It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since we launched Martindale-Hubbell Connected, now the premier online professional network for the legal profession. The phenomenal growth of the network over the past 12 months stands as a testament to incredibly hard work by the motivated and talented team at Martindale and, of course, to the collaborative input and active participation of thousands of legal professionals who’ve helped us to shape the network along the way.
I thought it appropriate today to share some background on why we created Connected and how its creation fits into the broader transformation of Martindale-Hubbell.
Through research and conversations with clients going back as early as 2007, it became clear to us that competing priorities and work commitments were making it more difficult than ever for legal professionals to engage in the kind of face-to-face networking that has always served them as a critical means of business and professional development. The economic downturn only exacerbated the problem.
At roughly the same time, research conducted by our friends at Leader Networks showed that attorneys were turning to online networking in record numbers and that there was strong demand for an online professional network designed specifically for their profession. Lawyers, we found out, wanted a focused, legal-only network that was distinct and different from what was available via broader, social networking sites. Through discussions with literally hundreds of lawyers, we began to see the possibilities inherent in leveraging the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Network as the backbone of just such a community.
Our vision was to reinvent the company’s flagship product, Martindale.com, taking it from static directory to a dynamic, vibrant online community where legal professionals could connect, communicate and collaborate. This online community, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, would provide members the ability to leverage the existing Martindale-Hubbell Legal Network of more than one million lawyers (representing 50 million+ possible connections) to uncover new relationships and trusted referrals, share information and insights, and efficiently collaborate in a virtual community. The system would also access court records to suggest connections with other lawyers a Connected member had teamed with or faced in court. Further, we teamed with LinkedIn to enable Connected members to identify and leverage their LinkedIn relationships from within Connected.
We also wanted to provide Connected members with authoritative information both created and collected by LexisNexis such as statistics, counsel-created research, competitor profiles, marketing trends, ratings, polls, and more — giving them information they couldn’t get anywhere else.
From the very beginning we recognized the value in sharing our plans and actively engaging with lawyers, marketing professionals, influencers and stakeholders across the legal industry to solicit their opinions and advice on the development of Connected. Sharing the company’s plans for Connected, inviting beta testers and soliciting comments and ideas from literally hundreds of lawyers provided invaluable feedback that continues to help us shape and adapt the network.
Launched one year ago with 3,000 beta users, the network has since grown to nearly 30,000 members across 115+ countries. Membership includes inside counsel representing more than half of the Fortune 500 as well as lawyers from 98 of the AmLaw 100. 17% of our members are based outside of the U.S. and to date, 700 active groups have formed within the community, where members collaborate and share ideas on a number of legal issues. In addition, more than 2,300 members have participated in nine Connected community webinars to date. We’ve also enlisted 10 prominent legal organizations and associations as “Martindale-Hubbell Connected Alliance Partners.”
Connected was recognized in 2009 with a Silver Award from Law Technology News and with a 2009 Commendation of Excellence Award from SNCR. More recently, Connected was named a CODiE Award Finalist in the Best Social Networking Solution category (winners will be announced in May). While we’re more elated by the amazing growth in membership and in the levels and types of engagement we’re seeing within Connected, awards like these are pretty nice too. As my colleague, John Lipsey pointed out in his February 23 blog post, this kind of industry recognition “…provides additional validation that Martindale, renowned for over a century as the resource for connecting corporate counsel with outside counsel, remains at the forefront, with a new, growing and vibrant online community.”
So, in celebration of Connected’s one-year anniversary, a heartfelt thank you to the Martindale team but also to the many lawyers, bloggers, analysts and other legal professionals who’ve shared their feedback with us along the way. We thank you for your help and hope you will continue to share with us your ideas on ways we might improve to better serve the needs of the legal community.