A History of Hire an Esquire: Looking Back
Hire an Esquire celebrates its fourth anniversary this month. Four years after our May 5, 2011 launch, our founder and CEO Julia Shapiro takes a look at how far the company has come. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the depths of the great recession and the legal crisis, it was the beginning of a new era. The story of Hire an Esquire’s launch and growth cannot be separated from the greater trends of law firms beginning to adopt technology, the push button economy and the startup world between 2011 and today.
Hire an Esquire launched into an industry hostile to change and technology in 2011. Out of work lawyers were the hardest job to place according to WSJ - with only one opening for every 100 lawyers. Law firms were generally suspicious of products that used the internet. Those affiliated with the east coast enterprise software industry and investment community regularly reminded me that our industry was “not sexy nor interesting.”
My profile as a founder was all wrong. I was a woman. My educational background was solid schools on academic scholarships, not the pedigreed schools investors loved (but also without the $100K in debt that would have prevented me from ever being a bootstrapped entrepreneur). I was a lawyer, and although lawyers think surprisingly like engineers and I was able to work closely with the engineers to blueprint and develop the product, I was not a classic “technical founder.”
I was regularly assured that Hire an Esquire would end up on the heap of startups that failed and would never receive funding. I was told to look to consumer and SMB oriented legal startups well-funded by top tier investors and begun by men with Ivy League pedigree for “better ideas.”
But in the end Hire an Esquire had something better than a stereotypical founder profile and an “of the moment” idea. It had loyal attorney users who saw the future, small entrepreneurial firms willing to take a chance and advisors and angel investors excited about what the legal industry could be. Hire an Esquire attracted a team of people with tenacity, grit and an affinity for solving hard problems and laughing in the face of a million “nos.”
Today, the legal startups I was told to look to “for better ideas” are defunct. We now have large law firms and corporate legal departments as clients. We have team members and investors with the stereotypical startup pedigree. Our team, revenue, network and investor interest are growing at a dizzying and exciting pace.
And while our entire team is skilled at gracefully accepting and enduring resistance and the word “no”— we all agree that acceptance and “yes” are much more fun!
Here’s a quick look back on how things have changed since Hire an Esquire’s launch:
The Hire an Esquire team and I are grateful to our fellow “mad ones”—from our users to investors—that have helped to make HaE what it is today.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to change the way attorneys work, for good.