Martindale-Hubbell Connected Registration – Balancing Trust and Ease of Use

by Jon Lin on March 16, 2009 · 2 comments

in martindale.com,social media for lawyers

I want to respond to recent posts about people’s difficulties in joining Martindale-Hubbell Connected.  First and foremost, I want to make it clear in no uncertain terms that we are not blocking any lawyers from joining Connected.  Period.  Any lawyer who wants to join Connected, can join Connected.
Over the past 6 months, we have offered demos to many legal technologists and influencers.  Because we were in beta, we specifically wanted to walk “influencers” through the network vision, including what was yet to be built out, so that they could be aware of what the network would look like at launch time and beyond.
Now let me explain why some people are not being authenticated immediately into the network.  Unlike other online networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Legally Minded, etc., Connected authenticates that members are lawyers and they work where they say they work. We have done this because lawyers have told us that they want to have a high level of confidence and trust that the people they’re interacting with on a legal network are who they say they are.  This is one of the reasons we believe that over time, lawyers will want to join Connected (see blog post by Rick Georges).  To accomplish this, we have built some validation checks into the registration process.  While LexisNexis and Martindale-Hubbell have a large database of lawyers, law firms, and companies, we don’t have 100% coverage.  Unfortunately, these are the people we need to validate manually, a process that can take up to 3 business days. We obviously need to communicate what’s going on here better.
We know that the validation and authentication workflow has not worked as well as we expect; and as Martindale-Hubbell Connected starts to grow, the issue is compounding.  But that’s why we have betas — to allow users to try things out, so we can see what works and doesn’t.  We’ve been tinkering with this for the better part of the past year, but still have not gotten it quite right.  It is a difficult balance trying to increase security and trust to protect our members but at the same time, making the registration process easy for the user.
To that end, we are already starting to work on making improvements here and it is our highest priority right now. In particular:
1)  The messaging on current registration pages will be changed so that it will be clearer to the registrant what is happening.  We know the “your email is not matching” message is confusing to people. This will go live within the next two weeks;
2)  We also know that the workflow itself is discouraging many users from completing their registrations. A plan to revamp the entire authentication flow is in place, and is in the process of being built.
Several people have also remarked that they went through the registration process, but have never heard back from us.  If this is the case, this is human error and is not acceptable.  Please reach out to me directly at jonathan.lin@lexisnexis.com or @jonlin98 on Twitter and I will make sure that each case is personally investigated and resolved.
Finally, let me apologize to anyone who has found the experience of registering onto Connected frustrating.  One of the reasons we have a beta is so that we can uncover problems and fix them.  And that is what we are doing.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Lin Jon Lin wrote onMarch 23, 2009 at 7:23 am

You have a good point on not having the direct hyperlink to Connected from this post. I’m editing the post to add it. However, until very recently, we were in private beta testing which is why there is currently no link from martindale.com. That’s the whole point of a beta – to keep the user base controlled so that we can address user feedback before opening up more broadly. What you ran into is due to the authentication check. Your info is not wrong, it just doesn’t match what we have in our databases and we have to manually verify it. Again, we did this because that’s what lawyers told us they required from a legal network. If you try joining Legal OnRamp, guess what, they need to manually approve 100% of users. No one seems to be complaining about that process. By the way, I just did a search under Ter Rasmussen on martindale.com and don’t come up with any one by that name.

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Ter Rasmussen wrote onMarch 21, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Well I’d say that you’ve got one heckuva a way to go to get this up and running properly. First, you don’t even provide a direct hyperlink from this post to Connected so that one could easily get registered. Nor is there an easy link from Martindale’s home page so I had to actually do a Google search to even find the registration page. Then when I try to register, I’m told that yes, Martindale has my profile so I dutifully check yes that’s my profile. Yhen when I try to get in using that, I’m told that my e-mail doesn’t match. At which point I decided this is definitely NOT WORTH IT. So, all in all, a REALLY HORRIBLE AND UNBEFFECTIVE EXPERIENCE!!!!! No wonder everyone is saying such terrible things about this.

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