In this space last week, a look at some of the issues Thomson’s Westlaw faces in the legal digital age. This week, it’s time to put Lexis/Nexis into the friendly bucket.
Who hasn’t seen this in a law library or as a backdrop to an attorney interview?
In the future, you may have to visit a legal museum.
While still available as 26 volume set, the directory is now part of a Reed Elsevier business unit called “LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell,” and served up on the web at www.martindale.com. This is the business-to-business version of the directory (there isn’t even a link to buy the print version on this page!). The business-to-consumer version is at lawyers.com. The full constellation of Martindale-branded products is explained here.
OK, big deal, Martindale-Hubbell has migrated to the web. There’s a free window to its content. Old news. Well, the next challenge may come in part from something called “vertical search.” What’s that?
Om Malik explains that:
It is a specialized search engine that mines data for one narrow niche of the market place. Say jobs or travel. Or even high end real estate. Because the data sources are so fragmented, there seems to be an opportunity to massage the data and present it in a manner that is simple to use and easy to consume. Sort of meta search for niches.
The monster of search, Google, is showing signs of interest in vertical search–see this page. Google is busy carving up their search into different areas. They aren’t hitting any of the “four horsemen” of vertical search (retail, financial services, travel, and media and entertainment). Yet. But they could. Soon.
So what–why do I think Google is interested in the law and perhaps lawyer-locating?
The main reason: because it’s there, and it’s big, and it’s information rich, a perfect market in the cross-hairs of the Google mission.
The factual evidence: check out the sponsors of this conference earlier this month at Yale Law School on “Regulating Search: A Symposium on Search Engines, Law, and Public Policy.” Google did more than sponsor the event, it sent Alan Davidson, its Washington Policy Counsel and leader of the company’s new government affairs office in Washington DC. Microsoft, one of the other sponsors (you may be familiar with their work) sent Jon Zieger, an attorney who provides counsel for the MSN Search business. Surprise!
This interest of Google or MSN could eventually be integrated into lawyer reviews, referrals or locating, as I guesstimated in January.
So we don’t have this yet:
I do think that the question of whether this link (or an MSN one like it) goes live really falls into the “when, not if” category.
But what the heck do I know?