the best: To Bill, a true visionary and one of the funniest men alive. To Steve, a true mensch with a heart of gold. And to Adam, a gentle man with a punk rock soul. Here’s to you guys, sad to see you go. If there is a final L&P blowout I’d better get an invite!

  7. Submitted by Alison Rice on 02/03/2010 - 01:12 pm.

    Nothing can ever replace L&P.

  8. Submitted by Martin Kuz on 02/03/2010 - 01:37 pm.

    Talk about a punch to the gut. Not to mention the head and heart. Religious metaphor alert: Adam, Steve and Bill are the generous, good-natured trinity of Twin Cities journalism, and L&P has been the gospel through which they’ve spread the word that hilarious covers, thoughtful storytelling, sharp wit and just the right amount of back-page poignancy can coexist within the same publication. This day sucks. L&P is dead, long live L&P. –30–

  9. Submitted by Michael Maupin on 02/03/2010 - 02:23 pm.

    A memory I will never forget: Wednesday Sept. 3, 2008. Executive editor Adam Wahlberg, Editor-in-chief Steve Kaplan and I met with writer Bill Holm at Louise Klas’ home in St. Paul, just prior to our visit to the RNC that evening (when Sarah Palin spoke). I’ll never forget Bill’s stories of his recent return from Iceland, and his assessment of the current state of politics—”we need more muckrakers!” It was a lovely afternoon. Word is we will be going ahead with our 20th anniversary celebration in April, so stay tuned dear readers. We promise it won’t be boring.

  10. Submitted by Meggan Ellingboe on 02/03/2010 - 04:51 pm.

    I was completely surprised and sad upon hearing this news. These three guys (Bill, Steve, and Adam) along with Ross Pfund are just fabulous people with big hearts, have great humor, and posses loads of talent. When I discontinued law school and was figuring out life, they gave me a paid internship so I could learn about publishing. They also helped me learn to write for fun again. I enjoyed learning from them and the rest of the great editorial staff. L&P’s intellect, wit and humor will be sorely missed!

  11. Submitted by Holly Dolezalek on 02/04/2010 - 09:56 am.

    This is a tragedy and it’s a sad commentary on the state of publishing. Law & Politics combined lightheartedness and substance in a way that few publications get to — or stick to even when they start out that way. Steve, Adam, and Bill are the most unpretentious, funny, real people I’ve ever met, and Steve and Adam gave me my start in writing when I wasn’t even done with school, and the clips I got while writing for them helped me to get my first job. The magazine scene will be a lot poorer without Law & Politics.

  12. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 02/04/2010 - 12:23 pm.

    Well – not to crap “dead” guys – but –

    A long time ago (10 years?) I offered a story on the Center of the American Experiment to L&P, which they jumped at publishing. When they did publish it it contained a “pre-buttal” from Mitch Pearlstein. Ever seen one of those before?

    After the story ran Mitch and his buddies ran a behind the scenes attack on the story and me, which turned up one small error (I said no board members of CAE gave political contributions to Dems, but I missed one, making the Reps to Dems contributions ratio more than 200 to 1 instead of 200 to 0).

    Pearlstein and his buddies were allowed to repeat their slurs in the next L&P but I was not allowed to respond, and Steve Kaplan himself upbraided me about the accuracy of the story, even though it was essentially unchallenged.

    Long story short – L&P then entered the story into a big local journalism contest, and lo and behold – it won! But they never even told me – I found out from someone else.

    So excuse me if I cry no tears for the end of the publication. BTW – no one – not one person – from L&P ever contacted me on the award, or apologized for their awful behavior.

  13. Submitted by Erik Lundegaard on 02/04/2010 - 01:51 pm.

    I’ve freelanced for dozens of editors over the years but Steve and Adam are the only ones big-hearted enough to actually offer me a job — and THEN they went about teaching me everything I needed to know about being an editor.

    Adam M, your “editor’s chair” sentence brought tears to my eyes. Tim, your description of Wahlberg is beautifully apt. Christy, my favorite cover remains either the five white guys celebrating law-firm diversity or the lemonade-stand Turkeys of the Year cover on the new gun law: “BILLY’S REFRESHMENTS LLC BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES.”

    Fun things happen when you’re around these guys. On successive days in the summer of 2004 I received phone calls from Karl Rove and Walter Mondale for an article I was writing for Steve. Thanks to L&P, I got to hear Sen. Barack Obama speak from 25 feet away at the 2006 DFL Convention. Thanks to Bill, I got to shag flyballs in left field at the Metrodome. Bill also told me one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard — about Steve leaving an L&P party 45 minutes west of the Twin Cities. I can’t do it justice. Bug him when you see him.

    Most editors crap on freelancers. These guys were, and remain, encouraging, outgoing, curious, serious and fun. FUN! Mensches, indeed. Thanks, MinnPost, for the forum.

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