Some law firms have questioned whether or not Martindale-Hubbell is still relevant with the advent of firm web sites, newsletters and other marketing programs.
So I asked Darryl Cross, Director of Strategy and Competitive Intelligence for LexisNexis for an answer. “Having more options does not change the way that buyers of legal services find, evaluate and select outside counsel,” he said.
“The Martindale-Hubbell Global Legal Network is not a directory. It is a platform built to provide corporate counsel and other sophisticated buyers of legal services the information and tools they need to select the ideal lawyers and law firms and justify those decisions. Superlawyers, Best Lawyers and other directories have their place as a self-promotional tool for law firms to use much like an advertisement or a sponsorship of a golf tournament. Martindale is a tool for buyers to use during their selection process,” Cross said.
So I asked whether in-house counsel actually use M-H to vet lawyers. Cross answered, "An independent 2006 Clear Horizons Research Study that showed Martindale was viewed by 84% of corporate counsel as the most credible source for ratings and rankings of lawyers. Other services such as Superlawyers and Best Lawyers did not even break into double digits.
According to Cross, the top three reasons clients use Martindale is to:
- Verify lawyer credentials after a referral
- Evaluate existing lists of preferred providers
- Find new counsel in an unfamiliar jurisdiction.
He added, “In essence, Martindale’s place is in the middle of the decision making process: buyers get referrals (or look at the present firms they use), they compare them with each other, create a short list and then a final decision is usually made based on a relationship.”
I asked: Can’t a firm just include this information on its own web site?
“Firms have this option, but they are missing the main point: it does no good to post content that buyers do not see. Martindale is not in the business of posting words in a book or online. Martindale is in the business of driving thousands of qualified buyers to your listing by providing credible information and tools for buyers of legal services,” Cross said.
Cross said Martindale has evolved to reflect changes in how firms are selected, Martindale has added the capability to search by peer review ratings, expertise, common RFP requirements and other factors. He said Martindale has also added a feature called “client review” to provide buyers information on how a firm’s clients rate their service, expertise and value for the money.
“Corporate clients do not have time to screen dozens of web sites or review hundreds of lawyer biographies every time they need to outsource a matter. The explosion in marketing and communications vehicles has actually exacerbated this problem for buyers,” Cross said.
Well, what about all the AmLaw 100 firms dropping out of Martindale-Hubell?
“Some firms have chosen not to subscribe to Martindale-Hubbell, but it is a tiny minority of firms. We welcome any firm to scrutinize the ROI and apply the same standards to their other marketing initiatives. According to buyers of legal services, they are actually using Martindale more than ever despite firms having other methods of attracting their attention. That is why Martindale, when compared to other marketing initiatives, is still one of the best investments in your firm’s future that you could make,” he said.