A Tucson law firm's legal reference book for journalists that claims to be a "search for the truth" has been nationally recognized by the American Bar Association as a successful advertising ploy for the firm.

The American Bar Association honored Mesch, Clark & Rothschild for The Reporter's Guide to Law Resources in Arizona, which was sent to about 300 reporters and editors around the state. The book carried handy legal information and also slyly suggested that reporters call a certain Tucson law firm's attorneys for answers to all kinds of law-related questions.

The firm's cleverly packaged attempt to entice journalists to call its lawyers for quotes--thereby getting the names of the firm's lawyers in print and on TV--was granted "special recognition" by the ABA in the "lawyer-owned advertising" section of the "print media" category. The bar association's "Dignity in Lawyer Advertising" contest had about 150 entries. (Also honored from Arizona was the Van O'Steen Lawyer Marketing Group, a consulting offshoot of O'Steen's local law firm. O'Steen was the national pioneer of advertisements by lawyers.)

According to a press release sent out with the original Mesch, Clark & Rothschild guide, the "idea for this project originated in an interoffice memo written on a sultry June afternoon in 1989." The release also claims that about 2,000 hours were spent assembling the guide. "The purpose for this project is simple," the release said. "We believe that journalists and lawyers are not adversaries, but partners in a search for the truth."

The idea for the guide came from Alan Ariav, who at the time was a law student clerking at the firm for the summer. Ariav, now one of the firm's attorneys, is a former Arizona Republic crime reporter who left the paper after it was revealed he had off-duty relationships with several topless dancers employed by reputed mobsters.

Contacted by New Times last week, Ariav refused to discuss the ABA award.


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Dave Walker