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May 20, 2009

Towards a reinvented Martindale-Hubbell?

Martindale-Hubbell also represents many other solutions that help law firms establish...a full range of marketing and client development services. One of our most recent, and proudest, releases is Martindale-Hubbell Connected, our premier legal professional network. Thousands of corporate counsel and attorneys have joined this network since it's launch earlier this year.

--Dave Danielson, Martindale-Hubbell/VP LexisNexis Client Development

A New Martindale-Hubbell? We'll certainly listen to that idea. Five days ago we ran a recycled yet timely post entitled Redux: Martindale-Hubbell: Should we all "just say no"?. In response, Dave Danielson, Martindale-Hubbell/Vice-President, LexisNexis Client Development, commented back. Dave's response is both honest and instructive. For some readers, it will even break a bit of news. We print it in its entirety below:

Mr Hull raises a fair point, one that we definitely hear loud and clear at Martindale-Hubbell. But, the picture in this original post ironically helps me make a very important point - that Martindale-Hubbell is viewed by many lawyers as "just a listing" or "just a book". This could not be farther from the truth. Let me explain...

Martindale-Hubbell subscribers are paying for a "listing", yes, but that listing puts them in Martindale.com as well as Lawyers.com and also syndicates their profile/contact information to many alliance partners like Google, Yahoo, CitySearch, MSN, superpages, and many others. If you see a law firm listed in Google "Local" there is a fair chance that our syndication was involved. We believe that this syndication value online is worth a lot in reduced cost and complexity for the typical law firm.

Also, between Lawyers.com and Martindale.com we have over 3 Million unique visitors each month with even more lawyer searches. Surveys have consistently put Lawyers.com and Martindale.com as a trusted source for ratings, content, and discussion - more of a decision support solution than a simple directory.

But, Martindale-Hubbell also represents many other solutions that help law firms establish their own Web Site/SEO presence on the internet, implement a pay per click program, manage leads for a complete ROI; develop market intelligence, relationship intelligence and business intelligence - a full range of marketing and client development services.

One of our most recent, and proudest, releases is Martindale-Hubbell Connected, our premier legal professional network. Thousands of corporate counsel and attorneys have joined this network since it's launch earlier this year. Members tell us that they want an opportunity to speak privately with other legal professionals, establish new connections to discuss legal issues, and even to create their own group and implement their own online seminar/discussion (we extend connections to LinkedIn as well)

So, while we appreciate and acknowledge the historic importance of our peer review ratings, we have changed quite a bit from the days of books but we still have a long way to go. We are establishing packages to reduce overall prices and to help law firms establish the best mix of solutions to fit their marketing needs. We even have a program that allows individual attorneys to create a low cost subscription when their law firm has chosen not to subscribe. We have an abbreviated listing for all attorneys we are aware of but we would prefer to establish the right memberships so that the full capabilities of the law firm can be presented for our large community of visitors to consider/review and so that all leads/opportunities can be automatically tracked.

But again, we must continue to improve. We are trying to make a concerted effort to listen to our proponents and our detractors so we can continue to grow our historic place in the market as the primary source for legal decisions and communication among consumers, attorneys, and corporate counsel.

I and my colleagues would appreciate hearing from all on ways that we can improve.

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to post.

Regards,
Dave Danielson
Martindale-Hubbell/VP LexisNexis Client Development

Posted by JD Hull at May 20, 2009 11:59 PM

Comments

I don't think that Martindale-Hubbell is irrelevant, but they are really pushing paid placement on lawyers.com (at least with our law firm). Martindale-Hubbell also is pushing to take over law firm websites and to do search optimization. Personally, and I have told our rep this, I think that the websites they have done that I have seen look like "Web In O'Box." They cetainly provide no creativity or differentiation for law firms, at least that I have seen.

If Martindale asked me, and they haven't, my advice would be for them to stick to their knitting and to focus on their rating system and providing value both to lawyers and to the legal community. The rating system still has a lot of credibility in the legal community. Those of us with an "AV" rating view it as very important.

In terms of the web-based changes they are trying to make, I really am not sure they are on the right track. The website creation and management is not, to me anyway, attractive. I'm not sure Martindale really "gets" social networking. The lawyers.com placement is not targeted enough and is expensive.

Again, if Martindale asked me, and they have not, I would recommend that they concentrate on serving their primary constituency (lawyers), and bring in someone who really understands how to monetize web services in a manner that does not ask your primary constituency to buy placement. As things currently are, they can only serve to undermine the objectivity of what Martindale has represented for many years. And, as is obvious from Dan's post, Martindale is not doing a very good job of making and keeping friends at its core.

Posted by: John Watkins at May 20, 2009 08:16 AM

This will be a biased comment; I work for LexisNexis (albeit in a separate division), but I will try to comment here as an attorney and a blogger interested in technology, rather than an employee plugging his company (i.e., this is not LexisNexis talking here). With the disclaimer out of the way, let me comment: I too had similar questions about Martindale's relevance in a Web 2.0 world. We all have access to free marketing tools (blog, twitter, social networks, etc.), so why would anyone need to pay for a listing in Martindale? The answer is two-fold: (1) consistent brand syndication (aggregated on MH & Lawyers.com), and (2) legitimacy.

On point (1) Dave Danielson said it above, (regarding a paid listing on Martindale) "that listing puts them in Martindale.com as well as Lawyers.com and also syndicates their profile/contact information to many alliance partners like Google, Yahoo, CitySearch, MSN, superpages, and many others." This is repurposing at its finest - the effort that would go into an individual managing such syndication efforts so that their brand can aggregate consistently across multiple consumer platforms would cost more than the fee to list with Martindale, both in time and money. In today's fast paced world, people want to see your name whereever they look. The word "search" in online life has a strained meaning at best; most of us do not look beyond the first page of Google results.

On point (2), ratings and feedback matter to the consumer. Creating a legitimate snapshot via AV ratings gains legitimacy and credibility among both colleagues and potential clients; this translates into more business. Martindale presents an opportunity to be the more relevant than others in a client's search results.

Along these lines, a feature that is on Lawyers.com (and would be great to see on Martindale) is client feedback. An enhancement to this feature, and something very useful for Martindale would be the ability of clients to enter a net promoter score (scale of 1-10 measuring whether they would recommend this lawyer to a friend). When choosing a service or product I find such ratings helpful in deciding whether to put my hard earned money there.

In sum, Martindale provides many existing benefits (syndication, search and profile, legitimacy), and has the potential to do so much more, especially with M-H Connected (think Linkedin for lawyers).

Posted by: Mike Mintz at May 20, 2009 09:36 AM

Martindale Hubbell is a complete waste of money for lawyers. They sell "optimized" websites when they know full well that they do nothing for the lawyers they are selling websites for. Also Google Local is FREE. MH does NOT have a special arrangement with Google. What a load of crap. Here's the bottom line: the average (i.e. 99.9%) law client has never heard of MH and will go straight to Google or MSN or Yahoo and do a random search and in one of these searches MH websites or listings will never show up. Save your money and find a company that can actually provide your firm with a real presence online.

Posted by: Jon at May 20, 2009 11:46 PM

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