Martindale Hubbell Blown to Bits?

I can’t offer my own opinion on Martindale-Hubbell Connected — the Lexis Nexis venture into bringing its traditional directory product into the world of social networking and Web 2.0 and regain some relevance in the realm of lawyer shopping — because it is a closed system and I haven’t been able to see how it works. (Isn’t a non-open system breaking rule #1 of Web 2.0?) But Doug Cornelius and Kevin O’Keefe, two web savvy lawyers, bloggers, Linkedin guys, Tweeters (you get the idea) have a few things to say about their experiences with Martindale’s Connected product over on Kevin’s blog. Read:

Martindale – Hubbell Connected : Will it go anywhere?

And here’s the direct link to Cornelius’ thoughtful post:

Martindale-Hubbell Connected – My Thoughts

In fairness to Martindale Hubbell, the system is still in Beta. But it has been making very slow progress. It reminds me of the saga of the Encyclopedia Britannica ($2,200, 20-volume set) and how it was paradigm shafted by Microsoft’s Encarta CD-ROM (ultimately a free bundled product) as told by Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster in Blown to Bits: How the New Economy of Information Transforms Strategy.

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Posted in Books, Law Firm Marketing, New Media / Internet
7 comments on “Martindale Hubbell Blown to Bits?
  1. Amy –

    I sort of understand the desire to create an online community for lawyers. But almost immediately, you realize you need to let some non-lawyers into the community. Then, where do you draw the line?

    It sounds like the Martindale folks have a bunch of research that is guiding their decision-making process. I fear that they are pushing out a site that appeals to the broad swath of the legal community, with little appeal to early adopters (like us). But if you don’t appeal to the early adopters, then who starts the community building?

    Thanks for stopping by and reading my post.

  2. John Lipsey says:

    Hi Amy:

    As you acknowledge, Connected is currently an authenticated community for lawyers only. There are definitely strong opinions as to whether Connected should be open to anyone and not authenticated, or whether it should be a “gated” community. However, in virtually all of our discussions with lawyers on the subject — they wanted a private community, where users are authenticated to ensure they are who they say they are. It’s what they told us they want.

    Next, lawyers already have open communities they can go to (ie LinkedIn, Facebook), and Connected isn’t designed to replace those. Rather, its purpose is to create an alternative, safe place where practitioners can go to connect, interact and collaborate with trusted peers on substantive legal topics. It would have been much, much easier to create an open community with no-authentication, but that’s not what most lawyers wanted. Meanwhile, we’re no fools. We realized the complementary value of a broad, open network too. That’s why we inked an agreement with LinkedIn last summer in which LinkedIn profiles of members are viewable and accessible right from our network.

    Finally, that all said, we’ve only been in beta since last June, having grown from no members to over 2800 during that time period. During the beta, we heard loud and clear that legal professionals who were not lawyers also wanted to be able to engage in the network. Accordingly, that will happen this summer, when we open up the authenticated community to non-practitioners.

  3. Amy Campbell says:

    Thank you Doug and John for your comments. Martindale-Hubbell is certainly a hot topic these days and many folks are watching to see how the it makes the leap to the new world of information. I look forward to learning more about Connected…

  4. Ohad Reshef says:


    A note on your comment about early adopters. My marketing background tells me that products that introduce new concepts should first target early adopters. However, in my personal opinion, the question is whether MH Connected fits this criterion. Social and Professional networks have been there for a while. What Martindale is doing is bringing this concept to the Legal community and applying it in a legal specific manner. The issue with early adopters is that they are always looking for new technologies, which change very fast (yesterday it was facebook, today twitter, tomorrow who knows?). In my opinion, Martindale-Hubbell should focus on the main stream. We aim to become the largest online legal community (I can think of one of at least one colleague that would disagree 🙂 .) Largest to me means that we need the average attorney to be using our product. I suspect that the average attorney does not care about Twitter at this point, and is looking for practical solutions to make his or her life easier (or more efficient, productive etc.) The average attorney already knows about Facebook and Linkedin and should therefore feel comfortable to use Martindale-Hubbell Connected. I therefore think we should continue and provide the tools that will help mainsream lawyers do their work better, and not cater to all of the early adopters wishes. We do listen, however, to every bit of fair critism that is said about MH Connected and working very diligently to enhance some of these issues.

    MH Team

  5. Ohad –

    It will be interesting to see if a product can skip over the “early adopters” and go straight for the “early majority” and “late majority” adopters, hoping to mash the “early adopters” into the larger groups.

    Like you, I have been exploring online communities for lawyers for a few years, wondering if any will catch on. I came to them looking for a better way to connect people with their information to identify expertise. that was my knowledge management background.

    I agree with your statement on Twitter. It is a toy with dubious long term prospects. But there are many lessons to be learned from Twitter. I would not dismiss it with out seeing what made its growth so explosive. We may also learn some lessons if it implodes trying to find a revenue model.

    I am not sure that many lawyers are comfortable with being part of an online community. Sure there are many lawyers in LinkedIn, but most just post their bios and submit to a few connections. They don’t use the forums, update their status or use the other more social tools in LinkedIn. There are very few lawyers in Facebook and few that use it as part of their professional profile. In fact many view the online community as a solely personal tool and not a professional one.

    On the other hand, this is the first online legal community backed by a big name. The Martindale brand may be enough to drive people into the community. But will there be anything there to keep them coming back?

    I guess we will see shortly.

    In the meantime, are you going to let in Amy?

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    Thanks and lets keep them lawyers on their toes!

  7. John Kirk says:

    Martindale should just fold up and go away..they offer no value to attorneys.

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