The Backstory of The Brief


Why we write it, why we’re making changes

Tl;Dr: The Brief grew out of conversations we were having with our network and our team on how larger forces impact our industry and our network. In an effort to give our readers a bigger picture view of current events and how these will impact them and to jump off the treadmill of the 24-second news cycle, we’ll be publishing the brief bi-weekly. 

Read more and see some gifs:

The past year of publishing “The Brief” has struck a nerve. Analytically, we see that it is widely shared and drives signups on both sides of our marketplace. Anecdotally, when I walk into meetings with current and prospective clients and partners, it’s often one of the first things they want to discuss in relation to a trend mentioned and how it’s impacting their own practice or legal department.

Why? Amidst these discussions, I’m often asked what you may have wondered too: Why as a marketplace that connects law firms, legal departments and LPOs with contract attorneys and other freelance legal professionals, do we publish a weekly roundup of all things “tech, culture, and the future of work” in the legal industry?

The Brief grew out of conversations we were having with our users in BigLaw, small law,  emerging company and Fortune 500 legal departments, LPOs, attorneys and legal professionals. Many were curious or looking to us for insight on trends and the shifting market landscapes that we closely follow for our own business planning. 

This turned into presentations for partner retreats, innovation committees, and in-house legal departments, and then creating content summarizing this information that we shared online with everyone.

But infographics and one-pagers sometimes aren’t the best or most dynamic compass of where things are headed. We wanted a better, more dynamic way to keep our network and industry informed in an accelerating world.

And as an attorney and CEO of Hire an Esquire, I’ve found many news junkie kindred spirits —an industry like law naturally attracts this. The Brief seemed the most appropriate way to connect to our industry and made sense to me personally. Since my early years, reading, exchanging ideas, and using this information to guess the future, was a way of connecting. My family received 2-3 newspapers a day, 5-6 news magazines weekly, and took weekly trips to the library. Rather than a taboo, reading and discussing politics at the dinner table was encouraged. It also formed the basis for family rituals. On weekdays, my parents left behind my two favorite parts of the paper (Maureen Dowd’s column and Rob Rogers’ political cartoon) with a cheerful message on a post-it note as a virtual good morning. With parents of mixed religious and ethnic backgrounds, the Sunday paper was our tradition and church. This day of “the big paper” was the only day other than holidays where we used our formal living room— which was promptly covered in a sea of newsprint.

With the Hire an Esquire team, I am at home. Our slack channels discussing industry and non-industry news and what it means for the world, our industry, and our network are lively and active. Content for The Brief comes out of the discussions and analysis of our slack channel combined with the conversations with and concerns of our network. The Brief is a way to bring our readers into our virtual living room and more...

It’s a crazy world we’re living in

The Brief was also designed as a token of consideration. The amount of information we all can and do consume today dwarfs what could be produced in print 20 years ago. What we hear from our network is there is consistently more to do, learn, and implement at work and less time and resources to do it. Job security, performance, and career panning increasingly require being on top of and understanding what’s next. And as industries, individuals, and businesses it’s increasingly hard to forget how much we’re at the will of greater political, economic, and climate forces—and how precarious they now are.

A key lesson from my news junkie childhood was that in the context of the larger stories of the world, individual events and shifts can feel less chaotic and more manageable and actionable—even if the realities are harsh. My father, with his insane capacity to retain the many things he was constantly reading always had a long view which connected the dots. As a child while I tried to understand and process issues I saw in the world from AIDS to homelessness, to how the crack epidemic was impacting my dad’s old neighborhood and the schools in which my parents taught, my father’s explanation of these things in the context of the news, political forces and policies didn’t make them less tragic, but made solutions seem more possible and actionable. 

These large volumes of information in context, governed programs and policies that my parents advocated for and implemented in their jobs as public city school teachers, how they voted, and their financial planning and investing. And increasingly, as the world economic fate shifts back and forth in a tweet, I see those in the legal industry (and everywhere else) trending towards the formula my family used. There is increasing consideration of outside forces in their business planning and more are looking for the bigger picture and how to integrate this information into their own business and career planning. 

Focus in a 24-second (full of distractions) news cycle: 

An unstable, shifting political climate combined with more information and professional demands can make it feel like too much to stay on top of anything let alone everything. 

When The Brief started in 2018, we didn't imagine the news cycle could speed up and add as many distractions as it did within the next 12 months. Over the course of the past year, it became increasingly common for a late-night/ early-morning tweet or whim to shift the dominant news stories. Writing a weekly news overview felt more like documenting the second by second twists and turns of a dangerously fast car ride with the passengers at the mercy of a drunk driver with severe ADD. 

We want to give our audience the big picture without the vertigo and minute-by-minute distractions of our current news cycle. We’ll now be publishing “The Brief” biweekly to do just that. 

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