Naming your law firm is something you want to give serious consideration to, for several reasons—chief of which is that your firm’s name plays a huge part in creating that crucial first impression. As the firm manager or principal partner, you law firm’s name also plays an important role in branding your practice. And as is typical of any business, your brand is everything. As long as your name is well-established, and your reputation remains solid, you’ll have little to no trouble getting clients through organic searches, word-of-mouth, and referrals.
Hence, you need to choose your name carefully. The little things in the naming scheme—such as the order of names, using “offices of” versus “and associates,” or whether to include the LLC at the end or not—can matter a lot in the final product.
Traditional vs. Trade
There are generally two approaches you can take to naming your law firm. One is the traditional approach, where you simply use your last name—or, if you have a partner, names. Some examples would be Schulman & Morrison, Schulman & Associates, or Schulman & Morrison Law Associates.
This is a simple method that requires little creativity but is highly practical—especially if there are just one firm manager or two principal partners heading the firm.
However, in the case of four or more partners, this scheme can end up a little complicated. Also, the results of taking a traditional approach can sometimes come off as a little humorous (for instance, Ball & Weede, Wolfe & Mann). You also want to watch out for the acronym, as there really is no end to people’s creativity (i.e. Anderson, Smith & Shore, or Paulson, Ericson & Ericson Law Associates).
In such cases, it might be best to go with the second method, which is to use a trade name.
A trade name is best used if your law firm specializes in a particularly niched practice area or, again, if there are quite a few senior partners. So, for instance, you could use Center for Elder Law, if you want to cater primarily to seniors. You could also use Senior Solutions LLC, Attorneys at Law. Or if you’re mostly defense lawyers, you could use a name like Tampa DUI Defense Attorneys or Legal Defense Solutions Center, LLC.
As with most things, both approaches have their own pros and cons.
Using your last name as your law firm’s name is a tried-and-true method that works for most people. In fact, a lot of clients expect law firm names to be a surname or a combination of surnames. Practically speaking, it’s good branding. Since people are enlisting your services, they’re essentially buying you. Regardless of your attitude towards marketing, your brand must be easily linked back to you—and nothing links back to you like your own surname.
- If your names are quite unique, traditional naming schemes are easier to remember than generalized trade names.
- Using your last name is better branding for you and your firm’s partners.
- It comes off as more personal for potential clients.
- The chances of the firm’s name being already in use is quite low (again, especially if you or your partners’ names are quite unique) so you won’t have trouble reserving/claiming it
- Some people consider it to be an ego-driven choice rather than a practical one.
- It can come off as humorous if the name combinations or acronyms aren’t thought through well enough.
- You and your partners might fight for first mention (i.e. Nelson & Murdock or Murdock & Nelson). In the cases of huge groups, there might be a fight for who actually gets their name up there and who gets group under “Associates.”
- Clients can’t tell what your specialization is right away.
Trade names essentially identify the specific practice that your law firm is focused on. So, like the example given earlier, a firm focused solely on elder law could call themselves Senior Solutions. If the firm specialized in immigration, they could choose a name like Northern Immigration Center, Attorneys at Law.
Alternatively, a trade name can also use your firm’s geographic location, following ethics rules. For instance, South Coast Senior Solutions or Legal Immigration Center of Northern Massachusetts. In some cases, the trade name doesn’t necessarily need to identify your area of focus either. Southern California Legal Center is an acceptable trade name, but it doesn’t specify the firm’s specialization.
- If your name is in line with what they need, potential clients instantly know that you can help them, and thus are more likely to choose you over law firms with traditional names or generalized trade names.
- There’s a better chance of your firm becoming the go-to firm for whatever the trade name suggests it specialized in
- Comes off as more creative and more versatile than traditional approaches.
- Doesn’t seem as egotistical compared to more traditional approaches.
- In the cases of multiple partners specializing in multiple areas, a trade name would be difficult to establish.
- Trade names that use geographic locations may come off as too generalized and impersonal.
- Trade names can “pigeonhole” your firm, to the point that change, or expansion will prove difficult.
As you can see, the “best” choice for your law firm’s name hugely depends on several factors that are unique to your situation. What works for you won’t work for the rival firm two blocks down. Ultimately, it falls on you, as the firm manager, to carefully consider the options and decide on a name that you—and all your partners—are happy with. In the world of business, regret is often a costly thing.