In August 2013 LexisNexis announced that they had entered into a joint venture with Internet Brands (the owner of Cars.com) to develop "marketing solutions" using the Martindale.com platform. Although Internet Brands is taking the lead in managing the joint venture there is no mention of Martindale on their website. Since LexisNexis owns InterAction, the leading "contact management" product which is used in many law firms - it is puzzling why some effort was not made to integrate Martindale with InterAction and other LN sources containing rich actionable client data such as Courtlink dockets.
Blogger Kevin O'Keefe recently posed the question "Does Martindale Hubbell, as we knew it still exist?" "The answer is clearly "no," and O'Keefe wonders aloud whether the Martindale brand divorced from the legacy of Martindale Hubbell has any real meaning. The announcement of the joint venture was followed by the layoff of most of the Martindale staff. These were the people who used to curate the surveys and data collected to evaluate whether lawyers and firms qualified for the for the "gold standard" AV rating. So what is left of the legacy?
A Reference Shelf Superstar. There was a time when Martindale Hubbell was probably the most heavily used reference book in the law library. It was not only the easiest way to locate lawyers and law firms, but it was chocked full of other useful information. It contained summaries of the laws of all 50 states and for hundreds of foreign countries. Need to see a sample notary form for South Dakota? Check Martindale Hubbell. Need to know the statute of limitations for breach of contract in Alabama? Check Martindale Hubbell. Need to learn about IPO requirements in Italy? Check Martindale Hubbell. Need to see the full Hague Convention on International Service of Process? You got it - check Martindale Hubbell.
The History. The Martinale Directory was created by James B Martindale in 1868. His goal was to furnish lawyers, bankers, merchants and real estate agents with the address of one reliable lawyer, banker, real estate office etc. in every city in the United States. In 1930 the company purchased the rights to the Hubbell's Legal Directory which contained a digest of law for every state. The company was purchased by Reed International (LexisNexis) in 1990. An interesting summary of the Martindale Hubbell peer review Rating system appeared in the journal Diversity and the Bar. Over the years the 2 volume set exploded into a 26 volume set containing over 1 million lawyers. It was also distributed on cd-rom, the web and on Lexis.
The Ransom Note. As I contemplated writing a blogpost, I realized that the best testament to the critical place of MH was hanging on the wall across from my desk. First you must imagine a world in which there is no World Wide Web, no Google - your desktop is not connected to a freely available ocean of facts. On May 5, 1987 I sent out a memo to all the lawyers at Shea & Gould pleading for the return of the New York Martindale Hubbell volumes. This was a fairly regular occurrence. There was no firmwide email system. The style of the memo makes we wonder if it was -- yikes! -- typed on a typewriter.
The memo: "Once again both copies of the New York Martindale Hubbell are missing. Please contact the Library immediately if you know where these volumes are located." When I returned from lunch I found a ransom note on my desk. (Reproduced below) I was secretly delighted at the outbreak of pure fun mid-day.
The ransom note reads: "They're being held for ransom. If we don't receive $1 billion in small unmarked bills by one pm today, both volumes will be executed. We mean business!"
I showed it to litigation partner, Martin Shelton who laughed and responded "If you find out who wasted time doing this, I'm going to fire them." Then I showed it to firm's chief prankster and corporate partner, Arnold S. Jacobs of "Rule 10b-5 fame," who said "Find out who did it, I want to give them a raise."
My best recollection is that I later discovered that it was done by two associates, a litigator and a corporate associate. I believe they were both named "David." If only I had a 1987 copy of Martindale Hubbell, I might be able to figure it out!
I later framed the ransom note and to this day it hangs in my office as a reminder of a lost world. It is like an ancient map inscribed with exotic legends... "here be dragons." I imagine a white gloved appraiser on Antiques Roadshow ..." What you have here is an original example of late 20th century large, law firm associate folk art. It is virtually priceless."
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