I hope, then, that it's not too hard to understand why it bothers me that I'm coming around to his way of thinking on at least one subject: I'm really, really starting to hate big corporations and the people that run them.
Today's big old Eff-You and giant foam "We're #1" hand with the middle finger extended goes to: MARTINDALE-HUBBELL.
Martindale-Hubbell is a division of LexisNexis, which itself is a division of Reed Elsevier Inc., a giant publishing conglomorate. You've probably never heard of them unless you happened to need a law-related publication.
Martindale-Hubbell ("MH") essentially produces one product: A listing of attorneys, sorted by firm, by state, etcetera. The print version comes in a distinctive multi-volume set - a portion of which is pictured at right. As you might expect, this product costs an arm and a leg to purchase and there are recurring subscription fees. It also costs money to have a detailed listing - for a large sum you can inform the world, or at least anyone who happens to look through Martindale-Hubbell, about your areas of practice, where you were born, whether you like kittens and as much other crap as you can fit in about six lines of text. I have no idea if it costs extra to get it onto the internet version.
In case you haven't already guessed, I am an attorney and our firm has made (with my full support) the decision to neither subscribe to MH nor to pay to have a detailed listing in their book. Frankly, we have better things to do with thousands of dollars.
Martindale-Hubbell also provides a peer review 'service'. Every once in a while, they send out mailers to attorneys asking them to review their peers on issues relating to ethics and professional abilities. If they decide to rate you - and I have no idea what the decision matrix is - you can attain one of three ratings. Being rated is apparently supposed to mean that you have unquestionable ethics and at least above-average ability.
Anyway, for some reason this year I received a rating. I don't know why. I didn't ask for it. I didn't even receive a survey in the first eight years I practiced asking me to review anyone else. I'm not sure that MH knew I existed. Even though it's perfectly fine, the rating itself is of absolutely no benefit to me.
That's enough background. Let's get to the hate.
Today's mail contained quite possibly the most outrageous thing I've seen this year - an invoice. You see, now that Martindale-Hubbell has rated me - regardless of the fact that I didn't ask for the rating and receive absolutely no benefit from it - they seem to feel that I must pay them $50.00 for the privilege. As they state in their letter:
As our database of rated lawyers continues to grow, so do the resources required to maintain these ratings. As you may know, we employ a team of individuals that continually monitor a lawyer's rating to ensure that it is current and accurately reflects the standing of the lawyer. This process includes administrative resources, the ongoing mailings of rating forms, our database administration costs and our system investments including our new eConfidentials tool.Unfuckingbelievable. It's not enough that they charge a fortune for their books and for detailed listings within their books. I don't know what MH's profits were, but the parent company made $600,000,000 in the first half of 2007. They're so strapped for cash that they're going to start billing everyone they can find fifty bucks? I should try that. You should pay me $50.00 because you're reading this blog or because I'll link to your site. I take cash, checks and PayPal.
In order to continue to provide this same level of service to the Bar, we have found that it is necessary to institute a nominal administration fee to cover some of these costs. The $50 administration fee will be billed annually to all rated lawyers. If you are currently a LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell subscriber, your administration fee is already covered in your subscription.
There. Rage vented. Needless to say I will not be paying this fee. I think I even have a couple old outdated volumes of MH that I inherited from a firm that closed. A bonfire next weekend sounds about right - I guess I should go buy some marshmallows.
I'd better buy a few extras just in case Michael Moore shows up.
On a semi-related note, I zipped through James D. Scurlock's Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders. In standard muckraking fashion he skewers the banking, credit card and mortgage industries for the usual misdeeds - lying, cheating and stealing. It was a decent read, mostly because it was thought-provoking: It may not be just the housing market that's a huge bubble waiting to burst - it may be our whole economy.
Certainly a wakeup call to start trying to get my own financial house in order. Just in case.
Phew. That's enough of that. I think that my next trip to the library is going to involve picking out some completely different kinds of books.
Since this is ostensibly a poker blog, here is some poker content for you:
Nah, I don't mean that. I just didn't get in any hands over the weekend. It was too hot and there were other things going on, mainly bad golf at my home course and good golf at the PGA.
I did experience the golf equivalent of a massive suckout. We have a group who always play for a few bucks on Saturdays. This week, I played horrendously - worst round of the year. I hit exactly two good shots, which both happened on par 3s, resulting in prizes for being closest to the pin and a sizable (for the stakes involved) profit on the day.
Sucking can be +EV.
Go apply that concept to your poker game.