By Anna Johansson • March 09, 2018•Careers
Look at the names of law firms. What do you notice? Generally a short list of names, they’re almost all men’s surnames – and a man’s name is always first. So for young women breaking away from Big Law and striking out on their own, branding your law firm is an exciting opportunity. It’s a chance to stand out and to put your name first.
In general, the name of a law firm is generally those of the current or original partners involved, or just your name if you’re practicing solo. And while this seems straightforward on the surface, there are still a few factors you should consider.
First, if you have a very common surname, you may want to consider using a more distinctive name as the first part of your firm’s brand. There are hundreds of Smiths practicing law and you don’t want to battle for recognition – and a web address – with all of them.
Second, all other things being equal, put your own name first in the title of your practice. If there are several names, people typically only remember the first few and very few women have the privilege of being in that naming position. Give yourself the honor of being the name your firm is recognized by. Don’t demote yourself out of modesty.
Most lawyers don’t think much about how their practice name and their logo relate because the law isn’t thought of as an especially visual field. And while that may be true, but a great logo can make your firm memorable even if your name doesn’t stick. The key is to pick something just left of the mainstream, eschewing gavels and scales for something more exciting.
One way to choose your practice’s logo is by brainstorming about your corporate identity. Corporate identity is essentially the message or idea you want clients to have when they hear your name or think about your law firm. For example, Nike’s checkmark is a sign of positivity and meshes well with their motto, Just Do It, while classic Laguiole knives are marked with a shepherd’s cross, indicative of the French countryside where they’ve been made for generations.
Of course, there aren’t very many images inherently linked to law besides the clichés, but if you think about your area of specialization, you might come up with some smart images. For example, there are all kinds of figures that might apply in family law, such as paper cutouts, family photos, or hands, with a calm color scheme that suggests peace and resolution. Accident or criminal law practices, on the other hand, fare better with a more aggressive color palate, suggesting you’ll pursue any avenue necessary help your clients.
Even if you opt to just use text in your logo, rather than any images, your color palette and font combine to give a sense of your personality. Most law firms opt for simple, straightforward fonts, but occasionally you’ll encounter more ornate, Gothic-style fonts. Those practices tend to have a long history in their communities and want to signal their experience and legacy to new clients.
Back Up Your Brand
Your name and logo are important, but no one will hire you unless you can back up your brand and the easiest way to do that online is by writing powerful site content. Keep it casual and friendly – your clients don’t have law degrees and don’t speak the language of the courtroom – but also professional.
Don’t forget to include testimonials on your site; others’ past experiences are the best indicator of your practice’s personality. Most of the time you’ll attract new clients via word of mouth or name recognition. Testimonials are just an extension of that.
Too many women lawyers take a back seat when it comes to self-promotion; we’ve grown used to being junior players or part of the Big Law apparatus with its PR team. But when you branch out on your own, you’re the only one who is going to fight for your success. Get your name out there. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first.