This will be my last post here at the Law21 blog for awhile. It’s also my first post here in a while, and these two are connected. Today, I’m launching a Substack newsletter that will effectively replace this blog. This is a pretty major change for me, and I feel I owe you an explanation of why I’m shifting gears so radically.
My first blog posts about the law appeared at Slaw.ca in the fall of 2007, and they laid the groundwork for Law21, which launched with this post in January 2008. I’ve honestly lost track of how many articles I’ve written here, but about 500 seems a reasonable guess. I took an 18-month break from blogging in 2015-16, and since I returned, I’ve posted less frequently, but in greater depth and detail. One of the first pieces of advice about blogging that I ignored was to blog even if I had nothing new to say, in order to keep up my profile. Instead, I post when I feel I have something original and worthwhile to say; otherwise, I keep my peace.
Even for all that, though, Law21 has been pretty quiet lately. Much of that is down to the two massive consulting projects for Canadian regulators that have consumed much of my pandemic period. But I’ve also let the flame of blogging burn low these last few years — which is odd, because I still have a lot to say about the legal sector. My Twitter feed has been busier than ever. I think my problem has been that I’ve got more to say than a Twitter thread could contain, but less than the 2,000-word monoliths I’d come to establish as the norm here.
And here’s the thing about blogs that’s both great and not: There’s no publishing schedule. Nobody is expecting a post from you; nobody has paid for a subscription and is looking to see their money’s worth in their inbox. The absence of that pressure has its upside; but in the long run, it discourages writing, draining it of some vitality and urgency. The demands of a schedule and an expectant readership were key elements of the spirit and strength of traditional print publishing, where I started out back in 1996.
That’s why I was so intrigued by the arrival of Substack, which seemed to offer an ideal third way: Mid-sized posts on a semi-regular schedule delivered directly to the inboxes of people who had specifically signed up to read what I had to say.
Substack offered me an opportunity to rekindle my flame of writing about the law, effectively placing guardrails around the length of my articles and minimum expectations for frequency and value. And while I didn’t start writing about the law to make money from it (see: 500 free posts, above), I found the possibility of eventually developing a paying readership enticing after all these years.
So that’s why I’m launching, today, a new Substack newsletter. Here’s the description:
I’m here to help you think differently about the legal sector. I write about making the legal system more effective and accessible, improving the formation and competence of lawyers, modernizing legal services business models, and reforming the regulation of the legal sector.
I’m also deeply interested in how building a better legal system can help bring about a better world. So I also talk about professional responsibility, the humanity essential to good legal assistance, and establishing a truly just legal system.
From time to time, I’ll also touch on personal topics like parenting, running a solo business, and grappling with my faith. Be advised that there will be Simpsons, sci-fi, and baseball references throughout.
My goal is to publish roughly once a week, though I’ll be writing more frequently during these first few months. The newsletter will be free at the start, and will remain free unless and until the subscriber base is sufficiently robust to justify a switch to paid subscriptions (although some material will always be outside the paywall). I love the name “Law21” and I never want to lose it; but I also feel like it belongs here, on this blog and website. So I decided to give my Substack newsletter an eponymous title — “Jordan Furlong” will appear as the sender in your inbox if you subscribe.
And I really do hope you subscribe. Whether you’ve been reading me and following my work since January 2008 or since you began this post or sometime in between, I am deeply grateful for your interest, more than I can say. But I have so much more I want to talk about — artificial intelligence, and professional values, and law firm profitability models, and lawyer formation and licensing, and exploding the supply of legal providers, and saving the lives and well-being of lawyers, are just some of the topics I’ve already got lined up for the first months of my Substack newsletter. And there’s much more to come.
I’ll still publish here at Law21 from time to time, especially if I have a mega-post that Substack can’t contain. And I’m still doing all the writing, consulting, and advisory work for legal organizations and legal sector stakeholders described in my “Services” tab. But I’m ready to write for a regular audience again, to help you better understand everything going on in the (legal) world, as you carve your own path towards a better legal system.
Today, I’m starting a new path in that direction myself. I’ll meet you on the way.