Law firm logos are generally not considered “advertising” under ethics rules, so the restrictions on advertising and solicitation usually do not apply. (e.g., New York, Utah).
Jurisdictions that have discussed logos recognize that they typically do not extol a firm’s expertise, encourage a person to contact the firm, or otherwise solicit employment. Instead, logos are used to promote brand awareness.
That said, not just any logo will do:
- The information conveyed in law firm logos must be truthful and not misleading.
- A logo also should not include improper comparisons to other lawyers or firms.
- Law firms must be careful about the characterizations a logo may convey to the public.
One Florida case is instructive. There, the Florida Supreme Court reprimanded two lawyers for using a pit bull logo. The Court found that the logo would lead a reasonable consumer to conclude that the attorneys were advertising themselves as “vicious” and “combative” to the opposition (sorry, pit bull lovers), and thus, the logo was an improper characterization of the quality of the lawyers’ services in violation of Florida’s ethics rules.
Wonder if the opposite would be true. Would a firm using a puppy as its logo be improperly advertising itself as “overly cooperative” and “cajoling” to the opposition?