“Nice to meet you. Here’s my [crappy, flimsy] card.”

by Ross Fishman

You ever receive a business card that’s on cheap paper?  That feels thin and flimsy, and… wilts?   We all have. Remember the subtle, subconscious feeling of disappointment?  What a missed opportunity that was for them to convey their quality and prestige?  First impressions matter, and for a few lousy cents per card, perhaps an extra couple bucks a year, they could have conveyed a dynamic, high-end impression to every single person and prospect they met, all year.

Your logo and business card are the tangible, physical embodiment of your entire law practice.  If your card implicitly says “Mediocre,” “Cheap,” or “Boring,” it’s just a little bit harder to prove that you’re high-quality and creative. Why take the chance?  Would you trust your money to a bank that saved a few pennies on the paper on its executives’ cards?  Would you hire a law firm to handle a crisis if their cards seemed to be designed by Kinko’s?  Maybe.  But maybe not.
Lawyers sell an expensive, high-risk, intangible service.  Prospects can’t take us for a test drive, so always they’re looking for something tangible to hang their hat on. 
This is why business cards are disproportionately important — it’s something prospects can actually see and feel.  It’s why we usually recommend to our clients that we engrave their cards and use slightly thicker card stock.  It’s why we make a big deal about a high-quality logo and layout.  Little things can mean a lot when forming a first impression.
Last week, I spoke at the national conference of The Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, a ~1,000-member honorary association of some of the nation’s best trial lawyers, in-house lawyers, and litigation managers.
These are the types of lawyers who have handled hundreds of big trials. They’re a VERY impressive group; I don’t think the CIA vets its spies as rigorously as the FDCC does its potential members. 
Of course, I collected some of the members’ business cards for later follow-up.  And as always, there were the wide variations in design and message.  Above is a quick snapshot of eight of them I just pulled out of my pocket.  It’s a fairly typical cross section of what you’d generally expect to receive.
What do you notice? Which grabs your attention? Which do you like or dislike?  Most importantly, where does your card fit in this spectrum?  These are all from amazingly high-quality trial lawyers, but the cards’ design, style, and tone vary greatly. 
What do you notice?  Did you see how Neil Dymott’s extra-large sans serif logo jumps out at you, compared to Lewis Brisbois’s next to it?  Sulloway & Hollis’s typeface is an unusual purple, and the curved orange line is subtle but impactful, but Ed Kaplan’s name is in a traditional black type. 

Garvey Schubert Barer’s strong orange box grabs your attention, and the unusual triangular notch adds interest.  Compare the GSB card to Beirne, Maynard & Parson’s to its left.  These two designs convey very different messages about the nature of the firms’ culture, style, and practice.  It’s not a question of whether any particular design is “better or worse” as much as whether the messages they convey about the firm are what they intend.

The piercing gaze of Ottawa’s Bertschi Orth Smith’s sculpture* commands attention.

Although you can’t feel it, Bob Christie’s card in the top-right corner is both extra thick (practically a cardboard drink coaster) and a full quarter-inch taller than a standard card, and has rounded corners.  The all-caps sans serif font completes a truly standout design – while elegant, this card could also come from a design, marketing, or other creative agency.
Now compare the logos from the bottom two cards, Bertschi and Meckler Bulger. Notice the tight lines above and below the Lewis Brisbois logo, and how all the names are on a single line. 

The Bertschi text is in all caps, emphasizes the first firm name, and adds an unusual diamond-shaped “ampersand.” Compare that to Meckler Bulger et al.’s, which weights all five names equally, with very little space dividing them.  Note the subtly embossed initials. 

Do you see how the layout of W. Michael Scott’s card emphasizes the lawyer, rather than the firm?

Each is an intentional design decision made by a skilled law firm — either a specific decision made by a professional designer, or by the law firm’s decision not to use one.  Look at these options, just a random group I pulled out of my pocket, and consider whether the card in your wallet conveys the message you want it to regarding the nature and quality of your practice. 
For example, it’s easy for me to believe that Bob Christie approaches his cases creatively – the clean design of his business card reinforces that message.  Neil Dymott’s card is strong and direct — just like its dynamic founder, Marine General Mike Neil.

Bertschi’s card makes me want to go visit the website for more information.

Does yours?

* “Whether to you our logo recalls Cicero, the Emperor Justinian I, Solomon or a Centurion – to us, it is a single figurehead upon which rests the foundation and principles of our practice.”
All the images (c) 2012 the referenced firms.

Written by:

Ross Fishman

Fishman Marketing, Inc. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.