General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Why do law firms insist on having the name of every partner in the firm's name?

Asked by tinyfaery (36244 points ) March 5th, 2009 from iPhone

Is it ego? Does it serve some purpose? Not only does it take 30 seconds for the receptionist to say the name of the firm when answering the phone, but it makes it difficult to print out a nice, neat mailing label.

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8 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Not all firms do this. Some firms are named after partners who are no longer living, or practicing.

Darwin's avatar

The firm I worked for only had the names of the four founding partners in it, one of whom had since retired. It was still hard to say on the phone, especially on Mondays. The firm did a lot of divorces and a lot of panicked custodial parents always called Monday morning because the other parent had not returned the kids. There were a total of 10 partners in that firm.

And as Ms. Prufrock says, some firms keep the well-known name of a deceased partner. This is largely because of name recognition.

For example, Hale and Dorr was founded in Boston in 1918 by Richard Hale, Dudley Huntington Dorr, Frank Grinnell, Roger Swaim and John Maguire. It was named for the partners with the biggest investment. All of the original partners are long since gone, but the name of the firm remained at least until it finally merged with another large firm in 2004 and no other partner’s names have ever been added to the name.

Hale and Dorr partner Jerome Facher was the defense attorney in the case documented in the book A Civil Action. Other partners in the firm have included Fred Fisher and Joseph Welch (who helped create Joseph McCarthy’s downfall), Robert Mueller (was a partner there before returning to public service and becoming the 12th head of the FBI), and James St. Clair (Richard Nixon’s attorney during impeachment). Nonetheless the firm’s name remained Hale and Dorr.

Eventually it merged with another big firm to become Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. The merged entity has changed its name to WilmerHale.

mirifique's avatar

There’s a difference between a “named partner” and a “partner.”

cwilbur's avatar

Status. You can be a partner without having your name in the name of the firm. Once you’re making $300K a year, another $50K a year isn’t worth as much as having the receptionist say your name when answering the phone.

Johnny_B_Goode's avatar

So you can know WHO is suing you….intimidation tactic. (”

VS's avatar

I thought they were all named “Dewey, Cheatham & Howe” :D

Darwin's avatar

@VS – No, that’s the other guy’s lawyers.

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