Are you sick and tired of “traditional” law firm names?
You’re not alone.
Throwing off the stuffy trappings of the legal profession is becoming more and more common, as both new firms and old are branding (or re-branding) themselves with non-traditional, modern law firm names.
In this post, I’ll examine the difference between traditional and non-traditional names, and discuss some of the factors you need to consider before going with a modern name for your law firm.
Traditional law firm names – what are they?
We’re all familiar with the old joke law firm name:
“Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe”
While it’s a dumb joke, it’s also a great example of a “traditional” law firm name.
Until fairly recently, many (if not all) state bar associations required that law firms were named after their partners.
Non-human names were not allowed.
The legal profession is very much concerned with appearances. There’s a certain air of professionalism that most attorneys and firms try to maintain.
With good reason – often, clients are trusting us with things that really matter to them, whether it’s a small legal dispute or a global, billion-dollar deal.
Things are changing, though.
As technology creeps its way into the profession, and lawyers begin to integrate it (kicking and screaming, in many cases), the trappings of traditional lawyering are falling away.
Not in all cases, but for certain types of firms, a more modern and non-traditional approach is being taken.
This all starts with the name.
What’s the difference between traditional and non-traditional law firm names?
Basically, “non-traditional” would be anything that isn’t using some form of the partners’ names. Here’s some examples of “traditional” firm names:
- Reynolds, Reynolds, Kelly, and McDonald
- The Law Offices of Phoenix Wright
- The Parker Law Firm
- Even my own solo practice, “Zachary Strebeck, Attorney at Law”
You get the idea. Those are what we have come to expect from law firm names.
On the other hand, you’re starting to see names that don’t just describe the attorneys working at the firm.
They’re giving the prospective client a taste of what the firm itself is like and what it does.
Some names highlight the “virtual” nature of the law firm, others serve to shine a light on the main practice area of the firm.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
What are some “modern” or non-traditional law firm names?
The number of non-traditional law firm names is growing. Here are just a few.
- This great article over on Detroit Legal News highlights both One Law Group (no names of partners) and The Virtual Attorney (highlighting one of the key aspects of the firm).
- Attorney Matthew Hickey highlights his choice of Music Tech Law for his firm over on Rocket Lawyer. This tells clients exactly what kind of law he practices, so they know they’re in the right place.
- Law firm Lawcraft has a creative branding that makes it clear they’re a law practice, but sets itself apart from the traditional firm name.
As you can see, they run the gamut of names, while still retaining professionalism. It’s just…different…from the traditional naming conventions.
Personally, I love them, and wish I had gone this route when I started my firm.
So, should you go traditional or modern?
Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
I’d say that there are a few factors that should go into your decision:
- Who your clients will be
- What kind of law you’re practicing
- What kind of lawyer you are
Let’s face it:
The most important thing to keep in mind when naming your law firm is “who is my ideal client?”
Ultimately, you’re in this business to make money (I think), and in order to make money, you need to get clients.
Does your choice of name appeal to that ideal client? In order to figure that out, it’s important to do some research. You can:
- Check out other firms that service your ideal clients, and see what they’re doing wrong or right with their name
- Take some ideal clients to lunch or do an informational interview over the phone to discuss naming your firm, among other issues (get info on what kind of services they’d like to see, what their biggest problems are, how they go about looking for attorneys, etc.)
- Ask other attorneys for their advice, particularly if they’ve started their own successful firms or work with that type of client
You’ll find that most of the things I recommend here are going to be based on research, whether it’s doing interviews or using tools to look at the data.
Going with your gut just doesn’t cut it.
Some clients are going to like a more “stuffy” or traditional firm, and nothing signifies that more than a stuffy and traditional name.
Check out this clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Ed Asner is appalled by the casual nature of his estate planning firm’s dress code (warning: NSFW language):
That’s the kind of thing you may be up against, so plan accordingly.
If you’re working with startups, smaller client matters, divorce and family law, or game developers like myself, you can generally afford to be a bit more creative with your name.
What matters to them is that you can help them out and (usually) that they can afford to pay your bills.
Similar considerations are made for what kind of law you’re practicing and what kind of lawyer you are.
If you’re doing the type of lawyering that’s part of traditional industries or involves a lot of money, often clients will want the more traditional names.
This lets them know that they can trust you and that you seem to be on the level of law firms that you may be in disputes with.
Most of it is theatrics, but sometimes that’s very important.
Similarly, if you’re the type of lawyer that projects more of a traditional aura, having a traditional name is going to complement that. If you’re like me, a virtual attorney working with small and medium-sized game developers, things can be a bit looser.
My blog is casual, my client interactions are often casual (I don’t have an office, after all), and therefore my name could be casual.
In the end, it’s a judgment call. But I would do the leg work and figure it out before making a final decision.
Talk with people. Research competition.
You won’t regret it.
Got an example of a modern law firm name? Leave it in the comments below!
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