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All Rise! An Announcement About Original Jurisdiction
Thank you for your readership and support—over the past 17 years, and in the years ahead.
In March 2020, as many of you know, I came down with a life-threatening case of Covid-19. I spent almost three weeks at NYU Langone hospital, including six days on a ventilator. After leaving the hospital, I experienced months of lingering symptoms, such as a brutal cough and persistent shortness of breath. Today, I’m happy to report that I’m fully recovered (and fully vaccinated), but it has been a long road.1
My Covid experience changed me—not just physically, and not just for the worse. It gave me a deeper appreciation for human relationships, thanks to all the prayers and good wishes I received from so many of you (plus Cher), and it gave me a deeper appreciation for life, including how uncertain it can be.
It also got me back in touch with my love of writing. When I came down with Covid, I was working mainly as a legal recruiter, having left full-time writing and Above the Law in May 2019. While sick with Covid, I essentially live-tweeted my ordeal, and after I got out of the hospital, I wrote a series of pieces about my Covid experience for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Slate. Trying to shed light on a new and poorly understood disease, the novel coronavirus, bore some similarities to my earlier work as a writer and blogger over the past 17 years—demystifying the federal judiciary at Underneath Their Robes (“UTR”), and bringing greater transparency to Biglaw at Above the Law (“ATL”).
So like many of us during the pandemic, I learned a lot about myself—and one thing I learned is how much I missed writing. As a result, in December 2020, I launched the publication you’re now reading, Original Jurisdiction (“OJ”). For a sense of my vision for it, as well as how it compares to UTR and ATL, please see the extremely detailed About page.
I initially juggled Original Jurisdiction as a hobby with my work as a legal recruiter. But as the months passed, I found myself being drawn back into writing more and more—in large part because of the enthusiastic response to OJ that I received from my readers, including many of you who have been reading me since my UTR or ATL days. Eventually I concluded that even though I found legal recruiting to be enjoyable (and lucrative), I needed to return to my true passion of writing. So at the end of last month, I officially left the world of legal recruiting (and my wonderful colleagues at Lateral Link), returning to the world of legal journalism.
As a full-time writer, I now rely upon Original Jurisdiction as my primary source of income, which brings me to the subject of today’s post. As I’ve mentioned before, I have activated paid subscriptions on Original Jurisdiction. I will still offer some free content, but now much of the content, including most of the industry/niche/“inside baseball” content, will be paid.
What does a paid subscription to Original Jurisdiction get you? First, it gives you access to all content on OJ, including interviews with prominent personalities in the legal world (e.g., Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Paul Clement, Savannah Guthrie, Alex Spiro, Lisa Blatt, David Boies, Roberta Kaplan, Viet Dinh, Rachel Brand, Kannon Shanmugam); colorful commentary on current legal issues, including but not limited to noteworthy judicial rulings; and in-depth analysis of important trends in Biglaw.
Much of OJ’s content is available to both free and paid subscribers, but some content is available only to paid subscribers. The paywalled content includes industry-focused or “inside baseball” stories, including Supreme Court law clerk hiring and fellowship hiring (like Bristow and Skadden Fellows), as well as Judicial Notice, my popular weekly news roundup. For those of you who bill by the hour, if reading Judicial Notice reduces the amount of time you have to spend staying on top of the news by ten minutes in a year, an annual subscription pays for itself pretty much immediately. It also pays for itself if Judicial Notice gives you one piece of actionable intelligence a year that helps you land a client, make a hire, or find a new career opportunity.
Second, a paid subscription gives you access to commenting. The audience of OJ is currently a small but influential group: federal and state judges, trial and appellate; associates and partners, including managing and founding partners, at leading law firms; in-house lawyers at top companies; law school deans and professors; prominent legal journalists; and bright young law students and law clerks. Given the nature and knowledge base of my audience, I expect the reader comments here to be insightful, witty, and valuable. For those of you who have already subscribed, try posting a test comment (e.g., “FIRST!”):
Third, a paid subscription gives you access to podcast transcripts. While listening to the Original Jurisdiction podcast is fun (or so I like to think), many busy lawyers are readers who prefer to review a transcript, which is more efficient than listening to a 30- to 45-minute episode.
How much am I charging? Original Jurisdiction is classified by Substack under “Business,” and most Substack newsletters with a business or professional focus charge $10, which is what Substack itself recommends for business/professional publications. And some charge much more—e.g., Petition, a bankruptcy and restructuring newsletter, which charges $49. (Business and professional readers tend to be more affluent, as well as more able to expense the cost of a subscription.)
My guess is that I’ll eventually end up charging $8 to $10 a month for OJ. To promote the launch of paid subscriptions, however, I’m starting off by charging just $5 a month, which is the lowest price point that Substack permits. If you sign up for an annual subscription, it’s just $50 ($4 a month)—so not only do you receive a discount off the monthly rate, but you lock in that favorable rate indefinitely (unless and until Substack changes its policy on this).
Like many Substack writers, I have a premium subscription tier for “Founding Members,” for which I charge $250 a year. In addition to all the benefits available to regular paying subscribers, I’ll also give you an hour of my time (if you want it; you might not, I won’t take offense, and I’ll still be grateful for your support). At $200 an hour (subtracting the $50 value of the subscription), I’m cheaper than a Biglaw paralegal. We can have a phone call to discuss your law firm marketing plan, a Zoom session to talk about your legal career, or if we’re in the same place, we can do coffee, lunch, a hike, a jog—anything you want, really. (Well, maybe not anything; this offer is subject to exclusions in my discretion, such as anything illegal, anything contrary to public policy, and anything that would make my husband jealous.)
To those of you who have already signed up or plan to sign up for paid subscriptions, thank you for making Original Jurisdiction possible. I’m incredibly grateful to be back as a full-time writer, making a living by doing what I love, and I hope to produce a publication that is worthy of your gracious and generous support.
[UPDATE (12/15/2022): Since its original publication, this post has been amended in various ways, to reflect (1) my full recovery from Covid; (2) interviews I’ve conducted since May 2021; (3) the addition of podcast transcripts as a benefit; (4) Substack’s subscription pricing policy; and (5) various updated links.]
Yes, I know — I’ve talked about my Covid experience ad nauseam over the 13 months or so. I’m generally of the view that I can’t express enough gratitude after going through what I went through last year. But I’m ready to move on, and Original Jurisdiction is an important part of my returning to being known more as a commentator on legal affairs as opposed to a patient suffering from a dread disease. So I won’t talk much about Covid in the pages of OJ, except in the context of Covid-related legal issues (e.g., litigation over Covid restrictions). If you’re interested in my Covid musings, please follow me on Twitter instead: @DavidLat. Thank you once again for all your support over such a difficult period in my life.