* Website Review: Lawyers.Com

Martindale-Hubbell, the new owner of the lawyers.com domain name is going to win the battle for consumer mind-share.

By Erik J. Heels

First published 8/4/1998; LegalResearcher.com; publisher: New York Law Publishing Company

Imagine for a moment that you are a consumer looking for lawyers on the Internet and that you didn’t know anything about how to find lawyers and have never heard of Martindale-Hubbell or West Legal Directory. Imagine further that you are new to the Web and don’t really understand how it works. So you type “lawyers” in the “location” window of your Netscape Navigator browser. Where do you end up? At lawyers.com, of course! This is why the domain name lawyers.com is so valuable. And this is why Martindale-Hubbell, the new owner of the lawyers.com domain name is going to win the battle for consumer mind-share with its new www.lawyers.com (http://www.lawyers.com/) Web site.

The domain name lawyers.com was originally registered in 1994 by a small San Diego law firm. It remained idle for about four years until Martindale-Hubbell purchased the rights to it.

At any rate, the lawyers.com Web site is sure to be a hit. Today, there are zero links to it in AltaVista’s database, but I expect that to change, with lawyers.com eventually passing both martindale.com (Martindale-Hubbell) and wld.com (West Legal Directory).

The site itself is slick. Like most supersites, it has a simple search engine right on the home page. Considerable attention has been paid to the user experience. Especially the uninitiated user. For example, under “About the Law,” you’ll find short summaries of the law in various areas here. And since this is a consumer site, you won’t find any listing for “intellectual property law,” but you will find listings for “Patent, Trademark, and Copyright.” Clicking on that link takes you to a short summary of the law in that area, and multiple search dialog boxes are included on each page or so to help you find a lawyer in that area. So you’ll never scroll more than a couple screens on any page before being reminded that you can search for a lawyer. And all you have to do is enter your city and the area of law you’re interested in. The results are pulled from the familiar Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.

The site is new and is still evolving. It has clearly been designed to accommodate priority listing for firms that are willing to pay for it (i.e. getting listed in bold text in the search results page). I also expect to see banner ads at some point.

The lawyers.com site has been a long time in coming. Clearly a win-win for consumers and Martindale alike, the release of this site marks a giant step forward in the lawyer directory Web site market. Martindale-Hubbell is clearly in the lead now. Look for West to be playing catch-up soon.

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