Reed Elsevier logoAlex Hawkes (@alexhawkes) reports in the UK’s This is Money this morning that LexisNexis parent, ‘Reed Elsevier in U-turn as boycott bites.’

Reed Elsevier has slashed the price of one of its magazine titles amid a boycott over the prices of its publications. Almost 8,000 academics around the world are refusing to write for the publisher’s journals, accusing it of charging ‘exorbitantly high prices’. Reed suddenly cut the annual subscription price of Explorations In Economic History from £58 to £31 after the journal’s editor Dr Tim Leunig publicly criticised the group’s reaction to the boycott.

Dr Tim Leunig (@timleunig), editor of Reed Elsevier’s Explorations In Economic History, publicly criticized the response to the boycott by Reed Elsevier CEO Erik Engstrom as a merely a misunderstanding with its contributors, editors, and purchasers.

He should be honest and state that in many cases his journals have an element of monopoly power.

Imagine law firms and libraries standing up to the LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters Westlaw duopoly and getting a 47% price reduction in packaged legal research. With companies such as Justia and Fastcase working on making the law free, the day is going to come. The Reed Elsevier response to the boycott, which I wrote about here, is only going to bring increasing pressure from the financial community that Reed Elsevier sell LexisNexis, which I have written about here and here.

LexisNexis Social Media Visibility“There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase credited to American showman, P. T. Barnum. Barnum’s friends and acquaintances told him the quote was out of character for him. Barnum’s credo was more along the lines of “there’s a customer born every minute” — he wanted to find ways to draw new customers in all the time because competition was fierce and people could become bored easily. Either way, a sucker born every minute or people easily bored being sold things by fierce competitors, the concept aptly applies to lawyers and law firms buying Internet marketing products. The latest is LexisNexis – Martindale-Hubbell Search Engine Social Media Visibility product. Continue Reading LexisNexis Social Media Visibility : PT Barnum incarnate?

I heard that Reed Elsevier was feeling pressure from investors to divest some of its publishing divisions, but I did not think it would be something as big as the LexisNexis division.

Turns out LexisNexis may be for sale. Nick Fletcher (@nickfletchergdn) of the Guardian reports this morning on a possible LexisNexis sale.

Reed Elsevier is facing growing investor calls for it to make some big strategic decision, the most likely of which, say some, is a sale of the group’s US legal business. Top of the likely buyers would be Bloomberg. The stock was down a shade this morning —slipping 1p to 516.5p by midday — but has steadily rebuilt from recent lows recorded last summer.

The announcement in October that long-serving finance director Mark Armour is to depart by the end of 2012 was read by many investors as a signal that change was in the air. Armour had been a close ally of departed chief executive Sir Crispin Davis.

The sale of the US business LexisNexis and other operations other than the core Elsevier business could generate a £1.4bn to £2.3bn boost for shareholders, according to analysts at Bernstein Research.

Boy, would that be irony. Lou Andreozzi, the former CEO of LexisNexis and now Chair of Bloomberg Legal, back heading LexisNexis.

LexisNexis blogsNever saw LexisNexis as a company that would include in its mission to serve the American lawyer or the public which lawyers in turn serve.

The latest evidence is LexisNexis’s threat to Baltimore e-discovery lawyer, W. Lawrence Wescott II. A threat that resulted in Wescott shuttering his well respected and award winning Electronic Discovery Blog (.png as blog as been taken offline).

As reported by Robert Ambrogi this week:

Until [May 26], the URL led to a blog on e-discovery law written by lawyer W. Lawrence Wescott II. Today, that blog is gone. Wescott took it down after a lawyer from LexisNexis threatened legal action over a claimed unauthorized use of LexisNexis cases. The blog was among the ABA Journal Blawg 100 honorees in 2007.

Per Wescott, in a blog post titled simply, ‘Farewell:’

Lexis has informed me that I do not have permission to use their cases on this blog. I went back and looked at my original agreement, and it was in fact only for a year. It’s been three years since I started this blog, and it has been a good run. Therefore, I am shutting down the blog.

Per Ambrogi, when Wescott started the blog, Wescott contacted LexisNexis and was given written permission to post up to 1,000 cases for a year. From the Web Archive of Wescott’s blog, it appears that permission was granted in LexisNexis in 2007.

Maybe it was the year running from 2007 that expired? Maybe it was threats from companies focused on serving lawyers and the public, which companies are making our law more accessible (reasonable cost or free) than LexisNexis does that made for the change of heart on LexisNexis’ part?

Maybe LexisNexis will explain in a comment here?

I received word from a law firm marketing and client development professional that, effective this January, the LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory is increasing the charge by 1,200% for displaying lawyer ratings for lawyers who don’t subscribe to Martindale-Hubbell.

For decades Martindale-Hubbell displayed a lawyer’s and law firm’s peer reviewed rating free of charge. First in hard copy volumes and then online.

An ‘AV Rating,’ the highest a lawyer or law firm could attain, was aspired to by young lawyers and law firms, and was widely viewed as a significant factor to consider when selecting a lawyer or sizing up an opponent in the case of another lawyer.

Lawyers and law firms were rated whether they were a subscriber to the Martindale directory or not. Subscribers paid thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands of dollars for large law firms) to have profiles of their firm and lawyers displayed in what was generally accepted as the premier lawyer directory in country.

Two years ago, Martindale started charging an administrative fee of $50 to display the rating. If a lawyer or law firm didn’t subscribe to Martindale-Hubbell by paying a pretty significant fee, you pay the admin fee or your rating would no longer be displayed on what was being billed as the most widely viewed lawyer directory.

Starting in January 2010, Martindale will apparently no longer display a lawyer’s or law firm’s ratings, at any charge, unless the lawyer or law firm is a subscriber of the directory.

The below is an email which this legal marketing professional tells me was sent to them by LexisNexis Martindale.

As of January 1, 2010, the Ratings display will be taken down for any non-subscribing attorneys or law firm. Moving forward, the only options for Ratings display/subscription status are: 1) our three subscription packages (Standard, Enhanced or Platinum) or 2) our individual lawyer non-sub package which is currently priced at $599 an attorney. This policy change dictates that one of these subscription options is needed otherwise the attorney rating will come down effective Jan 1, 2010. There is no longer an admin fee as a solo option.

The new offer is $599 for an individual lawyer profile that includes the following:

  • Offers the individual lawyer unlimited online content, including the inclusion of membership in organizations, awards, publications, etc. Allows for complete control over the length and depth of the online profile content without restrictions. The more content provided, the more information prospective clients have to make a decision when selecting counsel. And, the content is searchable – over 1.7 million searches are conducted on per month.
  • Offers individual lawyers the opportunity to take advantage of the many resources of Martindale-Hubbell.
  • Is available to lawyers who wish to further showcase their expertise and credentials to their clients, prospective clients and other legal professionals that trust when selecting outside counsel.
  • Offers added functionality on Martindale-Hubbell Connected allowing the lawyer to create groups and invite others to join the group; create blogs and forums; and build their individual network.
  • Was created in response to lawyers that asked to subscribe individually on even though their firm had cancelled their MH subscription.
  • Display’s the lawyer’s Peer Review Rating online.
  • Allows the lawyer’s Chambers icon to display.
  • Allows the subscribing lawyer to take full advantage of Client Review Ratings online.

No question lawyers and law firms receive more as a subscriber to Martindale than those who merely paid an admin fee for their ratings to be displayed.

But it’s questionable whether law firms see as much value in the above features as Martindale does. In which case, aren’t these firms going to feel they are being blackmailed into remaining as subscribers? With the advent of the Internet bringing law firm websites, Google, blogs, social media, and so many other Web 2.0 marketing alternatives, law firms no longer seeing the value of heavy annual Martindale subscription prices are leaving the directory.

Martindale may also be shooting itself in the foot here. Martindale just released a survey on the value of ratings, particularly reliable ratings. But having a pay-for-play ratings service, in which many good law firms are going to choose not to play, is going to make the Martindale ratings more and more unreliable.

How do you compare law firms and lawyers by ratings when the directory won’t disclose the ratings for half of the lawyers and firms? How do you send out LexisNexis sales people touting the above survey on the value of lawyer ratings as a reason to subscribe to Martindale at the same time you’re sabotaging your own ratings system?

Martindale’s been a great company and directory. They have an asset of gold. Detailed and reliable lawyer and law firm profiles provided by law firms for decades because they trusted Martindale. I fear Martindale is tearing this relationship of trust to the ground.

While you still can Martindale, why not leverage this asset of lawyer profiles in an innovative fashion that conforms with where the Internet has taken us?

  • As I posted earlier, get your ratings everywhere immediately through an open API.
  • Include peer reviewed ratings on all lawyer and law firm profiles free of charge.
  • Contact other websites in the legal profession who would pay to use your detailed and reliable ratings. Getting reliable lawyer profiles that law firms work hard to keep accurate is no small feat. You’ve done it for years with a talented editorial team.
  • Like Google and other smart companies, focus on your core strength. Yours is having a talented editorial team that profiles lawyers and law firms.

The legal profession needs you, Martindale. There are emerging lawyer directories (Avvo, Justia, Nolo, Super Lawyers) taking hold who offer significant value to lawyers and to the American public, but there’s still a place for a premier directory for the American lawyer and the nation we serve.

It’s not the time to respond by saying “We’re a new company. We’re listening to law firms, in-house counsel, and consumers – we have surveys to back it up. We’re looking at all sorts of new things. The profession will be surprised and pleased with what’s coming.”

We’ve heard that for almost 10 years from Martindale executives who have come and gone. It’s time for real leadership and decisive action.

Larry Bodine, despite being an early sceptic, blogs that LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell’s legal community, Martindale Connected, is continuing to grow.

Back on March 31, Martindale Connected launched with 3,000 members and a headwind of skepticism.  Despite this, the online social network has crested over 12,000 members in just 4 months. I joined myself, made a few connections and am experimenting by starting some discussions.

LexisNexis has its PR machine cranked up touting the successes of Connected. Maybe for reason, maybe Bodine’s caught up in it, I don’t know. I’d like to know what you as members of our legal profession see.

  • Have you heard of Connected? Do you know what it is?
  • Are you or members of your law firm registered as members of Connected?
  • If so, are you or your firm members regular users of Connected?
  • If you are not using Connected, is it in your plans?
  • If you’re an in-house counsel, are you using Connected? Do you have plans to?

When it comes to networking through the net, I’m of record that the open net where you control your presence and can engage your target audience as you want is the way to go. Others believe legal professionals need a closed community keeping members of the public out.

Not sure how the later makes sense, even in the case of engaging in-house counsel. Lawyers looking to enhance their reputation as thought leaders are going to spend their time where it generates the highest ROI.

A public interface through blogging, an effective use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and maybe even Facebook gets a lawyer out where they are seen by clients, prospective clients, referral sources, reporters, conference coordinators, bloggers, and publishers.

I’m not sure how a closed community matches that. And even if the closed community has some value, do lawyers have time to do both?

What do you think? Do you see the value in Martindale Connected?

Those of you who follow Robert Scoble know that over the last few days he’s been deleting people people he follows on Twitter (down from over 100,000 to less than 2,000).

The reasons, among probably others. Too much spam via direct messages from people he follows back after they follow him. And there’s no way to get to know 100,000 people.

Robert’s one of the guys who’s taught me what I know about blogs, social media, and how people relate to each other online. (no side comments about that’s why I am so dumb) He’s on to something with his deleting followers on Twitter.

You have no idea how much crap I get from people I follow who start following me. Who was the idiot who started teaching that Twitter is a targeted direct mail campaign tool. People without any money or common sense use as Twitter direct messaging as an alternative to calling me unsolicited at my office or home offering me products and services I have no interest in.

And I’m not only talking about the clowns who get as many Twitter followers as possible so they can claim to make ‘Thousands of Dollars a Week’ sending out direct messages. I’m talking about the LexisNexis’ and Martindale-Hubbell’s of the world who when I followed one of their Twitter accounts, I got an automated direct message hawking one of their publications or services.

Scoble says he’s “unfollowing idiots like @techstartups that send auto DMs. I +hate+ that practice!” I’m doing the same.

Historically, I’ve followed a Twitter philosophy of following people I learn from, people I want to learn more about, organizations in the legal industry, mainstream media, and people with a real name (not a company or pseudonym) who began to follow me.

I felt it common courtesy to follow those who followed me. Following thousands of people I never tried to see everyone’s Tweets. But it did allow folks to reach out and direct message me (you cannot direct message someone who doesn’t follow you on Twitter).

I’m now unfollowing people who send me these type of automated direct messages after I follow them. They’re junk. And they’re coming from people who haven’t gotten to first base in understanding how Twitter is used as a relationship building/client development tool.

  • Today was so exciting! Made $124 in 20 minutes! if ur interested, go read: – from Christopher Missick
  • Thanks for following Martindale-Hubbell Careers. Please come visit us at…. Feel free to DM for any questions or just to share ideas. – from MHCareers
  • Hi! Tweet me one fun fact about you, and I’ll tweet you one fun fact about me. – from Julia Kline
  • Thanks for following please check out my blog Will be great if you can add some comments on it. – from Christopher Hardin at LawInfoBlog
  • Thank you for following! For quality legal resources you can count on from lawinfo
  • Thanks for the Follow! Get a Free Credit Report: – from Bellevue_News
  • LexisNexis® New Zealand is a leading global provider of content-enabled workflow solutions to professionals in law firms, corporations, government, law enforcement, tax, accounting, academic institutions and risk and compliance assessment. – from LexisNexis_NZ

Unlike Scoble, I’ll probably continue to follow thousands of people on Twitter. The majority will be legal professionals, both those who follow me and those who I find on Twitter who are not already following me.

I like most lawyers and legal professionals. I think they’re good people and Twitter allows me discover more about them and to exchange thoughts outside of email. It also makes sense being CEO of a company offering a service to legal professionals that I’d like to build relationships with more legal professionals.

But I’m on board Scoble’s campaign of unfollowing the Twitter spammers of the world. You ought to start unfollowing them too. Viral action of the masses does more to bring social etiquette to the net than anything else.

LexisNexis’ social networking community for lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, is in trouble. Connected is late to the game, it’s not being well received by the lawyers now trying it, and worst of all is LexisNexis’ lack of understanding how to use the Internet and social networking/media to build a following for its social networking site.

The latest comes this morning when Martindale tells folks via Twitter they have been soliciting feedback on Connected from lawyers, including me, for the last 9 months. Total bunk.

Martindale-Hubbell Connected

Getting feedback on a web based service means giving people access to your website. I applied to get into Connected 8 months ago. Here’s the email I received in response. I didn’t hear back.

LexisNexis Martindale Connected

Upon further inquiry, I received this email from Pat Washburn, Community Manager, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, telling me I cannot get into Connected until Q1 of 2009.

Martindale Connected

Though I did exchange emails with John Lipsey, LexisNexis Vice President of Corporate Counsel Services, about a demo and I may have even canceled one scheduled call with him, I was told I would not be given access to Connected to test it. By that time, I already received PowerPoints Martindale was using to demo the product to law firms so I passed on what I thought would be a marketing story, as opposed to real testing.

I heard nothing from Martindale about getting into Connect until I brow beat them by blogging and twittering 10 days ago that I was being refused access to Connected at the same time law firms were asking me to comment on Connected during speaking engagements around the country. LexBlog’s clients and my blog readers were also regularly asking about Connected as they do with Legal OnRamp, and LinkedIn, two other social networking communities we are all given ready access to.

A week ago last Sunday LexisNexis employees told me all lawyers, including me, can get into Connected. ‘It just may take a few days after registration.’ Then another LexisNexis employee tells me the next day no, ’employees were told at a recent national sales meeting, that membership is still limited to corporate counsel.’

I finally got in Connected a week ago and shared my commentary and that of Doug Cornelius’ in a blog post about Connected on Saturday. A fair amount of negative commentary about Connected on blogs and Twitter followed – from lawyers, law firm marketing professionals, and law firm knowledge management people.

Social networking for professionals in this down economy has never been bigger. It’s well accepted that LinkedIn’s tremendous growth is in part driven by people looking for jobs and new clients. However, LexisNexis is late to the game and is only getting later.

For LexisNexis to pull Connected out of its tail spin they ought to get Connected open as fast they can and make sure its open to those people who will influence its acceptance.

  • Others like me who are commenting and speaking on the subject. Law firms are not only listening to us, they are seeking our advice. It may be shocking, but we as commentators and presenters are more trusted than your marketing and sales people.
  • Lawyers who are early adopters of technology who are having so much trouble registering to get into Connected. They blog and Twitter about their experiences. Their comical exchanges about the frustrations of getting in and then having trouble correcting profiles is not a laughing matter.
  • Legal Marketing professionals such as Heather Milligan, who reminded Martindale they may wish to open Connected to those who will be charged to train lawyers how to use Connected. Law firms are not going to have their lawyers using Connected unless professionals like Milligan believe it worthwhile. That’s not going to happen with a video and PowerPoint. Not letting professionals like Milligan in until later this year is not only treating her like a second class citizen, but a poor social networking strategy.
  • Law firm social networking and knowledge management experts such as Connie Crosby, who commented at my blog that by locking out non lawyer professionals LexisNexis was missing the boat on getting word the out and getting people using Connected.

The days of launching a web based product without seeking real feedback and ownership from users and early adopters are over. The days of closed communities locking out those who may speak frankly and openly about community experiences are over. The days of a controlled PR campaign without integrity and transparency are over.

LexisNexis, with all the financial resources it has and Martindale’s ready database of lawyers has a huge advantage in getting Connected to market and well received by its target users, but unless the ship is righted immediately we could all be watching a tremendous expense of capital – people and money, on a product that’s never going anywhere.

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.

Just exchanged Twitter messages with New York Attorney Scott Greenfield. I explained to Scott that if he had been able to attend the LexisNexis sponsored LegalTech panels on blogging and online networking, that Scott would not have been able to resist calling BS on the panelists.

That would have been especially true as to the presentation by John Lipsey, VP Corporate Counsel Services for LexisNexis, who appeared to run a standard PowerPoint he uses as an intro to Martindale-Hubbell’s long discussed, but never launched, social networking site, Martindale-Hubbell Connected.

LexisNexis sponsored the Web 2.0 trek at LegalTech New York. As such, LexisNexis, I am told, got to pre-approve all speakers on the panels at the sessions. I was invited and accepted to speak on one the Web 2.0 panels months ago but was ‘apparently bumped off the panels‘ by LexisNexis when LexisNexis reviewed those invited to present.

The result of LexisNexis sponsored panels was taking exciting topics such as blogging, social networking, and social media and turning them into pretty boring sessions. I’ve seen record attendance at similar sessions the last year for legal professionals in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Portland. At each of those events no one left and many crowded the stage to ask panelists questions.

At LegalTech’s LexisNexis online networking session at least 25% of the crowd exited early, with many more who would have liked to. With 10 minutes to go in a 75 minute session, an attendee raised their hand and asked for one example of how online networking could be used for client development and if one of the presenters had a good example. 65 minutes in and you’ve left the audience asking what good could come of using mediums that Fortune 200 companies and lawyers are using in innovative and exciting ways for business development, PR, and customer service.

Watching the Twitter discussion about the panel became the most entertaining part of the session. (@GabeAcevedo: @LTNY online networking panel. This is not what I expected. Must either leave/kill self soon as possible.) If we would have followed one person’s tweet suggestion that we take a sip of water each time a panelist said Martindale, we’d have drowned.

If I’m not familiar with blogging and attended the LexisNexis sponsored blogging session to help make the decision on blogging, I’d pass. Law firms talking of printing out blog pages to get copyright protection. Law firms matter-of-factly not allowing comments on a blog because of liability and ethics fears that were never challenged.

At non legal technology and new media conferences I attend, these type of sessions would never be allowed. They’re looking for innovators. They’re looking for excitement. They’re looking for people who don’t try to spam the audience with presentations discussing their own products, let alone stack panels with promoters of your products and with people who do not challenge sponsors.

If non legal technology conferences pulled the BS pulled in the LexisNexis sponsored online networking and blogging sessions, conference attendees would have revolted. Attendees would have called BS and conference spam right from their seats in the audience. Panelists would have been put on the spot. Discussion, some heated, between the panelists and the audience would have ensued.

Perhaps that’s too much for the legal profession. But at a minimum, we in the legal profession should demand more. It’s not enough that bloggers are critical and that the twitter discussion makes fun of the panels. Email conference coordinators and demand better. Email the conference presenters and the CEO’s of their companies, especially those promoting their products from the stage and complain. Comment on the presenter’s blog posts telling their readers how great the presentation was. Voice complaints through comments on their corporate blogs.

It’s clear LexisNexis has no shame on this front. They also have a vested interest in keeping a muzzle on innovative thought leaders who may shine a light on less costly and more effectively client development solutions than those sold by LexisNexis.

Incisive Media put on a heck of a conference in LegalTech. There must have been two or three hundred exhibitors. Networking between attendees was great. But to put this conference over the top, let’s shoot for the best when it comes to innovative presenters. Don’t limit speakers to those vetted by LexisNexis or other companies. Don’t let presenters use the stage to market their wares.

Ultimately, it comes down to the us in the legal community as a whole to speak out and demand more. With the advent of blogs, Twitter, and online transparency we’ve never had a better chance. And don’t just send me side notes and emails because you feel intimidated to speak out (I receive many), speak up.

Imagine open and engaging education sessions about social media, effective Internet client development, online word of mouth marketing, effective PR online, effective blogging, and online networking. It can happen if we demand it.

And if the traditional companies such as LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and Incisive Media won’t serve it up, we’ll put on alternative conferences bringing in the best and brightest.

The legal community, lagging other professions, as well as the people and organizations to which we provide legal services has so much to gain through innovation across our industry. Innovation needs to begin with real teaching and evangelizing to the masses in our profession. Let’s bring it about for the benefit of us all.