Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory – 1868 to 1963
The Alameda County Law Library through its subscription to HeinOnline now has access to an archived PDF collection of early editions of a title that was once on a bookshelf somewhere at every US law firm – Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.
The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory had long been the detailed and reliable source of information on lawyers, law firms, in-house law departments, banks, and real estate offices in every United States city. In addition to providing addresses and contact information for law firms, the Directory contained background information on individual practitioners and lawyer ratings. It also included a section on foreign lawyers and law firms. This was before the era of Big Law international firms.
HeinOnline now provides the historical archive of this individual publication from its inception in 1868 to 1963. In addition to the better known title, the database contains PDF databases of earlier series of directories — before Martindale partnered up with Hubbell – Martindale’s American Law Directory (62 v. Chicago; New York: J.B. Martindale) 1868-1930 and Hubbell’s Legal Directory (58 v. Hubbell, J. H., Editor and Compiler. New York: Hubbell Pub. Co) 1870-1930.
Down a book-lined memory lane – a bit of real world legal research history
Before lawyers bantered about with terms such as “social media” or “website,” Martindale was the source for attorneys to check out the other side’s counsel or for in-house counsel to research a prospective hire. Hours and hours were spent by law firm administrators compiling and proof-reading the entries. Every year, there would be discussion – when the publisher’s invoice arrived for payment – do we really need to be listed in Martindale? Every year it was decided that the listing of the firm’s practice profiles was essential for business development, worth the cost, that is, until the Internet made it a non-essential. Even the publisher has moved its current version to the web. But as an information site Martindale.com no longer carries the weight it once did as the go-to information source on attorney background. (Martindale-Hubbell is currently owned by consumer website company, Internet Brands, the company that owns NOLO so this may change in the future. )
Working as a legal reference librarian in Martindale‘s golden era, my favorite sections of the series was the unique editorial digests that could be found in the final volume. The guides, Digests of the Laws of the States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands or Digests of the Laws of Foreign Countries would be used as an index to state codes for those states you did not work with everyday. North Dakota’s age of consent for marriage? Argentina’s corporation law? A researcher easily could find a summary explanation of current law with a citation to satisfied the preliminary information needs of a firm attorney without spending billable time or as a starting point for in-depth research. Other reference sources in the title included an Appendix of Uniform and Model Acts and an Index for legal terms.
The exact digests and sources of information do change over the years.
Nuggets of historical research gold
It is these digests that provide a wonderful resource for anyone doing historical legislative or legal research. Example – what were the causes for which a divorce could be granted in California in 1955? The summary states five causes with the Civil Code sections listed below. (No Family Code yet!) The pages on the PDFs where you can find the digests and appendices are noted on the HeinOnline page. You need to work your way through the PDF to find the section required but the updated formatting on the page makes its easy to do so.
The Index can guide the historical researcher through the legal language of the period including terms that may now be out-dated and no longer be used .
The Directory itself provides a record of the history of the US legal profession. Names of law firms can be traced through the decades. Names of individuals, schooling and date of birth appear in the listings.
The Court Calendar sections provides snapshots of the US court systems – federal and state.
Access to HeinOnline at ACLL
HeinOnline can be accessed at either of our locations – Oakland or Hayward – on the public research computers or by accessing ACLL’s Legal Databases web page with the library’s wi-fi network on your laptop.