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Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell has gone where no law firm has gone before. It has launched its own magazine, called Leaders. At a cost to the firm of $20,000 per quarterly issue, the four-color, glossy magazine with user-friendly articles on legal issues written by Smith Gambrell attorneys is a hefty marketing investment. But its editor in chief, Terry Ferraro Schwartz — whose day job is being a securities lawyer — said her firm’s foray into the publishing industry already is proving its worth. The firm has received calls, letters and e-mails from clients who love the publication, she said. What’s more, the magazine already has generated quantifiable results. Kathleen J. Hay, a Smith, Gambrell marketing coordinator who helped produce the magazine, said an article on toxic mold already has generated several clients for the firm. One client, Cellular3G Inc.’s vice president of intellectual property, Larry M. Goldstein, wrote to praise an article on international construction arbitration. He called the magazine “outstanding,” and said it provided “the right balance of sufficient detail without becoming burdensome to the reader.” According to Hay, the 36-page publication is the brainchild of Smith Gambrell’s director of corporate image, Connie Frost. Frost was on a plane, picked up a copy of the in-flight magazine and thought, “Why can’t we do this?” Her pitch: The firm was producing and mailing out 17 issues of various newsletters each year. A magazine would cost about the same, require less labor, and would consolidate information to promote cross-selling. Schwartz said the idea was presented to the partnership for approval in late March. By June, contributing attorneys had turned in their articles for editing, and by August, the firm had mailed the first issue. Schwartz and members of the magazine’s advisory board, who are also Smith Gambrell attorneys, handled the editing. Frost worked on graphics and layout and CreativeBeast Marketing Communications handled design, she said. Leaders recently won the Southeast Legal Marketing Association’s best firm-image/print collateral piece and Best of Show awards. Leaders had a first press run of 12,000 copies, and about 10,000 were sent gratis to clients and potential clients. Stories include an analysis of the economics of buying a corporate jet and a how-to on franchising. Schwartz said she was shooting for a cross between informative law review style and reader-friendly magazine journalism. “Some areas are harder than others to lighten up,” she acknowledged. Though it contains several house advertisements, Leaders is largely free of an obvious “Wow-Smith-Gambrell-is-great” sort of attitude. “We did not want to go there,” said Schwartz. “In our view that would just kill the whole purpose of the magazine. … We believed that if it looked like nothing but a promotional advertising piece, it would get thrown away.”

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