Same Content, Different Apps: Martindale-Hubbell, Lawyers.com

Lexis has created two apps that do the exact same thing: the Martindale-Hubbell and Lawyers.com apps allow user access to the same, giant directory of attorneys. Lexis, though, clearly has different audiences in mind for the two apps, having tailored Martindale-Hubbell to attorneys and Lawyers.com for the public.

The Martindale-Hubbell app is intended to be used by attorneys. More legal language is employed in the template searches that drive the app: users can search for “area of practice” or “law school” for example. The copy from the app description in the iTunes store indicates attorneys are the prime audience for this app as well. The copy, accessible here, reads: “Need to refer a case to an attorney outside your jurisdiction?” and “Ever wished you could look-up opposing counsel’s background and expertise on the fly?”.

Lawyers.com, on the other hand, is directed towards members of the public who need an attorney. The app delivers the contact information of the lawyer closest to the user’s current location, gives contact information for the searched-for attorneys, and even displays directions on how to reach their office. And iTunes store copy, accessible here, states: “Need to find a lawyer fast?” “Looking for ratings and reviews on lawyers in your area?”, and even goes on to state the content underlying the app is coming from the Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory.

It’s a little reductive, but generally true, to say that apps typically are user interfaces thrown on top of databases. More often than not, apps are just a mode for users to access, interface with, and sometimes contribute content to some underlying, large database. Observing Lexis’s creation of two different interfaces intended for two different audiences to settle on top of the same content gives us an interesting insight into the actions and perspectives of one of the really big fish of the legal research world. Re-organizing the same information is something that continually occurs in the world of apps, though usually it’s different app producers creating different interfaces, not the same producer creating multiple apps that do the same thing. But, Lexis’s actions are clever–the public and attorneys are different enough audiences, with different enough research goals, who will emphasize different enough search criteria, that deploying different interfaces for them seems to be an effective solution.

Lastly, though downloading and using the apps is free, I’m sure you’ll have to pay for whatever attorney you find.

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