Martindale Hubbell Buys Own Nails & Hammer For Coffin

Regular readers will already be fully aware that we think that MH’s late foray into social networking has been an abject failure before even getting off the ground.

They stuck with the directory model and paid entries so long beyond the models sell by date that they now find that they have been usurped by general social networking services such as FaceBook,Twitter & the most useful service for professionals ..Linked In

It appears that we aren’t the only people amazed by the guile of MH and their “Connected” product.

Kevin O’Keefe of Lex Blog is almost apoplectic when describing his recent encounters with the company and the product in his post of 24 March entitled:

Martindale-Hubbell Connected PR Games : Time for LexisNexis to get it

here’s a couple of extracts from the piece to give you an idea of why MH will never manage to turn their product into  the social networking space for the international legal community.

He writes:

LexisNexis’ social networking community for lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, is in trouble. Connected is late to the game, it’s not being well received by the lawyers now trying it, and worst of all is LexisNexis’ lack of understanding how to use the Internet and social networking/media to build a following for its social networking site.

The latest comes this morning when Martindale tells folks via Twitter they have been soliciting feedback on Connected from lawyers, including me, for the last 9 months. Total bunk.


I heard nothing from Martindale about getting into Connect until I brow beat them by blogging and twittering 10 days ago that I was being refused access to Connected at the same time law firms were asking me to comment on Connected during speaking engagements around the country. LexBlog’s clients and my blog readers were also regularly asking about Connected as they do with Legal OnRamp, and LinkedIn, two other social networking communities we are all given ready access to.

A week ago last Sunday LexisNexis employees told me all lawyers, including me, can get into Connected. ‘It just may take a few days after registration.’ Then another LexisNexis employee tells me the next day no, ’employees were told at a recent national sales meeting, that membership is still limited to corporate counsel.’

I finally got in Connected a week ago and shared my commentary and that of Doug Cornelius’ in a blog post about Connected on Saturday. A fair amount of negative commentary about Connected on blogs and Twitter followed – from lawyers, law firm marketing professionals, and law firm knowledge management people.
Social networking for professionals in this down economy has never been bigger. It’s well accepted that LinkedIn’s tremendous growth is in part driven by people looking for jobs and new clients. However, LexisNexis is late to the game and is only getting later.
For LexisNexis to pull Connected out of its tail spin they ought to get Connected open as


LexisNexis, with all the financial resources it has and Martindale’s ready database of lawyers has a huge advantage in getting Connected to market and well received by its target users, but unless the ship is righted immediately we could all be watching a tremendous expense of capital – people and money, on a product that’s never going anywhere.

In his piece O’Keefe also refers to a post by Doug Cornelius who doesn’t spare the rod either and writes

The site is merely a social network site with a connection to Martindale-Hubbell  listings. So far there is no connection to the substantive Lexis content. Even the social networking tools are mediocre.

I was told that there are some major upgrades and changes coming soon as they plan to open Connected to a wider audience at the end of March.

To be fair, Connected is not a disaster like the ABA’s LegallyMinded. But, Connected does not have the interesting community of users and content like Legal OnRamp, a similar platform. Connected does not have the large population of users like LinkedIn and Facebook. Connected also lacks many of the rich features of LinkedIn and Facebook.

Part of Connected’s approach is create an authenticated community. So that the person is who they say they are. An interesting approach, but to me it seems like a lot of work for little value. (Perhaps they are scarred by the squatters holding LexisNexis in Twitter.) The authentication seems designed around the Martindale listing. So to start you need to be a lawyer to get. Apparently they are going to open Connected to the larger legal community sometime this summer (according to Kathleen Delaney in the comment to this post).

Frankly, I am not sold on having a gated community for a broad legal community. What would I publish or say in Connected that I would not otherwise say on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn? I am an early adopter, so maybe the general legal population would be more likely to contribute in Connected than on one of the public platforms? I am skeptical.

We would make a number of suggestions to MH to try and launch a decent product such as..

•    Employ designers born after 1980 to create a look and feel that reflects the current trends in social networking

•    Launch an open network  and make sure although it is a Beta everything actually works

•    The hard one for MH/LN….Look at your content base and find somthing that’s of use to people and provide it for free… yes we did say that .. for free

•    Try to make the look and feel of the site more exciting that the interior of an IBM factory circa 1974

•    Make apps creation as easy as possible. Serious and silly apps should be easy to build. And we suggest that with an increasing amount of lawyers and law firm support staff out of work giving some of these people a place to work on and try out  ideas  may well bring us the next big developments and ideas  in legal technology , information etc.

Just a few ideas that we’re sure LN will roundly ignore as naïve and or silly. But then they probably thought the same of JD Supra, PreCYdent et al