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Trust: It's in Our DNA at FindLaw.com

I am not sure what got me thinking about this post in the From the Managing Editor series. Maybe it was some entertaining videos from our national sales conference. Maybe it was the annual goal setting last month. Maybe it was the post I wrote a few weeks ago about FindLaw's big 20th birthday. In any case, I started thinking about some values we hold to be crucial to the way we do business here at Thomson Reuters; most of all, the value of trust.

The Mothership

For anyone who can't tell by the outstanding and constant branding all over FindLaw.com, we are a proud part of the Thomson Reuters family. At TR, how we do business rests on four key values: Trust, Partnership, Innovation, and Performance. And the first, if not the greatest, of these is trust. Before I dig into to this, here is a definition of what we mean at TR when we say trust: "We act with integrity and independence by holding ourselves and each other to be ethical and reliable in all we do."

Great, you're thinking. Swell. Does this matter a lick to me if I just want to look up Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 51, or find an attorney because I fell in the grocery store and broke my ankle? Actually, it really does matter -- and it matters most to my team, the folks who create the content you are reading (hopefully right now).

Trust, It's Baked Right In

The idea that made me want to write about the trust value at FindLaw is how we think about it on my team. As you might know, I work with a group of attorneys who write the content for FL.com, both in the Blogs and the Learn About the Law sections of the site. Over the last few years, I have worked to develop a consistent training program for all the writers. And the idea of trust is actually baked right in to that training.

We look at it this way: If you can't trust that our writing is as clean, accurate, and intelligent as we can make it, then why should you trust any of the ideas we have for solutions to your legal problems? For example, each writer is trained to use multiple news sources as the basis for a news-based blog in case one source gets a fact wrong, we have something factual to fall back on.

We also train writers to use only the most reliable online resources they can find for research for both blogs and LATL. Oh, the discussions we have had about citing Wikipedia for anything more crucial than background on TV shows of cultural import. Not that I don't love Wiki -- I do. Swear. Don't write in about it. We work on our grammar, spelling, and language too. If we are sloppy, why should you trust us? Lastly, we are sticklers for attribution. If we didn't think something up, we let you know who did with our links.

We also strive to keep our tone and viewpoint as balanced as we can. Do we sometime betray a leaning one way or another? Sometimes. In blogs especially, we have more of an editorial voice than our storied colleagues over at Reuters, who adhere to a standard that is more formal than our own. But if we lean too far, boy do we hear about it from you! Sometimes we agree and change our post or article. If not, we let you know why in a reasonable and timely manner. That also has a lot to do with building trust.

This Is the Last Part, Trust Me

In my latest post, I talked about having a sense of mission both as a TR company and as our own homegrown value here at FindLaw. Part of that mission is giving you answers to your legal problems you can trust. If you need it, I hope we lead you to an attorney you can trust to help you through your issue; be it a delightful one (my start-up!), or a tough one (child custody). In any case, we are always working to write posts and articles you can trust. If we mess up, and it does happen believe me, let us know. You can trust us to do even better in the future.