FindLaw gobbles Glasser: What does it mean?

Just where is FindLaw headed? The question has been asked over and over again ever since West purchased it in January 2001. The press release announcing FindLaw’s purchase of Glasser LegalWorks is intriguing. It states: “The acquisition of Glasser LegalWorks accelerates FindLaw’s strategy of becoming the premier provider of expertise marketing solutions to large law firms, and establishes FindLaw as the legal industry’s foremost provider of client development solutions.” Huh? When did FindLaw decide it wanted to be the premier provider of marketing “solutions” to large law firms? Sure, FindLaw builds Web sites for law firms — in the pre-West days, it did so for free. But its foundation is legal information, not legal marketing. And its core audience, I’d wager, is lawyers in smaller law firms, not large law firms. In fact, although FindLaw is said to be the highest-trafficked legal Web site, I seem to recall the FindLaw folks once telling me that the majority of that traffic comes from non-lawyers.

I find even more confusing this statement from Debbie Monroe, FindLaw president and CEO, which is included in the press release: “The acquisition of Glasser LegalWorks positions FindLaw to lead the way in providing opportunities to learn and share expertise about pressing issues related to both the practice of law and the business of law. The addition of over 100 events and more than 50 publications creates the legal profession’s largest collection of trusted resources. Together with our proven client development services and technologies, FindLaw offers lawyers and law firms an innovative and completely integrated means to demonstrate their expertise and connect with potential clients.”

Is she saying that keeping up with current developments in the law and then telling potential clients that you keep up with current developments in the law is a marketing strategy?

No question, FindLaw’s purchase of Glasser could reshape the legal-media landscape, online as well as in print. But to position this as strengthening FindLaw’s marketing services seems to be missing the forest for the trees.