A Note to Readers New and Old

By Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, February 2, 2017, 11:40 AM

Yesterday morning, I had pleasure of speaking to the great Ira Glass of This American Life about my piece on President Trump’s executive order on refugees and visas. Later on, Glass sent me a lovely note about Lawfare: “On Saturday I stumbled across your analysis of the Executive Order banning people from seven countries. Two days later you were the first to post the State Department dissent. I felt like, ‘Two days ago, I'd never heard of you and now you’re my new best friend.’ A new staple of my media diet. A helpful source for analysis and insight.”

He’s not alone. Things have been busy at Lawfare these past few months, both from the editorial side and in terms of new readers. We’ve been surprised and honored at the pace we’ve grown over the past few years, but what we’re seeing now is actually exponential growth in readership. With that in mind, below a few thoughts for Lawfare readers new and old.

First, bear with us on the tech side. The traffic surge has us struggling to keep up. To give some sense of the scale, Lawfare’s traffic last month exceeded traffic in January 2016 by an almost mind-boggling 1,101 percent (and 2016 was already a 72 percent growth over 2015). Our awesome tech folks at INM United have been upgrading our servers to handle the new traffic volumes. But we’ve had a few brief outages in recent weeks and it’s possible there may be a few more as we adjust to the new demands. So please be patient if the site seems a little slow on occasion. And thank you to the alert readers who have flagged issues for us on Twitter and in emails. The INM folks have also built us a more flexible front page that allows us to feature more articles and keep things on the page longer. Further upgrades to the site are coming.

Second, in addition to traffic, we are also scrambling on the editorial side to keep up with the volume of material we need to cover. We’re a very small operation; all of our writers have day jobs; and much of Lawfare every day reflects the work of our beloved student volunteer contributors. We are working towards shoring up editorial capacity to reflect the somewhat surprising expansion of legal issues tied, directly or indirectly, to national security.

On both of the above points, we continue to need reader support. If you have found Lawfare useful, we hope you will consider contributing to fund this site. The Lawfare Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3).

And all that said, I have a simple message for Ira Glass and our many other new readers: Welcome.

We’re an unusual site. Some of our work is extremely technical; we’re written, after all, for practicing national security lawyers, and we never imagined that we’d be reaching a large audience far beyond the practitioners, legal scholars, government officials, and journalists who make up our core audience. That said, I couldn’t be more delighted that we are reaching a wider group, that so many people are finding Lawfare useful and compelling.

We may never be so lucky as to become your new best friend, but we very much hope that you’ll also find in Lawfare a new staple for your media diet and a helpful source for analysis and insight.