ALM Properties, Inc.
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Hands On the Wheel
We have a tight little group of editors, writers, photo editors, and designers at this magazine and website. And because it's such a small group, most people know how to do more than one or two things. Every editor here can pick up a phone or go somewhere to report and write a story. And the print/digital chasm was closed up, spackled, and forgotten long ago. (I've been, from time to time, a highly imperfect website editor. I hope you can't tell.) If there are any distinctions, it's between the art people and the word people. The art people have a higher sense of aesthetics than us brutish word peoplebut they can write pretty well. I guess everything doesn't go in both directions.
One of our editors, David Hechler, was a reporter and writer for a good chunk of his career. He's now the executive editor and guides much of the news operation and features here. But his forte was in long-term reportage, diving deep into a story, and producing terrific, involving narratives as a result.
Every now and then he gets the itch to do it again, so we reassign some of his duties to others to let him report and write.
Thus, this month's cover story. It pretty much landed in his lap. David's done quite a few articles on the continuing Toyota sudden acceleration allegations over the years, most memorably in a long profile of Dimitrios Biller, a former Toyota in-house lawyer who was embroiled in a messy lawsuit with the automaker.
Because of that story and others, a freelance document translator came forward and gave David some internal engineering and other documents. The result of David's analysis, and that of auto experts with whom he shared the documents, appears in the article. I'm not competent to evaluate the substance of the documents, but there are a couple of big lessons to be drawn from them for in-house counsel: