Martindale- Hubbell Connected Opens Its Barn Door

Martindale-Hubbell Connected: Professional Networking Site for Lawyers

LexisNexis has opened the doors to Martindale-Hubbell Connected, their professional networking site for lawyers. The site has been in beta for many months and still has the beta label. If you are a lawyer you can now register and join the online community: http://www.martindale.com/connected. If you are not a lawyer, you are not invited yet.

I manage to sneak into the site several months ago and finally posted Martindale-Hubbell Connected – My Thoughts last weekend. Several other commenters have offered some harsh opinions about the site for locking them out or for the problems with registration process.

Connected has been a lonely place while I have been a member. Perhaps that will change now that they are opening the community to a larger audience.

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. None of that seems to be in place yet on the launch.

One problem is that Connected is targeting the majority of lawyers instead of a crowd of early adopters. They want to be the largest online community. That is a different strategy than Legal OnRamp, another professional networking site for lawyers. Legal OnRamp is focusing on people who will contribute to that community. There is a barrier to entry and you may get kicked out if you don’t contribute.

Are online communities so mainstream that you can get lots of lawyers onboard and can skip targeting early adopters? I am skeptical. I predict that there will be many lawyers who register (or try to register), see the lack of content, and never come back. Early adopters will  see that Connected is merely a mediocre social network platform lacking many of the robust features of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Or maybe I am wrong. Register for Connected and try it out for yourself. Then come back here and leave a comment, letting us know what you thought.

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7 Responses to Martindale- Hubbell Connected Opens Its Barn Door

  1. Ohad Reshef March 31, 2009 at 3:56 pm #

    Doug,

    Thanks for helping us get our name out there and for sharing your thoughts. I do have (as usual) a couple of comments:

    1) We are not skipping the early adopters. We have invested a lot of time in efforts in talking, inviting and building relationships with people that we identified as early adopters. I believe that social (and somewhat professional) networks have crossed the chasm and are ready for popular use.

    2) In the past, the ratio between content creators (journalists etc) and content consumers was 1:1000. The internet, especially forums and blogs have changed that to 1:100. I believe that attorneys are avid content creators. Many of them have superb writing skills. What’s more, they often like to share their thoughts with others and enjoy a good debate. Therefore, I believe that MH Connected could appeal not only to this 1 out of a 1000, but to many many more.

    3) Comparing the features of the different networks is not necessarily a good parameter. Facebook has tons of features but most of them are social/leisure (and those are usually developed by 3rd parties.) Twitter has very limited functionality/features and is yet extremely successful. The name of the game is to match the features and applications of the network to the needs of the target audience (here again, we can agree that the needs of those early adopters are not the same as the mass market.) I’m very curious to get some feedback from our users and to get ideas for additional functionality that we can add. Feel free to email me (ohad.reshef@lexisnexis.com) or post here.

    Ohad
    The MH Team

    • Doug Cornelius March 31, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

      Ohad –

      I appreciate you and the rest of the MH Connected team replying to us cantankerous sorts throwing muck at your shiny new toy.

      I don’t claim to be the average lawyer or your target audience. (Whatever those may be.) And I am not an expert on online communities. It sounds like you have lots of research on those subjects.

      I realize I was just giving a bad review with no constructive feedback. (Typical lawyer.) Let me leave a detailed list of the things I don’t like:

      1. Connected offers up lots of potential connections, but it does not identify which of those are part of the connected community. I would prefer to first connect with people in the platform and not spam a bunch of people. (I know this was supposed to be an upcoming update, but you went public without it.)

      2. I find it strange to have the disconnect between the public profile on Martindale and the profile within Connected. Sometimes I end up with the generic Martindale profile and sometimes I get the richer Connected profile.

      3. In groups I am confused between the forum and the blog. They seem to operate the same, so I am not sure why there are two similar tools.

      4. The groups lack a wiki.

      5. For the profile, I am not sure what the difference is between the announcements and the blog, except the announcement seem to show up on the person’s profile.

      6. I appreciate that you thought this blog was interesting enough to have posts imported into Connected. But it is still not connected to my profile. (I have made this request a few times.)

      7. There is no way to search for groups.

      8. I am not going comment on the registration process. I registered months ago and the problems I had may not be there any more.

      9. I was hoping the community search would be linked to the legal resource search. I would want all that expertise associated with the individual profiles.

      10. There seems to separate search box, that do different things in different places on the platform.

      11. Lack of a business model. I keep hearing that there will no charge for Connected. Many are skeptical that Lexis would be giving anything away for free.

  2. Ohad Reshef April 2, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    Doug,

    Thanks – you do have some great points there and I do appreciate you taking the time to help us improve our community. Many of these things are on our short term roadmap, so you will see some fixes soon.
    Specifically – I want to refer to a couple of points:
    3. While forums and groups might look somewhat similar, the use case is different. For example, a Law School opening a group on connected would use the blog to post announcements and news, while the forum would be mostly user generated content.
    5. Announcements are somewhat like a tweet. They disappear the moment you switch them. Blog is something that stays for the long term. The display on the profile is also an important difference.
    11. Like most networks, we are searching for those premium features that users will agree to pay for. We have identified a few – for example, we launched a career center which will be integrated with MH Connected. We believe that users will agree to pay for a job posting, especially if we provide them tools (that already exist in our system) such as filtering, candidate management etc.

    I hope to continue this open conversation – it is great to be able to get instant feedback from our users. Too bad we cannot fix everything instantly too ;0 In the last few days we had a lot of traffic on MH Connected – I hope that the trend will continue and that you will feel less lonely there :0)

    Ohad

  3. acouseencam April 23, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    I’m the only one in this world. Can please someone join me in this life? Or maybe death…

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