Of Interest

The 80s


by George T. Roumell Jr.   |   Michigan Bar Journal


The 1980s continued the evolution of the Michigan Bar Journal as a publication that not only announced and reported on Bar events but also became a useful tool for practicing attorneys with the introduction of theme issues.

Beginning with a theme issue on evidence, the various sections of the Bar began collect­ing articles for publication so there would be a labor law theme, a business law theme, a negligence law theme, and so on. The idea was that attorneys could retain the theme is­sues as references when preparing cases in various areas of law.

The theme issues have continued for the last 40 years as part of the service that the Bar Journal provides to its members. These issues continue to serve their original intent: name­ly, that the Bar Journal has become a perma­nent part of many attorneys’ libraries.

Later in the decade, columns were introduced to aid attorneys. One notable addition was the Plain Language column, which I found helpful in writing briefs. Nearly four decades later, it still appears in the Bar Journal.

For a while in the 1980s, Bar Journal cov­ers featured works of art; the idea was to encourage attorneys to be patrons of the arts. Of particular note was that each annu­al directory issue cover had a work of art depicting a legal subject. Perhaps the big­gest coup in publishing a work of art with a legal theme was the directory issue that pub­lished — probably for the first and only time in the United States — a 1905 painting of a jury trial in Oslo, Norway, by that country’s greatest painter, Edvard Munch. Munch, of course, is famous for his painting “The Scream.” We were pleased to introduce Bar members to the work of this legendary paint­er. Another directory cover featured an early American painting of a trial from colonial times, adding to the depth of the interplay between art and the legal profession.

At least one other state followed, in part, the format of our journal. But perhaps no better tribute can be made to the success of the Michigan Bar Journal than the fact that on more than one occasion, briefs filed in courts have cited material that appeared in its pages.