Friday, September 11, 2009

Find That Lawyer

Looking for contact information for lawyers? How about biographical information? You have lots of options!


For Washington lawyers, my first stop is usually the WSBA's directory, at Since every lawyer who practices in this state has to be a member of WSBA, this directory is current and comprehensive. It's so comprehensive, it even includes deceased lawyers -- not that you'd hire them, but sometimes it's good to confirm that the person you're looking for isn't around. It also includes those on inactive status (lower dues but no right to practice).

The directory is programmed to find names that are close to what you type. So if you type "Mary" you'll also get "Maryann," and if you type "Reynolds," you'll also get "Reynoldson" and "McReynolds."

Recently, the site has added the ability to search by practice area (based on what lawyers submit), language, or access to TDD. And you can also find members of WSBA committees.

Martindale is the free, online version of the venerable Martindale-Hubbell print directories (the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory began in 1931; we also have Hubbell's Legal Directory, 1873-1930, Martindale's United States Law Directory, 1875-76, and Martindale's American Law Directory, 1897-1930).

Martindale listings generally have a lot more information than just name, address, and phone number. They'll list schools attended, areas of practice, languages, publications, and more. And you can search by all (or most of) those variables too.

So what's not to like? Well, it's not comprehensive, so you might not find the lawyer you're looking for. It has never been as strong for lawyers in government and non-profit organizations as it was for lawyers in private practice. And now a number of lawyers and firms are choosing not to pay the fee to be listed, so it is not as comprehensive as it used to be.

Martindale is changing with the times. Just yesterday, it announced a change in its rating system. Ratings Are Transforming, Blog, Sept. 10, 2009. And Martindale is hosting a social media site for lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell Connected.

Martindale-Hubbell directories are also on LexisNexis, often with more search options than on the free site.


Since Martindale-Hubbell was on LexisNexis (and is now owned by LexisNexis), you won't be surprised that Westlaw came up with a competitor, West's Legal Directory (WLD on Westlaw). The free version of WLD is the Findlaw Lawyer Directory -- in fact, I usually use the URL (for West's Legal Directory) because I find it easier to remember than the (Did you know that Findlaw is owned by Thomson Reuters, Westlaw's parent company?)

Like Martindale, Findlaw allows you to search by lawyers' practice areas, locations, and other variables. You can also search by name, if you're looking for an individual. Once you get to a lawyer's listing, you can find very basic information:

or a detailed profile:


Avvo is a relatively new service (founded in June 2007 -- see this post) that combines features of traditional directories with social networking.

Avvo draws basic directory information from state bar sites. Then its researchers fill in some data based on news stories and awards given to lawyers. And then other people -- either clients or colleagues -- can rate and comment on the lawyers. Lawyers who choose to can add to their profiles with pictures, biographies, or personal statements. Depending on whose profile you're reading, you can find either a little:

or a lot:


My advice? If you just want basic contact information, go with the WSBA directory. If you want to learn as much as you can about someone, try all of these.

Another day I'll write about ways to use LinkedIn.

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