There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a logo. Logos are fine. Sometimes, they’re pretty cool. This is not about telling anyone that they should not have a logo.
Of course, I don’t have a logo. I never have. What was I thinking?
But as I sometimes do, I wandered into the pool at Lawyerist, where a very nice young lawyer, Josh Camson, has decided to write about his “journey” in opening a two man criminal defense practice. It’s not a particularly scary pool, as it’s a mile wide but only an inch deep. When Josh began this venture, I was dubious of its value; spreading bad information isn’t a virtue, even if it amuses other baby lawyers who want to “share” in the experience. But then, being an old curmudgeon, I likely couldn’t appreciate the benefit of crowdsourcing among new lawyers and marketers.
And I was just so damn negative about it all. Nobody is negative at the Lawyerist. It’s a supportive place, no matter how blitheringly stupid something may be. Never is heard a discouraging word.
There was the post about the name of the firm. Josh came up with a cool variation, running the two names of the partners together without a space or ampersand. I’m not sure it whether it was cool, but it was certainly different. He chose, however, not to use a misleading name, such as one that would suggest they had associates when they didn’t, or multiple offices when they didn’t, despite expert advice to the contrary.
Then came a post that disturbed me. The firm logo.
My partner and I knew from the beginning that we wanted the firm to have an identity.
Now, had Josh begun his post with something along the lines of “I realize that this is silly and utterly inconsequential, but having already spoken with my mentors today, signed up for some skills CLEs and shined my shoes, I have nothing better to do,” I wouldn’t have been troubled at all.
But that’s not what he wrote. Instead, he wrote this:
In the end, we went with the logo we thought would look good in black and white as well as color. We plan on doing some mailers that may be black and white, so we had to take that into account. It had to look equally good on a business card, our website, and any marketing materials we send out.
In other words, the logo mattered. To Josh. And to the marketers who applauded Josh. And to the baby lawyers who offered supportive comments to Josh. One marketer with “vast experience,” Karin Conboy, who apparently also writes insipid posts for the Lawyerist, had this to say:
Having a successful logo is not meant to be a reflection of your competence, and no one is suggesting that it is. It is meant to be a representation of your brand and reputation and a method for clients to cut through the clutter of competing messages. A logo is a critical part in the development of any business. SHG, when do you suggest that should Josh be thinking about his logo?
Never would be a good time. Or when he’s sitting there staring at the silent phone and has absolutely nothing useful to do would be a good time. But never would be a better time, since the silent phone would be the sort of snarky comment that opens the door to the marketer. If only he markets the crap out of himself, the phone will ring, they say. Let’s investigate, shall we.
Will clients call this budding criminal defense lawyer because he has a fabulous logo? No. Never. Won’t happen. Consider this “hater” dialogue.
“So Joe, did you get a good lawyer?”
“Yeah, Sid. You should see his logo.”
“Has he ever tried a case?”
“Well, no, but the blue in his logo really pops.”
What if a potential client actually did call, spying this logo and saying to himself, any lawyer with a cool logo like this is the lawyer for me. And this highly impressionable client retained Josh’s services to defend him in court. And the client wanted to go to trial. And Josh, whose experience in the law thus far has been limited to a stint as a clerk for a judge, is constrained to tell this client that he’s never tried a case. He’s never opened. He’s never closed. He’s never cross-examined a witness. He’s never made an objection. He’s never picked a jury. He’s never made a Batson challenge or won a Batson challenge.
But he has a logo.
Karin Conboy, the marketer, might argue that he’s got to start somewhere, so why not bring in clients with his logo and worry about defending them later? At least he can put some food on the table, if not a client in the clink, and isn’t that really what the practice of law is all about?
This where mean old men, like me, get unhappy. It’s a matter of sequence, where first a new lawyer concerns himself with gaining the competency to be a lawyer. Later, he can worry about marketing, though if he’s done step one properly, he won’t have to. He will have already, inadvertently, “branded” himself as a competent, diligent lawyer. Old lawyers never called this branding, of course. This was what we called practicing law.
My pal from Portland, David Sugerman, saw some of the hubbub I created at Josh’s post and twitted :
Why bother? Talking to these pinheads is like pissing in the wind.
Because these pinheads are the future of the legal profession. Because these pinheads may one day hold someone’s life in their hands. It may well be a worthless effort, ignored and rejected as just more hatred by old lawyers of new, who are jealous of their coolness, youth and vigor, and who smack them around to make ourselves not feel so bad about past our prime. But to leave these pinheads to their own devices is to abdicate the responsibility we have toward our profession and the public. So what if they think we’re a bunch of nasty old morons. The obligation persists.
Then again, I don’t have a logo. In almost 30 years of practice, I never realized that I should. It never dawned on me to sell myself like laundry detergent or a pick-up truck. Having done it wrong all this time, and no client having shown the decency to tell me that they retained me despite my lack of a logo, Josh’s post has made me realize this gaping hole in my law practice.
Anybody have an idea of a logo for me? And no phallic symbols, please, you snarky people. Why shouldn’t an old dog like me be cool too? Turn my frown upside down. To make this even more fun, whoever produces the cooliest logo will win a prize. More pie.
And the logo will mean absolutely nothing to anyone ever. That’s okay, however, because I can cross-examine a witness. My clients tend to like that about me.