Law Firm Names

Back in August, the law firms of Faegre & Benson and Baker & Daniels confirmed that they were engaged in merger talks. Today the firms announced that their partnerships have voted in favor of the combination.

The merger will take effect on January 1, 2012, and the new entity will be known as Faegre Baker Daniels. The website will be located at faegrebd.com (which right now is occupied by a GoDaddy.com placeholder page).

What will the new firm look like?

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Edwards Angell & Wildman Harrold: A match made in heaven?

What results from the coupling of an angel and a wild man? One might think: angel + wild man = air traffic nightmare.

In the law firm context, however, the result is quite different. Edwards Angell is merging with Wildman Harrold, to form Edwards Wildman Palmer. The merger will take effect on October 1 and “will bring together 650 lawyers across two legacy firms renowned for their deep experience, shared dedication to client service, and highly collaborative cultures,” according to the new firm’s website.

What else do we know about Edwards Wildman Palmer? And what might be motivating this merger?

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A friend of mine is a plaintiff’s lawyer in Boston. We’ve opposed each other on several cases, and our interactions (always on the phone; weirdly, we’ve never met in person) are characterized by good-natured but acerbic jabs. Typically, he would bemoan my clients’ “colossally stupid” behavior. For my part, I would make fun of his firm’s name.

Don’t get me wrong: his firm is one of the most respected plaintiff’s firms in town. But its name follows the classic ego-gratifying law-firm style of putting all the partners’ surnames on the letterhead. With Biglaw firms, this doesn’t matter much, because the name partners tend to be, well, not-so-much alive. And the sheer number of partners at big firms means that ego notwithstanding, most aren’t getting their names on the sign.

But small firms have (by definition) fewer partners — with just as much ego. And they tend to be living. So the firm names are long and subject to frequent change.

Why is this a problem for small firms, and what they should do about it?

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I don’t know who Janofsky and Walker angered, but they are off the marquee at Paul Hastings. Yep, this Friday, “Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & LLP” will officially become “Paul Hastings.”

We’ve already noticed that Paul Hastings has a snazzy new logo.

But did you know that Paul Hastings also has a video to go along with their rebranding? Oh yes they do! Clearly, Messrs. Janofsky and Walker were just way too inside the box for the new and exciting Paul Hastings…

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I'm pretty sure this was the only child to die under suspicious circumstances in the past three years.

* Caylee’s Law would make it a felony for anybody to grieve for their child in any way that doesn’t involve law enforcement within the hour. I trust the libertarian crowd is going to help me point out how this is dumb. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Big time antitrust lawyer Christine A. Varney is leaving the Justice Department and heading to Cravath (perhaps as a replacement of sorts for Katherine Forrest). So it looks like there was some money left over after spring bonuses for Cravath to make a new hire. Phew. [Dealbook]

* Eliot Spitzer (f.k.a. the steamroller) just got flattened by Erin Burnett. [Dealbreaker]

* Even judges in Flori-duh are allegedly bats**t crazy. [Obscure Store]

* In more reasonable news coming out of Florida, this reminds me of the “mock trial” club in high school. [Miami New Times]

* Courtesy of NALP, here’s more evidence that the class of 2010 is totally screwed. You know, I wish I could have the entire class over to my house for a big pity party. We could all hang out and play Rock Band, and at the end everybody could have a cup of my delicious homemade Kool-Aid. [NALP]

* Chicago law firm merger mania? I just hope nothing messes with the name “Wildman Harrold.” [ABA Journal]

Before this column launched, I spent several moments stewing over possible pseudonyms. After all, branding is everything. So, I wanted to come up with a name that said to my audience that I was a small-firm expert and a super-cool chick. Naturally, I picked the name that is synonymous with post-menopausal Jewish bubbies. Perhaps I still have a thing or two to learn about branding.

I am not the only small-firm lawyer with a problem selecting the right name. Indeed, after Jay Shepherd opened my eyes to the hyphen-crisis, I began noticing a comma-crisis. Specifically, I noticed that there are a lot of small firms with way too many last names strung together with commas.

Why is it that many small firms have such problems coming up with the perfect firm name? Let’s explore this age-old question….

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As we mentioned in our last story on the embattled Howrey law firm, the remaining partners will vote this week on whether to wind down the 55-year-old shop. According to Am Law Daily, that vote is set to take place on Wednesday.

For the past few weeks, Winston & Strawn has been waiting in the wings, hoping to help itself to Howrey’s healthiest parts. But as we’ve chronicled in these pages, many of the strongest partners and practice groups have already defected to other firms.

Let’s discuss the latest developments — and also learn the fate of current 3Ls holding offers from Howrey….

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Lawyers have been all up in The Tonight Show’s grill this year, thanks to the Jay Leno – Conan O’Brien smackdown. But the lawyers were relegated to an off-screen role. Jay Leno never name-checked Gibson Dunn (that we know of) for repping NBC and helping to put him back on his throne.

Another Biglaw firm did get a shout-out from Leno on Monday night, though. During his headlines bit, Leno got laughs thanks to Morrison & Foerster.

What funny business did they get up to?

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kathleen kathy sullivan quinn emanuel urquhart sullivan.jpgThe elevation of Kathleen Sullivan to name partner at Quinn Emanuel symbolized some serious change in the world of Biglaw. Diversity in the partnership ranks is growing. Sullivan is likely Biglaw’s first openly LGBT name partner, and she appears to be the first female to get her name on the door at an AmLaw 100 firm.

We raised the gender milestone question last week, asking our readers if they knew of any that came before her.
We think it is now fair to award her this distinction in Biglaw lore. After all, the next day, the American Lawyer declared it definitively: Quinn Emanuel Becomes First Am Law 100 Firm to Have a Female Name Partner.

But our readers did raise the names of some other notable females who deserve asterisks next to their names in the legal history books…

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An ATL favorite, Quinn Emanuel, is making a change to its firm name. From the Quinn press release:

John B. Quinn announced today that the firm he and Eric Emanuel founded 25 years ago will change its name, and henceforth be known as Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. The decision to add Kathleen M. Sullivan as a name partner was made in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the firm and the profession. Sullivan is a partner in the firm’s New York City office and heads the firm’s national appellate practice.

Congratulations to former Stanford Law School dean Sullivan.

Of course, now that she’s a name partner, we are eagerly awaiting for the ATL community to honor Kathleen Sullivan with her own meme. John Quinn doesn’t use capital letters. Bill Urquhart … really likes capital letters. We can’t wait to see what Sullivan comes up with.

Read the full press release, plus an UPDATE with some observations from Lat, after the jump.

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