Martindale-Hubbell lawyer ratingsThat’s the question asked by Heather Milligan on word of Martindale-Hubbell’s elimination of their Rating Specialists.

Milligan, Director of Marketing at Barger & Wolen LLP and leading contributor to the Legal Marketing Association received an e-mail on Friday from a peer at LexisNexis’ Martindale-Hubbell division notifying her that not only was she let go, so was her entire department.

I want to let you know that I will be leaving Martindale-Hubbell at the end of the month. The Rating Specialist positions for Martindale-Hubbell have been eliminated, so that means that I will not be coming to visit you to review your firm’s ratings initiatives. I am told that some of the other people who visit your firm from Martindale or LexisNexis may add the ratings items to their meetings with you.

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings Specialists (MH pdf) work closely with larger law firm clients to educate, engage and assist their lawyers in the peer review process.

It’s possible Martindale-Hubbell can continue with lawyer ratings, a lynchpin of the company’s lawyer offerings, without ratings specialists. The elimination of their positions may just be an effort to trim costs in the face of large law firms eliminating their Martindale-Hubbell subscriptions.

But Milligan, a widely respected legal marketing professional, views the elimination of the ratings specialists as the end of the line for Martindale-Hubbell ratings.

I don’t know if this is a case of chicken or the egg, but by eliminating the Rating Specialist positions, LexisNexis has shown what their commitment to the Martindale-Hubbell Ratings System product is. Or, was it our lack of support for the Ratings product what prompted LexisNexis to abandon it?

Either way, it appears that the Martindale-Hubbell AV Ratings System is officially dead, or, at the least, on ‘dissolution watch.

25 years ago when I started practicing a Martindale-Hubbelll AV rating was seen as a big deal. However, the lawyers I’ve talked with over the last few years found the ratings of little value.

Sure, all things being equal, lawyers like having an AV rating. But with the advent of the Internet, lawyers know there’s much more meaningful information available to look at when selecting a lawyer.

  • I think it is dead. Pay to play directory such as Martindale Hubbell is not appealing to solos. While it may be a useful tool for lawyers who need to find assistance out of their geographic area, it is not likely to be used for local referrals. Also, the rise of Avvo has made a difference as well.

  • I think it’s dead. However, I think Martindale’s search function has grown tremendously, especially for a free service.
    In my opinion, the ability to find and locate lawyers and law firms who specialize in the services you need ends up being more useful than an AV rating. In addition, you may search by your school or by their school and you have a way to build a relationship with your attorney rather than rely on any type of rating. Isn’t it true that past results do not guarantee future results?
    Plus, we all know that rating systems are flawed.

  • From the perspective of an attorney in an approximately 25 lawyer practice in Des Moines, I’d have to agree it is on watch. Many lawyers, including my father who is a solo practitioner from a small town in Northern Iowa, relish the AV rating and everything it stood for. Large firms in Iowa continue to be run by attorneys of my father’s genre. As they retire, I believe there will be a lessened value to the Martindale Hubbell system and ultimately, its demise. Seeing as how Iowa is generally behind the curve on things like this, it may be one of the last hold-outs.

  • If AV ratings are losing meaning among attorneys, then it means nothing for the public. None of our clients know what an AV rating means. We spend time educating the public what it means. Why am I doing that? MH should be doing that. Being a Board Certified Specialist means more.

  • Last year LexisNexis sent out a mass mailing to lawyers requiring a $50/lawyer annual payment to ‘maintain’ the Martindale listings. This was met with general hilarity and ridicule on ABA’s SoloSEZ, and I had a face-to-face meeting with marketing staff at LexisNexis where I politely ‘suggested’ what they do with the request for $50.
    I cannot point to one client in nearly 30 years who said, “I hired you because you are AV rated.” I can, however, point to dozens of vendors who tried to sell me stuff “because you’re AV rated.”
    And don’t get me started about the AV rated lawyers whom I have had before me when on the hearing committees for our Disciplinary Board.
    Good riddance.

  • The Death of AV (Update: MH Responds)

    Kevin O’Keefe reports that Martindale-Hubbell, the grande dame of lawyer raters, appeared to have given up.

  • Mitch Cumstein

    The ratings are not dead – they’ve killed the ratings department team that did in-person ratings reviews on large firms. Quite frankly it was a bloated role that had only been around for the last 5 years, and previous to that had been handled by the MH Reps. No, the rating process is not dead.

  • I’ve been a bankruptcy attorney in Phoenix, Arizona for about thirty years.
    In my experience, sometimes clients come in because of referrals, sometimes because of board certification, sometimes because of a Martindale AV rating (or listing) and recently because of AVVO ratings. Or a bankruptcy blog!
    Like the lawyers who have spoken above, I also find it ironic that Martindale demands $50.00 to list the fact that an attorney has achieved an AV rating. But I still pony up the dough. Because sophisticated business clients remember the last time they asked in-house counsel for an Arizona bankruptcy lawyer and in-house counsel said, No problem, I’ll get you one who has an AV rating.

  • Patrick Clark

    having retired from lexis nexis in 2010 after 34 years as a sales rep, one of the best moves lexis made was getting the lexis reps to stop selling martindale as someone who cared very much that my customers got the best customer service, it became impossible to deal with martindale management as regards getting customers website problems and other product areas satisfied answers. they just didn’t care after the sale was made. I am sorry that some fine longtime salesreps from martindale lost their jobs and I hope the company who takes over shows a much better commitment to customer service than martindale did.