Martindale-Hubbell ConnectedLexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell has been working on a social networking community for lawyers for the last year or two. It’s called Marindale-Hubbell Connected.

Though still in Beta, LexisNexis is asking lawyers to join Connected at Connected’s home page. Lawyers and law firms are using Connected. Some practicing lawyers are even reviewing Connected.

I’m regularly asked what I think of Connected. At presentations at LMA (Legal Marketing Association) chapters around the country, by many of LexBlog’s clients (ranging from solo’s to the largest law firms in the world), and even by LexisNexis sales people and executives. I guess that should be expected as I write and speak on social media and social networking for lawyers as much as anyone.

The problem is I cannot get into Connected. I go through the registration process. The registration process recognizes that Martindale-Hubbell has me in their data-base as a lawyer. And when I complete the registration page I am told I will hear from Martindale. Then I hear nothing. I tried a few months ago and a I tried again last week. Both times no response.

I am not the only lawyer who gets the same ‘no response.’ I have heard from other lawyers they go through the registration process, sign up, are told by LexisNexis on the Connected site they’ll hear back, and then nothing.

I was told last year by a LexisNexis Exec I could get a demo from Martindale-Hubbell personnel, but others have told me the demo was pretty limited and did not give them ongoing use of Connected. And now that Connected is being used by other lawyers now registering, I’m not real excited about a limited demo.

I thought Connected may be a pay for play community, ie, you need to be a Martindale-Hubbell paying subscriber. However, upon asking that question on Twitter on Thursday, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell personnel replied ‘No fee to be a member of Martindale-Hubbell Connected.’

I then asked further on Twitter about how lawyers get in Connected and why some lawyers who register are told they will receive a response, and then hear nothing. Martindale-Hubbell personnel refused to respond. Crazy.

I am heading to Birmingham to speak to their LMA chapter this week on social media and social networking for law firms. I must have 3 or 4 outstanding invites to present at other LMA chapters between now and this summer. I’m also presenting at various bar associations and associations of law firms throughout the year.

At each presentation to date, I’ve listed Connected as a social networking site for law firms. I’ve said it may be a compelling offering, but that it’s taken LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell a long time to get Connected live while LinkedIn, and open web social networking (blogs, Twitter etc) are making significant advances. I also said I thought Connected was limited to paying Martindale-Hubbell subscribers.

Going forward I am going to say that Connected still in beta is open, accepting lawyers and that it’s free to use, but that Martindale is locking out some lawyers (even non Martindale critics) with out explanation, and that Martindale won’t respond why. That’s silly, but I am not sure what else to say.

And it leaves law firms wondering what’s up. Does Connected work from a tech standpoint? Has LexisNexis not yet developed a marketing strategy for Connected? Is Connected’s use to date limited to law firms who haven’t reduced their Martindale-Hubbell listings?

Smart and innovative companies want their products used and discussed by influencers, especially bloggers. It makes for a better product and service. Improvements and enhancements can be made based on wide ranging use and open discussion on the Internet.

It’s not like LexisNexis is not trying to influence public discussion and generate a positive buzz about Connected. Just look at the Twitter discussion about Connected. LexisNexis employees are discussing recent partnerships between Connected and law firm associations and hyping the number of lawyers now using Connected.

But LexisNexis’ approach of shutting out lawyers and bloggers on Connected while letting in their friends is antiquated and reflects poorly on the company. Companies today understand that controlling public perception through controlled PR while alienating those on the blogosphere is destined to backfire.

Connected may be a great service. Who nows? It’s time for LexisNexis to open up Connected to lawyers, especially the influencers, before the discussion turns south on Connected, not because it’s a poor product, but because the PR associated with its launch was handled so poorly.

  • Kevin –
    I have been a member of Connected for several months. I am not sure how I got in or what happened in the registration process so I can’t offer much on that.
    The lure of Connected is the combination of a online networking community with the enormous pool of data in the Lexis databases. You look for information, finding relevant articles, cases and people.As with blogging,you show your expertise through the stuff you write, the cases you work on, the transactions you work on and the news. Then you tie that all to a central profile and connect with the people you know.
    I find it a very compelling story. But it is only a story at this point. There is only limited functionality on the social network side. So far there is no connection to the substantive Lexis content.
    I was told that there are some major upgrades and changes shortly as they plan to open to a wider audience at the end of the month.
    I have not written about Connected because there is not much to write about. It is sparsely populated and lacks content. I may be one of the few non-Lexis people doing much with it.
    I think Beta is a premature label for the platform.

  • Kevin: Been practicing for over 25 yrs and been in MH at the various firms I have been at, but when tried to sign up, they are just all confused and can’t apparently figure out who I am. They are “going to get back to me”. Great product…not!

  • martindale hubbell is done, over, gone. They are like Cadillac, a company stuck in the past and trying to grab the future. It won’t happen. I just heard of Connected 1 minute ago by reading your post.
    I use Lexis for research, but am out of Martindale, out of lawyers.com, and don’t believe MH has any future. People see it as the past, and they are just now trying to be a part of the future.

  • Kevin: First and foremost, I want to make it clear that we are not blocking any lawyers from joining Connected. Any lawyer who wants to join Connected, can join Connected.
    Now let me explain why some people are not being authenticated immediately into the network. Unlike other online networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Legally Minded, etc., Connected authenticates that members are lawyers and they work where they say they work. We have done this because lawyers have told us that they want to have a high level of confidence and trust that the people they’re interacting with are who they say they are. To accomplish this, we have built some validation checks into the registration process. While we have a large database of lawyers, law firms, and companies, we don’t have 100% coverage. Unfortunately, these are the people we need to validate manually and that can take up to 3 business days. We obviously need to communicate what’s going on here better.
    The authentication workflow has not worked as well as we expect; but that’s why we have betas — to allow users to try things out, so we can see what works and doesn’t. We are already starting to work on making improvements here and it is our highest priority right now.
    Finally, several people have said that they went through the registration process, but have never heard back from us. If this is the case, this is human error and is not acceptable. Please reach out to me directly at jonathan.lin@lexisnexis.com or @jonlin98 on Twitter and I will make sure that each case is personally investigated and resolved.

  • Thanks Jon. Appreciate the response. Will let lawyers know to contact you if they are not getting in.
    You should know that I tried to get into Connected through the online registration process last year and was told I would here back because I could not be authenticated. I heard nothing. I raised the issue with LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell and got no response. I am told by other lawyers I was not alone.
    It’s great that all lawyers get in Connected now. I’m sorry I had to raise the issue in a post here and generate discussion on Twitter to hear back.