An increasing number of lawyers are tempted to put their primary practice area in their law firm name. No matter their practice area, the firm name often says the area of law in it, like bankruptcy, personal injury, family law, criminal law, etc. They then end the firm name with the terms center, clinic, group, legal practice, partners, etc.
Some law firms can even get much much more specific. They might include their specific niche within that area of law within their name. You often see that with law firms that practice traffic law who put the word “traffic” or “DWI” in their law firm name. Some firms might focus on drug-related criminal law might include the word “marijuana” in their law firm name. In the area of family law, some firms might include the word “divorce,” “family law” or “adoption” in their law firm name.
The idea behind this is that the consumer will clearly know the area of law in which their law firm practices. The hope is that this leads to more business for the law firm. Some might even theorize by putting their area of law in their law firm name that their webpage will rank higher in the search engines.
The reality, however, is that with many law firms taking this approach, the advantage gained by putting in the area of law in the law firm name can become muted when multiple law firms in a locality are taking this same approach. In fact, it might just come off as generic. For example, if there is a Traffic Law Center, Traffic Law Group, Traffic Law Clinic, and Traffic Law Partners in the same location, the consumer can end up becoming quite confused. They might wonder whether these are even the same firm.
With these names being so similar, a consumer of legal services might see an ad for the Traffic Law Group, but they could end up calling and hiring the Traffic Law Clinic simply out of confusion because of the closeness of the names. This means that a law firm’s advertising efforts might end up helping a competitor with a similar name.
If the idea of having the area of law in the name of the law firm is to help the search engine optimization of the law firm’s webpage, the truth is the URL of a webpage is generally not a major ranking factor in the search engines. Instead, search look at lots of other factors more prominently like the content on the webpage, the quality of the backlinks, the age of the domain, whether the domain is secured, and even the coding of the webpage itself.
If a lawyer also wants to make a name for themselves in the community, having the area of law in the law firm name can mute those efforts. Put simply, if a lawyer’s name is in the law firm name, consumers in the community can get to know that lawyer’s name. Equity is actually build up behind the lawyer’s name.
Where the name of the firm is simply based on the primary area of law the firm practices, the opposite can end up becoming true. Most in the community might not have much familiarity with any lawyers in the firm because they are not named partners. That can lead to less legal consumers coming to a law firm because they want a particular lawyer who has notoriety in the community.
Further, if that lawyer ends up leaving at some point, they have not built any equity with their name. That can make it difficult for the lawyer’s career long-term. Additionally, if the law firm ever wants to take cases in other areas or sub-areas, that can be quite difficult when one specific area of the law is in their name.
Deciding what to name a law firm is an important decision. There is no question there is a trend with some law firms to include their area of law in their name. But lawyers should think long and hard about it before deciding to do so. The truth is that, while trendy, there are many downsides to this approach.
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