I have been a member of the Martindale-Hubbell Connected community for several months. I met John Lipsey, Vice President, Corporate Counsel Services for LexisNexis in September at a speaking engagement on Social Networking for Lawyers. John told the story of why Connected would be a great resource for lawyers.
The lure of Connected is the idea of combining an online networking community, the Martindale-Hubbell lawyer listings, and the enormous pool of data in the Lexis databases. Theoretically, your lawyer listing, articles, cases, news, and people connections would be all linked together in one place. As with blogging, you could show your expertise through the stuff you write, the cases you work on, the transactions you work on and the news about you. Then you tie that all information to a central profile and connect with the people you know.
That’s a great story. They even put together this snazzy video to prove it:
But so far it is just a story.
The site is merely a social network site with a connection to Martindale-Hubbell listings. So far there is no connection to the substantive Lexis content. Even the social networking tools are mediocre.
I was told that there are some major upgrades and changes coming soon as they plan to open Connected to a wider audience at the end of March.
To be fair, Connected is not a disaster like the ABA’s LegallyMinded. But, Connected does not have the interesting community of users and content like Legal OnRamp, a similar platform. Connected does not have the large population of users like LinkedIn and Facebook. Connected also lacks many of the rich features of LinkedIn and Facebook.
Part of Connected’s approach is create an authenticated community. So that the person is who they say they are. An interesting approach, but to me it seems like a lot of work for little value. (Perhaps they are scarred by the squatters holding LexisNexis in Twitter.) The authentication seems designed around the Martindale listing. So to start you need to be a lawyer to get. Apparently they are going to open Connected to the larger legal community sometime this summer (according to Kathleen Delaney in the comment to this post).
Frankly, I am not sold on having a gated community for a broad legal community. What would I publish or say in Connected that I would not otherwise say on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn? I am an early adopter, so maybe the general legal population would be more likely to contribute in Connected than on one of the public platforms? I am skeptical.
I have not written about Connected because there is not much to write about. It is sparsely populated and lacks content. I am one of the few non-Lexis people doing much with it. (As a curmudgeon, I mostly complain about the lack of features and the stuff that does not work.) They do replicate Compliance Building in Connected (a brilliant decision), but they have had trouble tying the posts to my Connected profile.
Lexis slapped the “beta” label on Connected because they are still working on it. Either they have a lot of work to do, or the site is intended to be mediocre.