Practice Management — 01 December 2021
Who Decides Which Partner’s Name Goes First?

Naming conventions are never set in stone. When building a new law practice from the ground up, which partner’s name goes first? It’s no surprise that different lawyers have different opinions on the subject! Some believe that it should be first determined who did the most legwork for the new firm. Others believe that it should be the person who came up with the idea. Some believe it should be the person who secured the biggest investments!

At the end of the day, the decision is made by the people in charge. Conventions aren’t everything. So how will you make this tough decision? Here are the best ways.

First and foremost, your decision is mostly irrelevant. Both of your names are there! The collection of letters that strike the prospective client’s eye first doesn’t even matter unless there are more than two. We believe the best rule of thumb is to use the “catchiest” or most unique surname first. Have all the partners — or even the new associates — put the order of names they prefer in a hat. Whichever combination gets the most votes wins!

If you don’t want to give everyone working in the new firm a say, then that’s okay too. 

One common pitfall? Anyone who doesn’t like your firm will be searching for ways to tear it down most efficiently. Sometimes the easiest way to do that is by making people laugh. Let’s say your firm’s name is “Fox, Ursula, Camry, and Kraken.” Is that a real collection of names? Of course not. But the example serves another purpose! What happens when you make the most obvious acronym out of those names?

Another pitfall is illegal naming. You probably want to avoid names of people who already hold a public office, lawyers or otherwise. Naming your practice after a guy with the last name “Trump?” Bad idea.
At the end of the day, your decision only matters if the names are common, illegal, or can make an inappropriate acronym.

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Dolores Obrien

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