It's the dream of many lawyers to hang out their own shingle. But once you set up your own practice, literally where should you hang your shingle? On the roof? In front of the building? On the window or front door?
These are actually real concerns. As much as judges in the Ivory Tower like to wax poetic about how law is a "profession," as we've written about before, law is -- if you're in a solo or small firm -- a business as much as a profession, and you need to know how to run it as such.
OK, rant's out of the way. So where should you put up your law firm's signage? Here are a few tips to consider:
It Depends on Where You Are
Drive-by signage: If your office is located in the 'burbs, then people are more likely to drive there than to walk. This means that your sign -- or at least one of them -- should be close to the road so that people driving by can see it. If they planned to visit you, they'll know where you are. If they're not planning a visit, but they're looking for an attorney, they'll see the sign. Basically, make it easy for people to find you.
Eye-level signage and lobbies: Now, if you're located in a city, you're probably inside a larger building. This necessitates having a sign on the building, if possible, somewhere near eye-level, because people are going to be walking in. You'll also need signage in the lobby (if there's a lobby) so that people know where the heck you are inside the building.
Heads up: A word on overhead signs, which is where the phrase "hang your shingle" comes from (a lawyer's sign was, literally, painted on a roof shingle and hung outside the building): Dan Mika, writing in the magazine SignCraft (yes, there's a magazine for sign-makers), cautions that customers don't necessarily know to look up when they're walking down the street. "If this is the only sign your [business] has, there's less opportunity for impulse buyers to drop in," he says.
What Goes on Your Sign?
Signs are funny things: You don't want them to say too much, because you want them to be readable on the run. If someone has to stop to read the sign, he may as well not read it at all.
So don't lard up your sign with information. Your sign should have only your firm's name in big letters and then sparse contact information -- phone number and maybe email address or website -- in smaller letters. (A physical address is superfluous because a potential client can call the firm and ask for the address.)
And please, no fancy script fonts or anything like that. No one can read that at 35 miles an hour. Stick with something sans serif or slab serif, which are easy to read quickly and at a distance. (This applies as well to signs in the city -- just make them easy for everyone to read.)