Legal directories

The shares of LinkedIn rose 6.8 percent yesterday to a record $168.55. Bloomberg’s Ari Levy reports that Evercore’s Ken Sena raised his price estimate to $200 from $160 and believes LinkedIn could reach $280 within five years.

LinkedIn has more than tripled since its initial public offering in May 2011, outperforming Internet companies like Facebook Inc. (FB), Groupon Inc. (GRPN) and Zynga Inc. (ZNGA), which are all trading below their IPO price. While LinkedIn has characteristics of a consumer Web company — offering a free service and selling ads — it also has an expanding paid subscription business for corporate customers and premium users.

I can assure you that at no time while I was earning stock stock options at Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis during the buildout of Martindale-Hubbell’s Lawyers.com did we experience anything like that. We rose from $39 to $41 and then fell back to $39.

LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world and by virtue of this has arguably become the largest legal directory. Lawyers and law firms are asking me about LinkedIn today, not Martindale-Hubbell any longer. They are telling me it no longer makes sense to spend what was hundreds of thousands of dollars for Martindale directory listings when they can have a firm website and LinkedIn presences for their lawyers.

Has LinkedIn made legal directories irrelevant? I don’t think so. Sites covering a vertical industry, such as the law, can offer value if done well.

Small business and consumer lawyers would do well to list themselves and network via the Avvo, Justia, and Lawyers.com sites/directories. People looking for lawyers and legal information are going to gravitate to those directories for legal information and the names of lawyers.

Lawyers doing real estate, construction, and HOA work have personally told me being listed in Avvo and answering questions on Avvo’s site has generated good work for them. I expect lawyers using Justia and Lawyers.com experience success as well. I am not as familiar with the Findlaw directory.

What about Martindale.com for lawyers doing work for larger businesses and enterprises? I probably don’t know enough. Perhaps some of you in law firms could share your feedback and some LexisNexis Martindale folks could add a comment on Martindale’s continuing value.

From afar I am not sure of Martindale’s value unless the price is reasonable. I had not been to the Martindale website until just now in as long as I can remember. News about Martindale and its offerings on the site hasn’t been updated in a year and I am not sure if anyone uses Martindale Connected.

An AV rating still commands my respect, but I am 57. I am sure Martindale still commands respect from in-house counsel, the question is how much. May sound nuts, but I am not sure most law students and recent law grads know what Martindale-Hubbell is?

When I founded LexBlog 9 years ago the first place I looked up lawyers who contacted me was on Martindale. Today it’s LinkedIn. I wonder if that’s the case for business people around the world.

What are your thoughts?

Image courtesy of Flickr by quinn.anya.