Gibbons Del Deo, Law Firm Mergers, Law Firm Names

The Law Firm Name Game: Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

names.gif“Small is beautiful.” That seems to be the trend with cell phones, digital cameras — and, of course, law firm names:

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary has officially shortened its name to DLA Piper.

One of the world’s largest law firms with 3,100 lawyers, DLA Piper is the culmination of a series of mergers, beginning with the 1999 combination between Baltimore’s Piper & Marbury and Chicago’s Rudnick & Wolfe. At the beginning of last year, the firm then known as Piper Rudnick officially merged with both Palo Alto, Calif.-based Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich and British legal giant DLA, which had 1,800 lawyers.

The firm said it had always planned to shorten the name after a transitional period.

Here’s our question: Why stop there? Why not just call the firm “DLA,” “DL,” or just plain “D”? Law firms have become huge businesses; they might as well sound like them — like GM, GE, IBM, etc.
This is only the latest example of a law firm streamlining its moniker by chopping off unnecessary or unwieldy partner surnames. Some years ago, the venerable “Dechert, Price & Rhoads” turned into “Dechert” — a sign that it had arrived, like “Madonna” or “Cher.” And “Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn” became “Proskauer Rose.” (What prompted that change? Was it to avoid any negative associations with subway shooter Bernhard Goetz?)
Sometimes firms change their names not to make them shorter, but just to avoid being the butt of jokes by opposing counsel. Take one of New Jersey’s largest law firms, Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger, & Vecchione. It used to be “Crummy, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger, & Vecchione.” But when former Third Circuit Chief Judge John J. Gibbons (re)joined the firm, they quickly dumped “Crummy” and replaced it with “Gibbons.”
W can hardly blame for that. But we still feel bad for poor Andrew Crummy.
Two Across, Eight Letters: Firm Its Shortens Name [New York Law Journal]

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