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Gibbons, which until this week was Gibbons Del Deo Dolan Griffinger & Vecchione, knows the significance of a name. Before becoming Gibbons Del Deo, the firm was Crummy Gibbons & O’Neill. “‘Crummy’ became a hurdle to us and we wanted to take down that hurdle,” said the firm’s managing director, Patrick C. Dunican Jr. This time around, the firm was looking to be consistent with how the firm is known and follow the trend of national and international law firms and corporations that have easily remembered names, according to Dunican. Dunican said that to stick with five names in a firm is anachronistic – a point echoed by legal consultants The Legal spoke with for this article. Legal consultant Stacy Clark said that she tells her clients to “check the egos at the door” and consider shortening their firms’ names. But most midsize firms still balk at the idea. “Smaller firms aren’t moving as quickly as they should, partly because name partners are still there and the [other] partners are hesitant to slight them,” Clark said. Firms everywhere are shortening their names, she said. Clark pointed to California-based Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, which is commonly known as simply “O.” Clark said there were some exceptions to her recommendation to shorten firm names. If a firm has a satellite office run by a name partner or if the firm is located in a small community, it can be important to retain a longer firm name, she said. Ultimately, firms just need the name to be memorable. For Gibbons, the name change is part of a bigger PR/branding strategy, Dunican said. The change coincides with the launch of a new Web site and a new platform for the new Gibbons logo – the firm is moving to a new building near its current building in Newark, N.J., where the logo will be prominently featured. Four of the previously name partners at Gibbons are still at the firm, Dunican said. Those partners “enthusiastically embraced” the name shortening, he said, because they are “students of the legal marketplace” and understood its importance. The firm is naming a conference room after each of those partners at its new office. Legal consultant Robert Denney said there is more to branding than just a new name or logo. When considering a name change or general marketing, midsize firms need to consider how they want to be seen, he said. Denney said midsize firms do look to the biggest firms for strategies in marketing – including name shortening – but that they should focus on their practice areas. “The biggest thing is – do not try to be all things to all people. Carefully select areas of the practice that are strong and constantly market those areas to very targeted audiences,” Denney said. Dunican said there was no question that the firm had taken cues from big firms shortening their names and said Gibbons’ clients themselves had also focused on easy-to-remember brands. Midsize firms have different approaches to making their lengthy, sometimes tongue-twisting names more palatable. Marie Milie Jones, managing partner of Pittsburgh-based Meyer Darragh Buckler Bebenek & Eck, said the firm had not officially changed its name, but had moved to going by “Meyer Darragh” in the spirit of simplicity. The firm uses “Meyer Darragh” on its letterhead, marketing materials, and when its staff answers the phone, she said. Jones said the firm had not discussed officially shortening its name because it didn’t seem necessary. And the firm has name partners who still practice, she said. “We’re comfortable having the formal official name, but using the shorter name. It’s not really a necessity to have it be shorter,” Jones said. Maury B. Reiter, managing partner at Kaplin Stewart, said though his firm had officially changed its name he was not sure it really made any difference. Until about four years ago Kaplin Stewart went by its longer name, Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, he said. “We did it, but it had no impact. We [shortened our name] as a marketing instrument and at the end of the day, it just makes it easier for people to deal with us,” Reiter said. Reiter said he thought midsize firms were less concerned with “branding” and were more focused on building personal relationships to market themselves. Joe Linsley, director of business development for Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, said the firm was generally referred to as “Zarwin Baum” internally and externally. Linsley said the firm had discussed changing the name, but had decided against it for now. Instead, the firm has chosen to use “Zarwin Baum” on its logo and various marketing products, but to retain the long firm name, he said. Zarwin Baum used to have all its attorneys listed on its letterhead, but in an effort to simplify, has taken them off because the letterhead became too busy, he said. Legal consultant Joel Rose said he had discussed name shortening with some of his clients. Recently, he said he suggested that a firm with seven names reduce that number. Rose said four of the name partners had passed away, but three were still members. The discussion was long, drawn out and emotional, he said. Eventually, the firm decided to retain two of the names and add two of its rainmakers. The issue was so touchy – as with many discussions of firm name change – that Rose preferred to keep the firm’s identity confidential.

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