[The previous essays in this series are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.]

     As old-school, unplugged, and offline as it might be, The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2024 (published in late November) offers numerous rewards to trend-spotters, statistics mavens, trivia fans, and random browsers.

     Begun in 1868, and published every year since 1886, this intellectual multitool and informational utility belt conveniently compiles practical advice, long-term and short-term perspectives, and thousands of facts and factoids, as well as a variety of lists that should be particularly pertinent to law and pre-law students, and to lawyers.

     ● First, the introductory “Top 10 News Topics of 2023” and abbreviated monthly “Chronology of Events” are good models for one type of “client alert” made available by law firms (who might well add commentary and projections).

     Similarly, law students and lawyers might, during the new year, maintain their own summaries of, and jot down their contemporaneous reflections on, notable developments in specific legal areas of interest.

     This exercise would not only enhance the focus and succinctness of one’s writing and presentations, but also aid interviewees (and interviewers) addressing, “What do you think the most important recent events have been in [particular area of law], and why?”

      Also, regularly reviewing such a list could help one distinguish the truly significant (even if generally overlooked) from the merely buzzworthy; and improve one’s capacity to identify, connect, and even predict patterns, perils, and pitfalls.

     ● Second, those seeking career contacts, and/or sources for their research projects, could consult the almanac’s rosters of: the highest revenue-generating businesses, domestic and international (from Fortune magazine); major financial institutions and defense contractors; and, a wide variety of associations and organizations (including labor unions and professional sports organizations).

     ● Third, the profiles of (and statistics for) “The 100 Most Populous U.S. Cities,” “States and Other Areas of the U.S.” and “Nations of the World” could be of use to those considering locations, or geographic regions, of potential employers and/or clients.

    ●  Fourth, the almanac contains copies of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution, and a list of “Selected Landmark Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

     ● Fifth, the editors provide helpful overviews of various health-related topics, including: “Screening Guidelines for Early Detection of Cancer”; depression; eating disorders; warning signs of heart attack and stroke; and, a one-page summary of “Basic First Aid.”  The almanac also lists dozens of health organizations and their contact information.

     ● Sixth, the book’s “Perpetual Calendar”—a catalog of calendars whose configurations collectively cover every possible year—supplies (and solves) an interesting example (especially for analogies) of a question (e.g., “What day of the week is March 10 of [a specific year]?”) that in general can have only a finite number of possible answers, and that in particular will have a definitive and (now) easily-determined answer.  (Before reviewing this feature, readers might consider, as a brain-teaser, how to calculate the number of different calendars necessary to constitute it.)

     ● Seventh, for those who like to nurdle out linguistically, the almanac indicates some of the words that Merriam-Webster added in 2023 to its online dictionary—including cheffy, chonky, kayfabe, and slacktivism.  It also lists various “Non-English Words and Phrases Commonly Used by English Speakers” (at least some of which should be very familiar to lawyers). 

     ● Eighth, the almanac’s mountain of material provides a vantage (if not vintage) point from which to view and review the past.

     The book contains not only chronologies of United States history (twenty-two pages) and of world history (twenty-nine pages), but also lists of political, cultural, and technological milestones of 1924, 1974, and 1999.

     In addition, for a figurative “Time Capsule,” the editors select as “representative of the year 2023” such items as a “legacy blue checkmark and abandoned bird logo from Twitter,” and “the final red Netflix DVD envelope.”

     I have suggested that law students “buy a printed newspaper on the first day of your orientation, and/or your first day of classes.  Save at least the front page.  It might not seem like a big thing at the time, but when you graduate (another good day to buy a newspaper), this low-cost time capsule will provide some historical and cultural perspective on your journey.”

     As another form of time capsule, a student might want to preserve the almanac dated the year of (or, for data from that specific year, of the year immediately following) her graduation. 

     For a reflective perspective both introspective and retrospective, one might even track down the edition corresponding to the year of one’s birth.

     Best wishes for a safe, productive, meaningful, and joyful—but certainly not a list(-)less—2024!