How to Name a Law Firm

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How to Name a Law Firm

Step-by-step guide to coming up with a unique, informative, and credible law firm name.

1. 

Start a list.

1.1 

Write down any ideas you already have.

Write down any ideas you already have.

You may already have some ideas for a law firm name. If so, go ahead and write them down.

1.2 

Highlight or star your favorites as you go.

Highlight or star your favorites as you go.

This will make it easy to narrow down the list later, while letting you jot down all ideas that may spark something at another point.

The words you add to the list don’t have to be fully-formed law firm names. They can be a words or concept related to the law firm that help you get to the final name.

2. 

Perform essential research before you name your law firm.

2.1 

Review the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Review the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

The American Bar Association (ABA) Rules of Professional Conduct are used, at least in part, to encourage ethical legal practices throughout the U.S. Of particular interest is the fifth comment on Rule 7.1, which provides naming guidelines.

2.2 

Research your state bar's guidelines.

Research your state bar's guidelines.

States may vary in the manner and extent to which they adopt the rules outlined by the ABA. Be sure to check your state bar's ethics rules to identify which restrictions apply to the naming of your law firm.

You'll want to identify, for example, whether you're able to use a trade name, or whether you're restricted to partners' names. Most states allow both, while places like New York have banned trade names.

2.3 

Review your business plan.

Review your business plan.

If you’ve got a business plan for your law firm, the research there should give you ideas for words, phrases, and concepts that fit your brand.

2.4 

Talk to likely customers.

Talk to likely customers.

This is something you’ll want to do, no matter what, to learn more about the people you’ll be catering to. While you’re meeting with them, be sure to write down words, phrases, and concepts that they associate with your law firm.

3. 
3.1 

Think about your niche.

Think about your niche.

By now, you should know which areas of law you'll be specializing in. Jot these down, along with related keywords and phrases.

Use a legal dictionary during the process — that way, you could search for English and Latin terms. Lectric Law Library's Lexicon is a great option.

3.2 

Reflect on your values.

Reflect on your values.

Chances are that your professional activities will be guided by one or more values. Write these down, along with concepts that come to mind when you think about them.

3.3 

Consider your partners' names.

Consider your partners' names.

Jot down the names of your partners if you have any.

Don't worry about finalizing the order of these just yet.

4. 

Create more name ideas from your list.

4.1 

Combine words from the list.

Combine words from the list.

Try combining various words from your list to see if they form any interesting names.

When looking at partners' names, specifically, you could list the most memorable ones first. Ideally, these should be easy to pronounce and spell. Regardless, try to include no more than four or so names, and be sure that everyone approves each of the firm name ideas.

Check abbreviations to ensure that all ideas portray a favorable image of the firm. "Beck, Aisley, & Douglas" for example, might be a bad idea.

4.2 

Use a name generator.

Use a name generator.

NameSnack can help combine your ideas and make associations that you may not have thought of.

NameSnack's AI will prompt you to add different words. You can try adding them all, or go with smaller groups.

Write down any law firm names you like.

NameSnack will also tell you if the domains are available. Check the ones that have domains off on your list.

5. 

Review and reflect.

5.1 

Read through your list again.

Read through your list again.

See if there are any others that stand out, and mark them.

5.2 

Set the list aside for a day or two.

Set the list aside for a day or two.

Come back with fresh eyes and see which names stand out. Also, see which names you still remember. This may give you a clue as to which ones are most memorable.

6. 

Get feedback on your top law firm names.

6.1 

Check what potential customers think of the names.

Check what potential customers think of the names.

See how your target audience reacts to different names.

You could create a poll or survey on Facebook or Twitter. Pay special attention to feedback offered by individuals who have sought legal advice before.

6.2 

Test the names on friends and colleagues.

Test the names on friends and colleagues.

Read your names to friends and colleagues, and get their take on your law firm's potential names. Come back a day or two later and see which ones they still remember.

Naturally, you should pay close attention to your colleagues' input — particularly if they are partners. You wouldn't want to start the journey of opening a law firm on the wrong foot!

7. 

Check availability.

7.1 

See if the web domain name is available.

See if the web domain name is available.

Use a site like Namecheap to see which of your top business name ideas have related URLs that are available to purchase.

7.2 

See if the name is already in use in your state.

See if the name is already in use in your state.

If the business name is already in use for a similar business in your state, it's likely won't be able to use it.

7.3 

Check the names on Google.

Check the names on Google.

Google your favorite law firm names to see if there are any other well-known practices with the same name, or if there are some associations you hadn’t thought of.

8. 

Get the name.

8.1 

Buy the domain name.

Buy the domain name.

You can do this through sites like Namecheap.

8.2 

Register the business name with the state.

Register the business name with the state.

You'll need to register the name in your state once you've chosen it. In most states this is fast and easy, and can be done online.

8.3 

Consider trademarking the name.

Consider trademarking the name.

This can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and offers additional protection from other businesses using your law firm's name.

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FAQs:

Do law firms change names?

Some do. Law firms might change their names when partners join or leave, or upon merging with other firms. However, most try to avoid — or, at the very least, minimize — name changes, since these may cause confusion and reduce brand recognition.

How do I create a name for my law firm?

  • Write down your existing ideas.
  • Familiarize yourself with pertinent rules.
  • Review your business plan, think about industry-specific terms, and talk to potential clients.
  • Create more name suggestions based on your research.
  • Review and reflect on the names.
  • Pick the top ideas.
  • See whether your preferred name is available. If so, secure the name.

Are there any rules that govern the naming of law firms?

Yes. Perhaps most saliently, names should not be misleading. For example, a sole practitioner cannot include "Associates" or "Group" in their name. Moreover, privately-owned firms should steer clear of names such as "North Dakota Law Association," which may cause the public to think that the firm is state-run. However, in instances where partners retire, their names can often be retained.

Why do law firms usually include partners' names?

Perhaps, in part, because it's a long-standing tradition. It also allows firms to benefit in cases where the named partners are renowned experts.

How can I check if my law firm's name is taken?

  • Search Google. Consider using quotation marks, hyphens, etc. to narrow your results.
  • Check with your Secretary of State's office.
  • Have a look at the United States Patent and Trademark Office's online trademark database.
  • If in doubt, consult an attorney who can perform these and other checks for you.

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