A few months ago LexisNexis and Internet Brands announced they would form a joint venture.
LexisNexis would contribute its Martindale-Hubbell online marketing solutions and Lawyers.com (started and run by Martindale) businesses. Internet Brands would utilize its technology platform and online marketing expertise to manage the joint venture.
The Martindale-Hubbell and lawyers.com “brands” live on, but does Martindale-Hubbell still exist as lawyers have come to know the company.
Martindale-Hubbell has been a legacy brand and company for decades. Martindale was founded in 1868 as a book by which lawyers could look up a lawyer in an adjoining Midwest state. Martindale grew to about a dozen volumes listing almost every lawyer in the United States and a good number of lawyers internationally.
Martindale, used almost exclusively by lawyers (private practice or in-house corporate counsel) to look up other lawyers, rated most lawyers and law firms on a sliding scale from AV to CV.
The Martindale rating was the gold standard. During my 20 years in law school and practice, every lawyer looked up lawyers and their rating – whether because they were on “the other side” or to find a lawyer with whom to associate.
Internet Brands was founded in 1998 as CarsDirect.com. The company now operates over 100 websites ranging from skincare to bed and breakfast sites. No question, the publicly traded company, can draw website traffic with its sites drawing 100 million unique visitors a month.
Internet Brands recently bought a few legal web companies, including Nolo. Nolo Press, which recently added a legal directory, was built as self help legal publisher. A good one – online and offline.
From the announcement of the joint venture, it always felt like something more to me. Perhaps a sale or license of Martindale-Hubbell brands to Internet Brands.
The elimination of 205 jobs by LexisNexis as a result of the “joint venture” sure made it feel like things would not be jointly operated. After all, most of the people who lost their jobs worked at Martindale-Hubbell for years.
Maybe a company is just a brand? I don’t know. But Martindale-Hubbell always felt like something more than that to me. Martindale was an impressive publisher, a legacy company, that provided lawyers a valuable service for over 100 years.
Perhaps Martindale, as we knew it, is just another victim of the Internet. Who knows?
Does Martindale-Hubbell, with its legacy directory and lawyer ratings, still exist as we knew it? What are you law firms hearing from Martindale and LexisNexis?