Seems that Client Relationship Management (CRM) expenses aren’t the only perceived wasteful expenditures on a law firm’s balance sheet. One other costly resource that firms seem to be taking another look at lately is their Martindale-Hubbell contracts. One librarian from a mid-sized Georgia firm decided to query her peers to see if they also thought that M-H was worth the investment. Although this isn’t a comprehensive or scientific survey, it seems to show that the return on investment for Martindale-Hubbell doesn’t seem to match up with the cost.

Hmm… anyone else notice that both the CRM and M-H products are touted as resources for the attorneys, but end up essentially as resources for the Marketing department??

Here are the comments from other librarians about the ROI of M-H:

One thought:  can the firm attorneys QUANTIFY how many referrals (how much business) they got in the past calendar year?  Versus where referrals and new business originated?  Was enough generated to offset the firm’s cost of listing?  You may have to piece this together depending on how your firm does things, but in-house data will carry far more weight than outside studies.

One reason we dropped was the lack of business M-H generated.

[from a corp. legal department] I don’t know if this will have any sway or not, but as a huge consumer of legal services from many, many law firms throughout the US, we do not use MH when making a decision on what outside counsel firm to use.  And we dropped our own listing last year.

Have you tried getting Marketing in on the “Drop M-H Bandwagon”.  It worked here but the change came from Marketing since they were paying for it. I just verified that no one ever used it (housed in the library). Then we showed them how to access this same information on online.

A couple of years ago after we decided not to participate in Martindale, we had to make the decision again because the publisher gave us a free year.

I had an intern and a case clerk go through Martindale online to see which of the AmLaw 100 and 200 firms had listings in M-H and at what level. Don’t “the powers” always ask what your competitors are doing?  You can see the results in the attached (now dated) spreadsheet.

We opted out and put the money into other marketing projects (like a refurbished website).

I have that MH in a budget too.  I think transferring it to marketing or some other department will go a long way to having the cost reviewed.  My attitude towards MH is completely indifferent when I don’t have to pay for it out of library funds.

This is a comment from our marketing director re canceling MH:

“I am happy to discuss with someone. It is a complicated discussion…but the evaluation we completed clearly indicated that the ROI on the dollars spent were no longer justifiable.”

I remember discussing this via email with the local law librarian group, and many had canceled MH. One reason is that many folks, both attorneys and the public use Google to find attorneys. Plus MH’s cost were too high.

I’m not sure whether your request has drawn much response.  If not, you just ask librarians to tell you whether their firm has dropped M&H.  I suspect that the resulting list would be a Who’s Who of American Law Firms.