Starting your own law firm is an exciting – and daunting – task, especially if you are going out on your own as a solo attorney. Whether you are early in your legal career or transitioning out of a big law firm, you may not know what marketing items you will need to launch your new entity and be successful.
In a solo law practice, there are a few branding essentials you will need to get your practice off the ground. Below are the six most important items to focus on to get your law firm started.
Whether your logo is your law firm name in black type or an intricately designed graphic element, you should make sure to have your logo files saved and available to you in the correct formats. Make sure to ask the person or company designing your logo for the following:
- Native design files or .eps files (.jpegs and .pngs are not what you need)
- Logo colors, including the Pantone, CMYK, and hex codes for all colors used
- Fonts used, plus font files if purchased specifically for your firm
You can and should also have design files of your logo in multiple orientations, including in a square ratio that can be used on social media channels. It’s also helpful to have a reverse logo – i.e., a white or lighter color variation of your logo that will contrast with a dark background. Make sure to save all of these files somewhere safe so you always have access to them, as they are the foundation of your law firm’s branding.
Let’s face it: gone are the days of printing law firm letterhead on expensive, watermarked bond paper stock. In today’s digital world, the majority of communication happens digitally. It’s therefore important to have letterhead that looks great as a PDF file.
Many logo designs use a non-standard font, which is essentially a font that does not come pre-installed as part of Microsoft Word’s suite of fonts. So even though your computer might have that font installed, if you send a document using that font to opposing counsel or a referral attorney, they most likely won’t have it. The font will then look distorted to your recipient because Word will replace it with whatever it decides to select.
This means letterhead needs to be designed in one of two ways:
- Add your firm’s logo as a .jpeg or .png file to the Word document and have all additional contact information in a standard Microsoft font, OR
- Import the entire header with all contact information as a single image file.
I prefer option two as it allows you to use your law firm’s font for your name and contact info, and it absolutely ensures the design is not altered in any way when a document is converted to a PDF.
Even though it’s a digital world, relationship building is all about selling yourself – and this is often done in person. Having a nice business card can leave a lasting impression with those you meet, and it should provide them with all of your contact information.
A well-designed business card should at least include your:
- Law firm name
- Physical address (or mailing address if you are virtual)
- Office phone number
You might also choose to include a mobile number if it is different than your office number. You can also include an item that quickly indicates a strong point of differentiation, such as a board certification. Keep in mind that a business card is small, so don’t overload it with too much information.
Make sure the information is easy to read, and consider leaving some empty space for you or the recipient to jot down a note (e.g., where and when you met). Finally, make sure to select a nice paper stock – something that is not too thin and seems cheap but not so thick that it prevents you from carrying several with you. Paper comes in weights, and I find 100lb smooth cover is the perfect weight for a nice, crisp business card.
Envelopes / Labels
You will need either or both envelopes or return address labels for your law firm. Envelopes can be expensive to have custom printed, and you may need more than one size (e.g., #10 business envelope and a 9 x 12 flat envelope).
Instead, consider having several sizes of mailing labels designed. Mailing labels come in standard sizes and can be run on your average office color printer. Labels are much more cost effective, take up much less space than a large box of envelopes, and still give you the opportunity to have your branding on mailed items.
Email is the primary form of communication for most law firms, so make sure you have your branding solidified for this medium. A great email signature should include relevant contact information, your law firm logo or mark, and links to your website and other digital assets. You do not need every badge for every award or professional association membership in your email signature; these make signature blocks obnoxiously large and generally don’t render the same (or well) across all email software
There are great options available to help easily design an email signature, including my favorite, Wisestamp. These software options allow you to design a professional looking email signature without any coding necessary, and help keep the look of your email signatures uniform across all firm members.
Every law firm – whether it has one attorney or 1,000 attorneys – needs a website. Websites are your marketing workhorse. They provide an online point of verification for potential clients and referral sources in addition to serving as a lead generation and client acquisition mechanism. Every single person you meet with in a business capacity will look you up online. So, you need to make sure your online presence reflects who you are and what you do in the best possible way. The easiest way to do this is with a website.
Your website should absolutely match your other branded elements, including incorporating your logo and its colors and fonts. If you are a solo attorney or smaller law firm, having updated, professionally-shot headshots is even more important as you are the face of your law firm. This photo should be featured prominently on your website. Your website also needs a well-written and in-depth biography of you. You are the commodity being sold, so make your biography the best sales pitch it can be.
Once you have these six branding essentials completed, you can look to expand your branding in both print and digital mediums, including item such as notecards, brochures, social media channels, email marketing, legal directory listings, and more. To get help with branding essentials for a new law firm or redefining and updating an existing law firm brand, contact us today.