Megan Zavieh is an attorney with a broad range of litigation experience now focusing on attorney defense in the...
Andrew J. Garcia is a life-long member of the SouthCoast community and co-founder of Phillips Garcia Law. He has...
Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business...
What’s in a name? A lot, actually, especially for a law firm. In this episode of Legal Toolkit, host Jared Correia talks to Andrew Garcia and Megan Zavieh about law firm names and why they don’t have to be boring. Together, they also discuss why lawyers don’t feel free to be creative with their firm names, the ethics to keep in mind when branding your company, and how to spice up a traditional name for attorneys who decide to take that route.
Megan Zavieh is an attorney with a broad range of litigation experience now focusing on attorney defense in the California State Bar disciplinary system.
Andrew J. Garcia is a life-long member of the SouthCoast community and co-founder of Phillips Garcia Law.
The Legal Toolkit
How to Name a Law Firm
Jared Correia: You know there’s a lot of stuff in the First Amendment but my favorite part is when they talk about the poodles. You probably know more about the First Amendment than I do but you could always learn more. And there’s a brand new show on Legal Talk Network about the First Amendment called “Make No Law”. Here’s a quick trailer for the show.
Ken White: News and pop culture are full of controversies about free speech in the First Amendment. We hear terms like Hate Speech and Heckler’s veto in a barrage of coverage about campuses, protests, and even wedding cakes. But what does it all mean, and how do we get here? That’s exactly what my new show, Make No Law: The First Amendment Podcast from Popehat.com will explore.
I’m Ken white and I invite you to tune in every month for the history, stories and personalities behind the right to free speech and the most important Supreme Court cases establishing it.
Jared Correia: You can find Make No Law on HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com, Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you’re listening to this podcast.
Intro: Welcome to Legal Toolkit, bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm, with your host Jared Correia. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Welcome to a new episode of The Legal Toolkit here on the Legal Talk Network. If you are looking for a 13-inch plaster rendering of Scrappy-Doo’s head, may I suggest eBay. If you’re a returning listener, welcome back. If you’re a first-time listener, hopefully you’ll become a longtime listener and if you’re Tommy Lee Jones, you’re probably saying something in a gruff voice somewhere right now.
As always, I’m your host Jared Correia, and in addition to casting this pod, I’m the Founder and CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based business management consulting and technology services for law firms. Check us out at HYPERLINK “http://www.redcavelegal.com” redcavelegal.com to learn more.
You can also listen to my other podcast, The Lobby List, a family travel show I host with my wife Jessica on iTunes. Subscribe there, rate us and comment, and it’s The Lobby List.
But here on the Legal Toolkit, we provide you each month with a new tool to add to your own legal toolkit so that your practices will become more and more like best practices.
And in this episode, we’re going to talk a little bit about law firm names, which is a subject I have wanted to address for a while including about how terrible they are.
But before I introduce today’s guests, that’s right, yes plural, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors.
Answer1 is a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800-Answer-1 or online at HYPERLINK “http://www.answer1.com” www.answer1.com.
Scorpion crushes the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.scorpionlegal.com/podcast” scorpionlegal.com/podcast.
We would like to thank our sponsor Thomson Reuters Firm Central, a cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks so that you can accomplish more with less.
Our first guest is Andrew Garcia, not the one who was in Godfather III, the other one who is a partner at Philips Garcia Law in Massachusetts. Andy specializes in estate planning including Medicaid planning. He’s a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and currently teaches in its nationally recognized and awarded Accelerator-to-Practice Program.
He has appeared on the Today Show and Fox & Friend’s, and he is also a lifelong resident of the South Coast of Massachusetts where I was born. In addition to that as if that wasn’t enough, he’s an amateur woodworker much like Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. So Andy welcome to this show.
Andrew Garcia: Jared buddy. Thanks for having me. It’s been a long time I’ve been waiting to have this honor. So thanks man.
Jared Correia: I know there’s a little bit of waiting list but I got you on eventually. Our next guest is Megan Zavieh of Zavieh Law in California. Megan is a State Bar defense attorney. She has been in solo practice for the last decade. Megan is also a regular contributor to popular legal publications like Laywerist. She has lived all over the United States and is even ventured to Sydney, Australia, for at least a little while. She makes legal ethics fun or at least not terribly, terribly depressing.
To that end, Megan has just released a brand specking new podcast of her own, it’s called Lawyers Gone Ethical. So make sure you listen to that one too. Welcome to this show Megan.
Megan Zavieh: Thanks Jared. I’m glad to be here.
Jared Correia: All right, let’s dive into the topic everybody. I’m going to start with Andy. Andy, you would agree that you have some strange hobbies, right?
Andrew Garcia: Yeah, we won’t go into depth on those but definitely. I’ll agree with you there, yeah.
Jared Correia: Outside of the woodworking I’m talking about. Now one of the things you do this particularly interesting in terms of this show is you like to collect truly horrible law firm names. Can you share some of the really random, crazy, terrible, maybe not so terrible law firm names you’ve discovered over the years?
Andrew Garcia: I can, and before we go further in responding to your question though Jared, I want to put it in a little bit of context first, okay.
So in the process of teaching at Suffolk Law and I teach a law practice management course there. What the students do is they work in class law firms and one of the first things they need to do is come up with a name for their law firm. And so we talked about the importance of naming a firm because it provides both the first impression to prospective clients, it’s important just in terms of how it looks and it’s actually — students get very invested with the naming.
Now we generally approach naming a firm in two categories. One category is sort of a traditional approach where you’ll just use — you’ll put your last names up on a shingle. The other approach these days and I see it happening more and more is that many law firms are leaning toward trade names.
And so later in the podcast, we can get into more details about the differences between the traditional approach versus the trade name approach and falling somewhere in between those, but here I come, I’m going to circle back now to answer your question, in the process of teaching about the traditional approach is we instruct students to always bear in mind, and this applies to lawyers too when you’re going to name your law firm. You need to keep in mind when you adopt a traditional approach that sometimes the results can be a little bit humorous when you see it.
So yeah rather than me insulting a bunch of my colleagues out there across the nation —
Jared Correia: I’ll do that for you.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah you can do that. I’m going to say that there have been some resulting names in the traditional sphere that can cause a chuckle or two, how’s that. One that comes to mind is a great law firm out west called Payne & Fears.
Jared Correia: Excellent.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah, another one, Ball & Weed. I’ve run into boring and boring.
Jared Correia: That’s just the worst one, like how do you not realize that.
Andrew Garcia: I like this firm as well. I think it’s a husband and wife firm, Bickers & Bickers. There’s also Low, Ball & Lynch. I especially like Alicia Slaughter. They are on the West Coast, and again, to any of you who may be listening, these are not horrible names whatsoever. It’s just that they do provide us with some nice examples of what can happen when you adopt that traditional approach.
Jared Correia: Just know that Andy doesn’t hate you, you just have a weird law firm name. Those are pretty good. Thank you for sharing.
Megan, I know you’ve come across some weird law firm names as well, would you like to add anything to Andy’s list?
Megan Zavieh: Well, actually the ones that I really did run into in real life that he mentioned was Low, Ball & Lynch, and I remember and this is exactly why we talk about this, I remember the impression that left on me. They were opposing counsel and we first got a missive from them, like what seriously, Low, Ball & Lynch, you just immediately have to start making jokes, you can’t help it and we thought well what are settlement discussions going to be like with these guys.
Jared Correia: Did you think they were real at firm, or did you think it was like a spam email or something?
Megan Zavieh: Oh, I knew, we knew it was real. It was actually the way it was delivered, we knew that they were for real, but we said it out loud and wait a second and that’s just not usually the impression that you hope your name will leave. I’m sure that somewhere in that firm, someone thought about this when they put the name together, at least we hope so, but it certainly didn’t leave the right impression at first. They did turn out to be quite sophisticated litigators I have to say with all due respect to them, but you have the name.
Jared Correia: I feel like you kind of have to be right, isn’t this like a boy named situation?
Megan Zavieh: It is a bit. You’d better be good to have the name like that.
Jared Correia: That’s right. So this all brings to mind the question I have Andy and Megan like why are lawyers so thoroughly uncreative in naming their businesses. And I mean imagine if Coca-Cola was called like Feingold Smith Rogers and Feingold Tonic, no one would buy that, like doesn’t somebody sit down and say, hey let’s say this name out loud once and see how it sounds, like what’s happening creatively, I’ll start with you Megan.
Megan Zavieh: Well I do hope they’re doing that just like we should when we name children, but I think sometimes they don’t. But one reason truly from an ethics perspective and this works out the questions I always get right, is that people don’t think that they can be creative.
Lawyers look at our history and we’ve always named law firms after the people who work there or who own the firm, and they think that’s just how it’s done, and they don’t really realize that there is freedom to be more creative.
So that’s one part. I also think there’s a lot of ego involved. I think that people love to see their name on the door, and they have reached a certain point in their professional lives, their license to practice law, maybe they’re straight out of school, maybe they’re not, but they want to see Jones & Smith on the door because that makes them feel important and I really think ego plays a role.
And then my other reason that I think people who don’t get more creative is that partners don’t always agree on how to do a more creative name, but they can usually agree on putting all of their names together. And so if you have partners involved then there is some status that goes on amongst them, some jostling of whose name is first, but it’s kind of easy to agree to use your names.
Jared Correia: That’s a good point. I like all those points. So what you’re saying is I shouldn’t name my son Thundarr, is that a bad choice? Andy, do you have anything to add to that like, what do you think is the reason for this.
Andrew Garcia: So Megan makes some great points, and I think being at Suffolk now many of these years, I think her first point is excellent. I think a lot of lawyers just they don’t realize that they can be creative and opt with a trade name or opt with a tag line, because we just don’t teach them that in school.
I think many of us default to that traditional approach of just putting up our names. We could be driven by ego. I know that in some of the teachings and some of the readings that I’ve come across, some commentators, they will say that, hey, you’re the service provider and since people are really buying services from you, they’re buying you therefore use your name and brand yourself with your name.
And I think Megan is also right that again, we just as lawyers don’t realize that, maybe a trade name will work for us particularly if we are exploring a niche practice area, something that lends itself very well to a trade name.
Jared Correia: Yeah.
Andrew Garcia: Finally I would say too, in some instances it may be actually difficult to go with a trade name if you’re dealing with multiple partners who might be handling different practice areas. If you have one practice area, one lawyer is handling criminal, another one is handling immigration, and a third one is handling estate planning, how do you merge or complement those three practice areas together in such a way that just one trade name covers them all.
Jared Correia: Yeah, now that’s a good extension on Megan’s point about partners being able to agree that practical component of practice areas, that’s smart. I also like the notion of a tagline. Lawyers don’t use tag lines very regularly either in the way they market their businesses. What are your thoughts on lawyers doing that?
Megan Zavieh: That’s a really good point, because that’s a way to avoid having to come up with a trade name, maybe if you’re solo, it completely avoids having to have a fictitious business name statement. You could just be Smith Law but then you could have a really great tagline that explains what you do and you can change that easily. You can test it, if it doesn’t work well, you can try something else. That’s not a big deal to change. It’s not like changing your letterhead and domain. I think it’s a great idea.
Jared Correia: Andy, do you use the tagline for your law firm, I think you do, right?
Andrew Garcia: Yes for the estate planning practice area in our firm, we do.
Jared Correia: See you’re so savvy.
Andrew Garcia: Well no. Megan makes an excellent point of why taglines are great, because taglines can be changed and also taglines really are a great way to combine both the traditional approach and a way to convey to prospective clients exactly what the firm can do for them, what value the firm can bring to them.
So I’ve seen some great taglines where you’ve combined the traditional approach. There’s a lawyer in down in Florida, who uses a traditional approach for his or her name, but then adds the tagline Tampa DUI Defense. So right there we know that that attorney is providing DUI services.
Another one, another tax attorney who uses the tagline defending taxpayers all across America. Again, what a great tagline because here we know if we’re in trouble with the IRS, hey we can give him a call even if we might be in Massachusetts where I am and he might be let’s say in Texas.
Jared Correia: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this section, because this reminds me of those old wedding announcements that Jay Leno used to do on “The Tonight Show”, with like the humorous combinations of names, maybe I’m dating myself right now, but —
Megan Zavieh: I remember those.
Jared Correia: Good all right. And we’ve got some good tips for lawyers who want to think differently about naming their law firms, but we’re going to take a break right now, so we can talk about some well-named product vendors. Here is all the stuff you need to buy.
Advertiser: Is your firm experiencing missed calls, empty voicemail boxes and potential clients you will never hear from again? Enter Answer 1 Virtual Receptionists. They are more than just an answering service. Answer 1 is available 24×7. They can even schedule appointments, respond to e-mails, integrate with Clio, and much more. Answer 1 helps make sure your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call yourself at 1-800-answer 1 or visit them at HYPERLINK “http://www.answer1.com/podcast” answer1.com/podcast for a special offer.
Do you feel like your marketing efforts aren’t getting you the high value cases your firm deserves? For over 15 years, Scorpion has helped thousands of law firms, just like yours, to attract new cases and to grow their practices.
As a Google Premier Partner and winner of Google’s Platform Innovator Award, Scorpion has the right resources and technology to aggressively market your law firm and to generate better cases from the Internet. For more information, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.scorpionlegal.com/podcast” scorpionlegal.com/podcast today.
Jared Correia: Thanks for coming back. I am still here and so are Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law and Megan Zavieh of Zavieh Law, and we’re talking about law firm naming conventions or the lack thereof.
So, one of the obvious alternatives to the standard name, name, name PLLC law firm is to use a trade name instead and we addressed that in the last section, like you could call yourself the most awesome law firm ever PLLC, but wait Megan, why can’t you actually call yourself that?
Megan Zavieh: You definitely can’t. You can’t use a trade name that would be false or misleading and I think most people would find a trade name that implies that you are the best whether you are not, way too subjective and definitely misleading.
Jared Correia: Very good. You passed the test. So now, you’re an ethics attorney. So here’s the ethics attorneys moment to shine. We talked about trade names, we talked about taglines, what kind of ethical restrictions are there in place. I talked to attorneys across the United States and some of them want to start their own firms and they’re reticent to choose a trade name because they think it may be banned by their state ethics rules or they might be severely restricted in what they can choose for a name, so Megan what are your thoughts on that.
Megan Zavieh: Yeah definitely, no matter what we say here, every state has its own well pieces of this and different ways of looking at it. So definitely State rules matter, and I certainly look at this firm, the ABA Model Rules and the California Rules for the general propositions, and those are the same.
So one of the biggest ethics restrictions that we see when it comes to trade names is you can’t imply in any way that you’re part of a government agency and that can be really broadly construed.
So think of it this way, I defend lawyers for the State Bar of California. So if you ask me colloquially what you do, I’m a State Bar defense attorney but I can’t put State Bar of California defense attorney or State Bar Defense as my name, because it makes it sound like I am part of the State Bar and that can be tough because our practice area is often described using the same words as the primary agencies before which we appear.
So for example Workers’ Compensation Relief Center was found to be violation of that rule, that it sounded like you’re part of the workers’ compensation agency. So you’ve got to be really careful with those and same with if it’s a charity, you can’t sound like you’re part of a charity. So if you like that relief agency, sounds like you’re part of a charitable service instead of a for-profit law firm, so those are big ones.
Jared Correia: Would the same rules to your mind apply to taglines as well or would that be a different thing?
Megan Zavieh: So the rules don’t say anything about taglines.
Jared Correia: No, of course not.
Megan Zavieh: The rules are about trade names, and so it’s one of those things why I’m here. This is how why I have a job. We say oh well, what if I try this, what do we think the regulators would do? With trade names it’s right upfront, it’s how people talk about you and refer to you and your domain name and it’s on your business card with a tagline you’re describing what you do.
We haven’t found to be so hindered as to not be able to describe our practices. You still don’t sound like you’re part of the agency like I do have on my business card. It says Zavieh Law, Megan Zavieh State Bar Defense Attorney. I don’t think anyone looks at that and thinks oh my bet, she’s a member of the part of the — or part of the actual State Bar or employed by the State Bar. It’s pretty obvious. This is who I’ve been played by and this is what I do.
So I would not expect that we would find any regulators going after people for taglines that describe their work using the same words that agency names contain but I never swore an oath with State Bar regulators.
Jared Correia: I won’t hold my breath waiting for that comment to come into the rules. Do you know of any states that banned trade names in totality?
Megan Zavieh: I’m not aware of any state in which you can’t use a trade name. I suppose that’s possible and don’t practice everywhere but I would just say everyone should look to their rules because the useful thing with the rules is that there are often examples given in the comments that each state adopts. So even if the rule looks the same, those comments can give some really specific guidance.
Jared Correia: Oh good point. Nobody reads the rules but even a fewer people read the comments. So they’ve got some viable information in there.
Megan Zavieh: The comments are awesome. If you’re not reading the comments, you’re probably missing the whole point of the rule.
Jared Correia: Yeah, I think calling the comments awesome might be strong, but I get your point. So Andy coming back to you, for a law firm that can and wants to develop a trade name, given that there looks like there’s some latitude in terms of the ethics rules. What’s the best strategy to actually choose a name?
Andrew Garcia: Well, I think that the law firm needs to look internally into what practice areas they are offering. First of all, if you’re a law firm that is providing a bunch of different practice areas then simply put a trade name may be difficult for you to come up with. Maybe I should just back-up a little bit more there and just talk about generally the trade names.
So some trade names I’ve seen out there really identify the practice area that the firm is delivering. So for example, I’ve seen that in the elder law sphere, I’ve seen law firms with trade names called the Center for Elder Law, another one Senior Solutions LLC, Attorneys at Law. So here the trade name really just identifies what type of practice area that firm is going to provide.
But arguably, you could also have a trade name that just sort of pins you to a geographic area and following the ethics rules. We don’t want to violate those and I always remind my students as well, check your ethics rules to make sure whatever name you’re choosing is not going to be violative of them.
But maybe I decide I’m in with my partner and we’re in the South Coast of Massachusetts and maybe we want to call ourselves the South Coast Legal Center, something like that. That trade name is not necessarily identifying the services that we’re providing. It’s just identifying us from a location standpoint and also identifying to a prospective client that we’re providing legal services.
Jared Correia: Yeah.
Andrew Garcia: So I think that’s one thing. I think one of the cons that we frequently talk about in terms of using a trade name though is that it kind of can pigeonhole you into what you’re doing.
Jared Correia: That’s true.
Andrew Garcia: If all you’re doing is providing elder law services, well then a name like senior solutions is absolutely perfect. I mean it’s great. It tells the world what you’re doing and my opinion. It even elevates the firm almost to expert status.
Jared Correia: Oh, be careful there, be careful there. I think Megan is starting to sweat.
Andrew Garcia: I know she is, that’s why I was bringing it up in those terms because it almost elevates you from a consumer standpoint to wow, these guys must be the expert go-to people when it comes to senior solutions, okay. But it also pigeonholes you there because if you decide that you want to switch up now and start offering immigration services that may be difficult to do within the confines of that trade name.
Jared Correia: Yeah that’s a great point.
Andrew Garcia: The expert point that you bring up is definitely something to bear in mind, I think from an ethical standpoint.
Jared Correia: So in terms of like naming a law firm, a name that has nothing to do with the practice area, how do you feel about that like building a brand based on like a totally unique name that someone would just find catchy or memorable. Do you know if any firms that do that?
Andrew Garcia: I do not.
Jared Correia: I know a very few.
Megan Zavieh: Yeah what about like Think Pink Law. She’s actually out of Massachusetts Julie Tolek.
Jared Correia: Julie Tolek, yes.
Andrew Garcia: Yes I’ve heard of her, that’s right.
Megan Zavieh: Yeah, so she does gun law and she brands herself. It’s all about the femininity, she’s Think Pink Law. She always has something pink on. She’s beautiful with long blonde hair and always made up gorgeous and here she’s doing this incredibly masculine profession of specializing in gun law and here if you see Think Pink Law, you have no idea what she does. It’s not her name, it doesn’t say guns, not her logo does, but the name doesn’t but she’s building a brand around that it’s about her.
Andrew Garcia: I think it’s a fabulous approach and now that you mentioned her, doesn’t she drive around in a pink car even I think.
Jared Correia: I believe so, yes. Julie, I hope you’re listening because you’re basically getting a commercial for free here so I want some robust.
Andrew Garcia: It almost reminds me of Ganzel Law almost. I think it’s absolutely fabulous that kind of approach and what you can do with that just that brand itself and boy talk about flexibility, she can really do anything.
Jared Correia: She can do what really she wants.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah.
Jared Correia: I am hoping that more lawyers will adopt that approach moving forward. I think it’s very viable and it separates you in the market and I think in terms of fear like fear level one is moving away from your name. Fear level two is moving away for something that’s descriptive of our practice area.
This has been a great discussion. We’re getting a little long in the tooth on this section though, so I’m going to take another break and while I listen for that lonesome whippoorwill, you listen to some more words from our sponsors.
Firm Central, a cloud-based legal practice management software for solo and small firms, provides a single online location for all of the tools you need to manage client files and perform client work, and offers unrivaled integration with Westlaw. With Firm Central, you can securely store and organize documents and case files, manage time tracking and billables, and collaborate with clients through a secure client portal from anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Jared Correia: Thanks for coming back. This is our last segment. How is your Le Gusta Pizza? Andy, I’m looking at you right now, are you having a Le Gusta Pizza right now; because if you are, I am really jealous.
Andrew Garcia: I’m loving it, Jared. I’m loving it.
Jared Correia: Oh man, man, I can explain that later Megan if you want. But let’s reengage now with Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law and Megan Zavieh of Zavieh Law, whom we’re talking to about naming law firms. So let’s bring it back around Andy. If a law firm doesn’t want to do a trade name or can’t. Is there a way or ways to spice up a traditional law firm name and does the entity choice have any relevance for marketing purposes in that construct like is it viable or valuable to have like LLC after your law firm name versus like PC.
Andrew Garcia: Let me talk about the entity choice first, just in my opinion. It used to be that when my partner and I first started out, we had named our firm just our last names so it was Phillips & Garcia, PC that was it.
Jared Correia: Yeah.
Andrew Garcia: And then I came to the realization that not only was this a very basic traditional approach; of course, we were identifying what our entity was but what our firm lacked was any kind of identifier that we were actually doing law and I had one of those aha moments when I identified my firm to them and they said, so what do you do and then I started really looking around and started realizing that many law firms don’t even use that identifier. I was missing that sort of spice right there.
What a huge mistake I was making from a marketing standpoint too because here I am Phillips & Garcia, PC. People could confuse me with my brother down the street who is an engineer and his engineering firm, Garcia, Galuska, DeSousa, they had no identifiers either. Until again we started realizing that we needed to spice it up a bit from a marketing standpoint.
To get back to the whole entity identifier, I’m not sure that from a marketing standpoint and I’ll rely on Megan for the ethical opinion here but I’m not too sold on the LLC or the PC being of any value these days in terms of marketing the brand.
Jared Correia: Because clients don’t know what that means, really right.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah.
Megan Zavieh: They don’t know or they don’t care.
Jared Correia: Yes, yes. I think those probably are good points Andy and simply putting law or legal into a firm name changes things up a good deal. So Megan, in terms of firms that want to go with the traditional name, name, name conventional law firm designation because they have to or because ain’t looking for trouble.
What potential ethics issue can arise even from like vanilla names because there seems to be a lot of leeway there, right? I mean dead partners can remain on a law firm letterhead for like forever, right?
Megan Zavieh: They can. Yes you can see dead people in your law firm names.
Jared Correia: Oh nice pull there.
Megan Zavieh: But even there, you have to check your state’s rules, most of them they have no issue with it because there’s an ongoing association of that name with the firm. Johnnie Cochran’s firm still has his name on it.
Jared Correia: Oh, I did not know that.
Megan Zavieh: But if that partner left and did something else and then died, you could have a problem because they’re identified with the next thing that they did. So you have to look at that and you have to look at whose names you’re putting on there. If the purse — the two names that are married together in the law firm name aren’t really partners, that’s probably an ethics violation because people coming in think it’s a partnership.
You can’t put & Associates at the end, if there are no associates. If it’s Jones Smith & Associates but the only two lawyers are Jones and Smith it makes it sound like there’s more lawyers involved, so you can’t do that. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re putting the right names together even though it seems really safe to just list everyone’s names.
Jared Correia: That’s a great point. I also think like bringing it back to this conversation we just had with Andy like if your name is Pani, I think you can make a play-off of that too, like if my last name was sweet, I might do something surrounding candy, with the way I branded my law firm.
So let’s talk a little bit about that like and this is open to everybody like in terms of a name that a firm chooses and how they decide to play around with it and make it part of their branding. What other marketing strategy decisions does that affect like from picking a URL to finalizing a logo, to picking like a website color scheme, what do you think about that. Let’s start with Megan this time.
Megan Zavieh: Well I think you have to realize that whatever firm name you choose is going to be shortened and nicknamed in various ways and you need to play with it. Again, it’s like naming a child, figure out their initials, don’t make it ass, figure out what the initials are gonna be of your firm name.
Like Australians, we seem to shorten everything and if you don’t understand that Australians truly do take every word they can and make it shorter and sometimes the nickname is actually no shorter but they do it anyway like Christmas, they’ll call Chrissie, it’s still 2 syllables but registration is rego, okay.
I give him that they got a couple syllables off. My son, Matthew, became Maddie. I mean it’s just the same number of syllables but anyway like that, law firm names get condensed. Cravath, Swaine & Moore, does anybody remember Swaine & Moore? I was super familiar with Cravath in my big law days and I have to tell you this afternoon I googled it to make sure I had that right because I was like Moore, Moore, Cravath, Swaine & yeah Moore, I think so.
Because we keep shortening them and so when you think about your name, you might have the grandest four partners together with LLP whatever at the end that will look beautiful across letterhead and in the old days of metallic nice fonts on beautiful paper but that’s just not how it’s done anymore. And so how is it going to be shortened, what are you going to call yourselves, what’s that URL going to be because it had better to not be kirkpatricklockhartnicholsonandgraham.com. No one’s going to remember that.
Jared Correia: So what you’re saying is get your name first on the letterhead?
Megan Zavieh: Well, yeah I have to say I’ve always felt bad for those later names. I joined Kirkpatrick & Lockhart which then merged and became Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson, Graham, which then became K&LNG, then K&L. Eventually merged with Bill Gates’ dad’s firm it became K&L Gates. I am like whatever happened to poor Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Graham, they’re still here.
Jared Correia: That’s why you need a trade name, everybody’s happy, not just one person. All right Andy, go ahead, sorry.
Andrew Garcia: But circling back I think Jared you make a really good point when you were talking about last names that can actually be used for marketing purposes in turn. So when you were talking about –
Jared Correia: I like that.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah, you were talking about the last name is sweet and somehow maybe that could be Sweet Law and then you can make a whole marketing campaign just built off of how sweet you are as a law firm. So I think the point is that even employing a traditional approach, it can actually work when it comes to your marketing.
And you can be – if you’re lucky enough to have that kind of a last name, it can work your advantage and just as an example. So last year I had an in-class, I had an in-class law firm of two members and they were putting together a business plan for a law firm that would provide using my best memory here but they would effectively provide entertainment and intellectual property law for artists and writers, okay. It just so happened that their last names when combined in a traditional approach was the flip-flop of a very famous author.
Jared Correia: Oh that’s awesome.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah. And so when they used it and I have to admit I didn’t know who the author was but when they used it and when they presented it, and they explained the rationale behind it and how that kind of name could actually resonate to the target market, they were trying to attract for their firm. Wow, that made sense. It was a great moment for the traditional approach in my opinion.
Jared Correia: No that is a great moment in traditional law firm naming. That could be a whole set for podcast.
Andrew Garcia: That’s right yeah.
Jared Correia: One of the reasons I stopped practicing why I think is because my last name is Correia. I’m from the North Shore of Massachusetts, so North Korea did not really have great connotations in terms of branding, couldn’t work around that.
Megan Zavieh: It might depend on your practice area.
Jared Correia: Maybe, maybe.
Megan Zavieh: There might be a niche there for you, Jared.
Jared Correia: Maybe, maybe. I’ll go back one of these days, no, I won’t. But Andy you’re going to say something else, go ahead.
Andrew Garcia: I’m a big fan of the trade name being used in a URL or maybe put a different way, the specialty URL. I’m a big fan of that because we all may have multiple marketing campaigns and picking up URLs that contain in the URL name, whatever your practice area might be, whatever your niche practice might be, I think is really effective from a marketing standpoint because you can develop whole marketing campaigns around your particular URL.
So for example, a couple of years back, we have had that awful winter and then all of a sudden there were tons of people with ice dam problems.
Jared Correia: Yes, just like me.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah from the melting the snow, the snow —
Jared Correia: My daughter was born during the storm and for the first six months before her life, four of us were in one room. I remember that very well.
Andrew Garcia: Oh okay. No but that’s not a digression that was the year that many people had massive amounts of roof damage and property damage from these ice dams.
Jared Correia: Yes.
Andrew Garcia: So anyway my partner was really interested in trying to land some of these property damage claims cases. So we found the URL icedamclaims.com and started using that and a specific marketing campaign aimed directly at that type of case.
So even though we didn’t change the firm name, we didn’t have to change the firm name, we didn’t have to change the tagline, we could actually just use that specific URL, that specialty URL, as a marketing campaign for a specific type of case. And so I urge lawyers to really think out of the box when it comes to marketing campaigns and actually picking up specialty URLs.
Jared Correia: That’s a good suggestion. Megan, do you have anything to add on this topic at this point.
Megan Zavieh: I just think that Andy’s idea is awesome. I just have to say that. That’s a really great idea especially like that particular idea there with the ice dams, it’s a limited time that that’s going to be a big issue and you can quickly put it out there, grab the market share, yes, just really good idea.
Jared Correia: Andy just huddled in front of his computer buying URLs at 2 a.m.
Megan Zavieh: He is like I have another idea.
Jared Correia: It’s only ten bucks for this one.
Andrew Garcia: Yeah we’ve had about a hundred URLs I think on GoDaddy.
Jared Correia: Well this has been a great discussion but sadly, sadly that’s going to do it for this episode of the Legal Toolkit and for the podcasting team of Correia, Gracia, and Zavieh, PC. My partners may be won’t but I’ll be back for future shows with further insights into my soul, the soul of America, and the legal market.
If you’re feeling nostalgic however for my dulcet tones, you can check out our entire show archive anytime you want at legaltalknetwork.com. So thanks to Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law for appearing on today’s show. Andy, can you tell folks how to find out more about you and your firm.
Andrew Garcia: Absolutely, speaking of specialty URLS, they can visit me at southcoastestateplanning.com and also find me on Facebook, find me on Twitter. I encourage hooking up on Facebook and Twitter, so look for me out there.
Jared Correia: Thanks also to Megan Zavieh of Zavieh Law for coming on the show as well. Megan, can you tell everybody how to find out more about you and your firm and a little bit about your new podcast.
Megan Zavieh: Thanks. Yeah, absolutely. You can find me on Twitter these days that’s probably the best place to get with me and engage, that’s where you can find me @ZaviehLaw. And my website if you remember names is zaviehlaw.com but if you forget my name but you remember what I do, I have my blog at californiastatebardefense.com.
And then yes, the podcast is coming out in a matter of days, it’s called Lawyers Gone Ethical. It’s going to be some straight talk about legal ethics, it’s going to be a lot of fun because we’re going to talk about some practical nuts and bolts of what’s going on in the evolution of the business of law and how that goes along with the ethics rules.
So people can do things like figure out trade names that don’t violate the ethics rules. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Jared Correia: Straight talk on legal ethics, I like it. And by the time, this show releases that podcast will be available so just be aware of that. You can listen to it now. And finally, thanks to all of you out there for listening. This has been Andrew Garcia of Phillips Garcia Law and Megan Zavieh of Zavieh Law and it’s also been another episode of The Legal Toolkit podcast on Legal Talk Network. Talk to you next time.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Legal Toolkit, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host Jared Correia for his next podcast covering the current business trends for law firms.
If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com/”legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
Legal Toolkit highlights services, ideas, and programs that will improve lawyers' practices and workflow.
Sam Glover discusses his new book and tells firms how to position themselves for success.
Dan Hauck, chief product officer at NetDocuments, shares best practices for creating an effective virtual workspace for your law firm.
Jane Oxley, president of Smokeball, gives step-by-step guidance for small firms on how to choose and utilize tools for greater productivity.
Stuart Barr and Rob MacAdam of HighQ discuss how law firms can leverage their current technology and make smart choices for new legal...
Kimberly Rice offers actionable steps lawyers can use to develop a marketing mindset and take ownership of their legal career.
Louie Balasny discusses how modern law firms can benefit from virtual bookkeeping software.