Yesterday was Debbie Harry’s 70th birthday. I’m not sure if this made me feel really old (I had Parallel Lines on 8-track, you can now listen to the whole album on YouTube), or feeling young, as I am still 20 years younger than her. Either way, I was sitting at lunch yesterday chatting about Ms. Harry’s birthday, and I noticed that an associate (and a senior associate at that) had a blank look on his face and then he said: “I have no idea who Debbie Harry is.” GASP. Debbie Harry. Lead singer for Blondie. Former Playboy Playmate. Queen of CBGB and Studio 54. Debbie Harry, come on! What next? The Sex Pistols selling out to Visa?? To answer my question, “What do Debbie Harry and Martindale-Hubbell have in common?” easy peasy: People under a certain age have no idea who or what they are. And, if they do have a slight impression of who or what they are, they don’t understand or appreciate the relevance. In the Legal Marketers Extraordinaire this morning the discussion of MH came up. I honestly didn’t realize that there were still law firms out there spending tens of thousands of dollars to keep up their listings. For perspective, the last Am-Law 50 firm I worked at walked away from MH a decade ago. They are still doing just fine, and, shockingly, people know how to find them and to evaluate whether or not the attorneys are worthy of being hired without a $100,000 annual spend on MH. It’s called Google. Or LinkedIn. Or having an RSS to their Blog feed. Or following them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. See, kids, back in the day when I worked at my first law firm right out of college, we did not have computers. What we had were these books that sat on the shelf. If you needed to find an employment lawyer in Seattle, you grabbed Martindale-Hubbell Volume 2 that included Washington State. You flipped to Seattle. You then followed your index finger up and down the pages looking for the AV-rated lawyers who did employment law. If lucky, you might know someone who worked at that firm from law school, or you might recognize the name of the firm. But you really were depending on what was on the page: law school and whether or not hey had an AV rating. It meant something back then; it helped to separate the wheat from the chaff. You then picked up the phone and starting calling to see if anyone had the experience that you needed. Each year our listings got shorter as the price increased. We fought with MH, they fought back. They always won. Then came Google. Look, I have been writing on the demise of Martindale-Hubbell for years now on this blog. Through Google searches these posts still get near daily hits:
- December, 2013: Can someone pull the plug on Martindale-Hubbell already?
- October 2009: Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings: Pay-to-Play or a Ransom Demand??
- March 2009: Martindale-Hubbell Connected – don’t lock out the gate keepers
- December 2008: Is Martindale-Hubbell’s AV Rating System officially dead?
- July 2008: Martindale Connected
- July 2008: I ♥ Martindale-Hubbell + LinkedIn
I’ll give Martindale this, they did try. It was just too late. We had moved on. In the meantime, they have sold their brand to the good folks at Internet Brands. To anyone under a certain age today, whether in-house, outside counsel, reporters, legal marketers, or your mom, Martindale-Hubbell has no meaning or relevance. I cannot tell you to subscribe, or not subscribe. I’ll just share that I have better things to spend $40,000 or more of my firm’s money on.