By Elizabeth P. Valk/Publisher
December 04, 1989 12:00 PM

Nearly a dozen people read any given story in PEOPLE each week before the magazine goes to press: Our editors read the story for content and tone, copy editors for grammar and style, and reporter-researchers for accuracy. And then there’s Nicholas Jollymore. Nick is PEOPLE’S attorney, and he reads every story with one eye on the law.

Jollymore, a former reporter himself, doesn’t let us get sloppy about our facts or write anything certain to cause us legal problems. “I don’t try to be a censor,” says Jollymore. “The reporters, writers and editors should be free to write what they see fit. We just have to be able to defend it in court.” Happily, Jollymore rarely visits court—PEOPLE, in its 15-year history, has never been successfully sued for libel.

“All of us who write and edit for PEOPLE feel more confident knowing that Nick is in our corner, protecting both us and our sources,” says managing editor Lanny Jones. “And because he was a journalist, Nick brings a special insight and sensitivity to our needs. He doesn’t just object to things; he helps us find solutions.”

A native of Cloquet, Minn., Jollymore, 43, earned his B.A. in English and a master’s degree in mass communication at the University of Minnesota. He then came to New York City, where he drove a cab before finding a job in nearby Jersey City, N.J., as reporter for the Jersey Journal. Later, while covering the courts for UPI in Newark, N.J., he decided he’d rather be a lawyer than write about the law. He enrolled at New York City’s Fordham University law school (where, as an adjunct professor, he now teaches mass media law), graduating in 1978. After working as a litigator at the law firm of Rogers & Wells, he came to Time Inc. in 1985 and to PEOPLE in 1987. In addition to overseeing the stories in this magazine, Jollymore draws up our contracts for buying book excerpts and exclusive photographs, and drafts joint promotion contracts with advertisers.

That’s just his day job. On closing night you’ll find Jollymore after midnight huddling with an editor or reporter over the exact wording in a story. “It’s a sad fact that juries have wide latitude to award multimillion dollar verdicts in libel cases,” he says. “Given those stakes, it’s worth the effort to watch our words carefully.”