It is often jokingly said that “you learn something new every day.” I kind of like to think that I learn more than one new thing every day, but results fluctuate. Last week, in connection with reading about the launch of a new legal marketing network that combines Martindale-Hubbell (which is also behind www.lawyers.com) and Nolo, I learned that Martindale and Nolo are owned by the same company, Internet Brands. This same company also owns something with which I was entirely unfamiliar, Ngage Live Chat – a live chat service for lawyers.
Nolo Press is well-known as one of the pioneers for consumers in the “do-it-yourself” approach to law. The purchase of a pretty well-known commodity in the lawyer rating community by a company called Internet Brands and the fact of common ownership with Nolo seems like something I should have been aware of sooner, but c’est la vie, I guess.
This new marketing network, which will be called the Martindale-Nolo Legal Marketing Network, offers yet another indication of just how significant a push is being made by extremely well-funded companies further into the legal marketing and lead generation space. Now, of course, like other networks when they have launched, this one claims that it is now that world’s largest legal marketing network. I don’t have a good sense of whether that is true or not.
A deeper dive into the press release put out about this leaves me learning even more new things (which hopefully drives my per day average up for a while). The same company that owns Martindale-Hubbell also owns TotalAttorneys.com and a few other services including something called DisabilitySecrets.com, something called DivorceNet.com and another something called DrivingLaws.org. Total Attorneys is well known among legal ethics nerds such as myself, but if you haven’t paid a visit to its website in a while you might be surprised to see how much more expansive its offerings seem to be, in fact, it really seems like something that looks much more like a direct competitor with something like Martindale-Nolo but for the common ownership. Interestingly, while the press release references it, I have a good bit of trouble finding it anywhere on the actual Martindale-Nolo website.
The same Martindale-Nolo press release also explains what is contemplated by this particular marketing network in terms of the three “core services” it will deliver, and these clearly include things that are quite likely to be scrutinized under ethics rules referencing payments for referrals versus advertising expenses and lead generation services… which likely means that participating lawyers, at least under current ethics rules like Model Rule 7.2, will need to make sure to pay close attention to terms and conditions. (And in Tennessee it will be interesting to see if this arrangement finds its way into the basket covered by our special RPC 7.6.)
- Highly–targeted lead generation, delivered through Martindale-Nolo’s business unit in Pleasanton, Calif., connecting more than 100,000 consumers to attorneys each month from its network of websites. These sites include the high-trafficked domains of Nolo.com, Attorneys.com, AllLaw.com, TotalAttorneys.com, DisabilitySecrets.com, DivorceNet.com, DrivingLaws.org, and a variety of other practice-specific sites. Nolo.com is also highly recognized by consumers for its extensive library of legal resources.
- Professional websites and online profiles, delivered through Martindale-Hubbell’s flagship websites Martindale.com and Lawyers.com. These established websites display more than 1 million Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings and Client Review Ratings, as well as educational content to inform visitors about legal issues and processes. The New Providence, N.J.-based business unit has also built and hosted professional websites for more than 40,000 attorneys.
- Ngage Live Chat, providing 24/7 live chat service for law firm websites. Based in Austin, Texas, Ngage Live Chat uses advanced conversion techniques to deliver twice as many leads to lawyers versus standard website forms or competing chat providers.
You can go take a look yourself at this new offering here, or if you really just want to marvel at how far and fast things have changed in terms of what you think about when you think about Martindale-Hubbell, just read the lead generation portion of the site – here.