What’s in a name? The name of your law firm is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. It’s used in all marketing and branding materials, including your law firm’s website. So, it needs to convey the right message.
Many lawyers use their own names for the firm, but that can be limiting. It may not communicate what you want to say about your firm. Also, there are many “John Smiths” in law practice. Using “Smith Law” may prevent you from standing out.
Choosing an evocative law firm name will help set you apart from other attorneys in your area and convey the kind of legal services you provide. Here are some tips on how to choose a good name.
What Do You Want the Name of Your Law Firm to Convey?
The name of a law firm may convey many things. A long list of last names implies that there are several partners in the law firm. Some people may assume a long list of last names implies the law firm was established a long time ago.
Potential clients may infer any number of things from your law firm’s name.
However, at the very minimum, you want people to hear the name of your law firm and think:
You should choose a name that elicits positive emotions and responses from potential clients.
Avoid Misleading, Deceptive, or False Names
The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct now allow attorneys to use trade names for their law firms. Trade names enable attorneys to think beyond their last names. However, trade names cannot convey a misleading or false message about the lawyer or their services.
For example, you cannot use a law firm name that implies you are a charitable organization or government agency. You cannot use a name that implies you are associated with a town or city, such as “Greenville City Legal Clinic.” Law firm names should not imply a partnership or group of lawyers when the firm has just one lawyer.
Many state bars have relaxed the rules for law firm names. However, some state bars still do not permit the use of trade names for law firms.
Always check your state bar rules and the ABA Model Rules before selecting a name for your law firm. Also, make sure that no one is using that name in your jurisdiction. You may want to Google the name just to ensure there are no negative stories or issues associated with the name.
Also, check the acronym for your law firm name, especially when using the last names of the attorneys in the law firm. For example, the acronym for Jenkins, Ellis, Rivers, Kramer, & Smith (JERKS) may result in slight embarrassment for the firm.
Bottom line: do not run afoul of ethics rules when naming your legal practice.
How to Choose the Best Name for Your Law Firm
There is no right or wrong way to choose a name for your law firm. As long as you follow the bar rules, you can use any naming process that works best for you.
Some steps that you might want to take when deciding on your law firm name include:
- Brainstorm by writing down all of the names that you can think of for your law firm
- Review the names for unintended meanings (i.e., acronyms) and compliance with state bar and ABA Model Rules
- Ask for opinions from friends, family members, other lawyers, and clients
- Check the domain availability for the name
- Consider trademarking your firm’s name to prevent another lawyer from using it
Do not be discouraged if it takes you a few weeks to choose the name for your law firm. Your law firm’s name will be with you for your entire career. Therefore, you do not want to rush through the process.
What if I Cannot Decide on a Law Firm Name?
Making a final decision may feel impossible. If you cannot decide on a name or come up with any names that convey the right message, consider hiring a professional marketing and branding consultant.
A marketing and branding consultant can help you brainstorm law firm names and narrow your list to two or three possibilities. A professional can also research possible law firm names to see which names rank the highest with consumers.
Other Tips for Choosing a Law Firm Name
If you are struggling to name your law firm, keep these tips in mind when brainstorming law firm names:
- Keep It Short – Names that are too long are easy to forget.
- Make It Simple to Spell – Clients and prospective clients might have trouble locating your information if they cannot remember how to spell the name of your law firm.
- Make It Easy to Remember – Try to come up with a name that is catchy but not tacky.
- Avoid Using Symbols for Letters – When you use symbols to represent letters, your clients may forget how to spell the name of your law firm.
- Check the Domain Name – Ideally, your domain name should match your law firm name. However, if you must shorten or change the name, it needs to be as close as possible to avoid confusion.
- Be Cautious of “and Associates” – If you need to shorten the word “associates,” you want to make sure that the domain name for your website does not require you to shorten the word to the first three letters.
- Actual Names Can Create Trust – Having the name of a lawyer at the law firm in the name can create a sense of trustworthiness compared to a trade name.
- Consider Your Area of Practice – You may want to include the area of practice in the law firm name. People immediately know what area of law your firm practices.
Your law firm name is used across social media accounts, websites, and all branding. Consider how the name will appear in various uses. Also, choose a name that will incorporate well with your law firm’s blog.
Try to Keep Ego Out of Your Decision
It is a great feeling to put your name on the door of your law firm. Choosing your name as the law firm’s name may feel like the natural choice.
However, prospective clients may dislike firm names that are difficult to spell or pronounce. Another potential problem could be an extremely familiar name, such as Williams or Smith. In these cases, your name may not be the best choice for the firm name.
Egos can be an issue among partners who desire to use each of their names for the firm’s name. An obvious solution might be listing the names alphabetically, but that could result in an unpleasant-sounding acronym or an unattractive law firm name. Partners might use years of practice to decide the law firm name, but they should still consider all other factors before making a final decision.
Final Thoughts On Choosing a Name for Your Law Firm
Whether you choose a traditional name for your law firm or an unconventional name, taking the time to brainstorm and research law firm names will give you the best outcome. Rushing through the choice of a law firm name may leave you with regrets. It may also make it much more difficult for you to market and brand your law firm.
When you narrow your list of potential names down to two or three, you might want to consider inserting each name into the designs for your letterhead, business cards, website, and social media accounts. Design a logo with each choice to decide which logo fits best with your branding. Viewing the names as they appear in various situations can help you decide which law firm name works best for you.