Whether you’re opening a new law firm or looking to refresh your current branding, it’s important to choose a name that your audience will identify with. This name will last with your firm for a lifetime and will have an impact on everyone at the firm. It will impact your firm’s marketing, reputation, and lead generation.
If you’re feeling the pressure, take a deep breath. The information in this blog will help you pick a marketable law firm name that will keep you compliant (yes, there are rules) and stand out from the sea of law firms.
Rules and Regulations
Like anything in the legal industry, the law firm name you choose has regulations. In general, as defined by ABA Rule 7.1, your law firm’s name shouldn’t mislead the public about its services. This includes names that could be confused with a government agency or partnership.
While there are strict regulations to consider, some states have become more relaxed on the rule. Depending on the state, firms can use “trade names.” This means they can use anything other than the names of those associated with the law firm.
The ABA amends regulations from time to time, so it’s important to watch for updates both at the national and state level.
As previously mentioned, law firms have the control to get creative with their names with the option of utilizing trade or non-traditional names. While certain states don’t allow trade names (check if yours does) Regulations have loosened over the years allowing law firms to get creative with their names. Here are a few things to keep in mind while brainstorming.
It may seem like it’s a tradition for law firms to use family or partners’ last names, but it’s more of a requirement. Some states haven’t adopted the “trade names” rules and this is the only option for those law firms. Whether you’re opting for this route or have no choice based on your state, be sure to order the names in a way that flows. Play with different variations to find the best fit both verbally and visually.
For those law firms in “trade name” states, you may want to consider incorporating your practice area(s) in your name. You’ll want to be careful when adding in your practice area to make sure you’re not misleading the public or limiting your firm’s services. If you plan to expand your firm’s offerings, the practice area you choose today may not reflect the services you want to offer later.
Think About Size
The size of your law firm can be a marketing point and draw in potential clients. However, it’s another component that could be misleading. If you’re a solo practitioner, adding “associates” can make the public think you have several attorneys working at firms — this can get you in trouble. Overall, adding “associates,” “firm,” or “group” is a common addition to law firm names.
Whether you pick last names or practice areas, your services need to be clear. More specifically, you’re providing legal services. Adding “group” or “firm” to your name doesn’t always translate as a law firm to the public. Law firm names can be easily interchangeable as a financial firm or real estate group depending on how it’s worded.
An example of a clear legal name could be: “Jones and Jones Legal Group” or “Jackson Litigation.” These names use legal industry terms and are easily identifiable to the public. If you want to get more specific, you could add to your practice area.
Legal Items to Consider
Check on Availability
It may not be top of mind, but you’ll want to choose a law firm name with an available website domain. For obvious reasons, having a URL that is representative of your law firm will help your SEO efforts and guide prospective clients to you. Additionally, it will save you the possibility of running into a pricey trademark infringement suit.
Verify for Trademarks
A quality trademark search should consist of federal, state, and common law (or unregistered). There are many online websites that claim to provide a full trademark search but can fall short of the full requirements. Look for professional software like Corsearch or CompuMark that provide full trademark verification and screening.
Consider a Consultant
If you don’t have marketing staff, you may want to consider outsourcing a professional. A marketing consultant (especially one who specializes in law firm marketing) can help you identify your brand voice, and key audiences, and ultimately guide you to choosing a marketable name. The consultant can also confirm that your name is available and handle trademarking if needed.
Once you have a law firm name you’re proud of, you’ll want to put it everywhere — client intake forms, invoices, your website, and more! This is just the first step in building your law firm’s reputation and standing out in the competitive legal industry.
This blog was published in March 2021. Recent update: July 2023.
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