Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory is a candidate to be replaced by Google per Wired General Counsel, a blog published by a general counsel in the Midwest.
The main reason: because it’s there, and it’s big, and it’s information rich, a perfect market in the cross-hairs of the Google mission.
The factual evidence: check out the sponsors of this conference earlier this month at Yale Law School on ‘Regulating Search: A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public Policy.’ Google did more than sponsor the event, it sent Alan Davidson, its Washington Policy Counsel and leader of the company’s new government affairs office in Washington DC. Microsoft, one of the other sponsors (you may be familiar with their work) sent Jon Zieger, an attorney who provides counsel for the MSN Search business. Surprise!
It is a specialized search engine that mines data for one narrow niche of the market place. Say jobs or travel. Or even high end real estate. Because the data sources are so fragmented, there seems to be an opportunity to massage the data and present it in a manner that is simple to use and easy to consume. Sort of meta search for niches.
As Wired pointed out “Google, is showing signs of interest in vertical search. See their tools and services page.
What strikes me is Google’s mission: “[T]o organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Martindale-Hubbell has the information on lawyers and law firms. I question whether Martindale-Hubbell’s goal is to make the information more universally accessible and useful.
As I have mentioned before, Martindale-Hubbell does not allow a full body text search or its directory to be indexed by Google. Martindale-Hubbell’s refusal or inability to make information about lawyers and law firms more universally accessible and useful is only go to heighten Google’s interest.