Law Firm Name Changes

What to do when a law firm changes its name

I have worked on a lot of law firm name changes. 

Most attorneys don’t know what to do when a law firm changes its name. While initially it may seem like a fairly straight forward process to update the legal stuff, change your website and you are good to go, that is just the start. 

In fact, if you mess up a name change it could have serious consequences on your firm’s business. Search engines like Google require firms to keep their name, address and phone number accurate across the internet. It helps them determine if a business is legitimate.

When the law firm’s name on their website does not match the name on major directories such as Apple Maps or Bing, Google might drop the firm’s ranking in their results or suspend the listing.

Below I will show you step by step how to change a law firm name the right way.

Motivation behind changing a law firm name

Law firm name changes happen all the time for a variety of reasons.

  • Partner leaves
  • Partner retires
  • Partner passes away
  • New attorney joins firm
  • Two law firms merge
  • Marketing reasons
  • Shorter name desired

Most states allow law firms to use trade names, however some may still require a firm to take the name of partners. When the opportunity to introduce a new brand name that better represents the business comes along, many firms will take it.

With some law firms, the name changes on a regular basis as partners come and go.  For one firm, I had to change the firm’s address 3 times in 2 years! This can make it challenging to complete all the updates needed.

Sometimes the firm name is updated due to a change in the business formation. One attorney I worked with was a sole practitioner who decided to join another firm but wanted to retain her own clients. So she changed her firm name to her name and “Attorney at Law”.

Another firm I worked with changed their organizational structure from an LLC to PLLC which adds protection to licensed professionals from personal liability due to malpractice of others.

Should you leave attorney name if they are no longer with the firm

When a former partner is retired or deceased, a law firm may consider updating the firm’s name. In some cases the attorney who is no longer practicing may have had a strong reputation that helps to attract clients. 

This is the case for one of my clients who is a single lawyer firm but kept the name of his partner who passed away many years ago. 

While this may cause some confusion it can help a firm to retain value. 

Changing a law firm name to a practice area

Many firms choose to change their name to a trade name that helps to identify them for a single practice area such as “Long Island divorce lawyers”. Oftentimes a law firm name change like this will give them a boost in Google’s rankings. This is because Google uses keywords within the name as a ranking factor. 

However it is not always the best choice to change a name like this. Some locations are so competitive that this type of name change will have little impact. Plus Google will likely phase out or lower the effect of the firm name. 

Advantage of a branded name (using attorney last name)

Firms who do use the attorney’s last name for the firm name have some advantages too. Most searches for a law firm are done for a specific attorney name. This is likely a lead from a referral or prior client. That search typically results in an immediate recognition of the attorney and a feeling that they are in the right spot.

A firm may also have a long history and solid reputation. Using a branded name vs a trade name can show potential clients they are dealing with an experienced firm.

Official steps to updating a law firm’s name

The focus of this article is on the marketing aspects of a law firm name change. But you want to make sure you get all the official steps out of the way too.

Check USPTO to make sure name is not registered – Always check the USPTO database to make sure the name you would like to use for your law firm is not already taken. This won’t be an issue for most firms but if you are thinking of something generic such as “Transaction Law”, or “New York Divorce Lawyer” you may have an issue.

Secretary of state – Prepare a simple article of amendment document and submit this to the state you are currently incorporated to officially change your business name.

Update licensing – You will want to update any business licenses including all bar associations that your or anyone in your firm belongs to.

IRS & EIN – Notify the IRS to let them know of the name change for tax filing purposes and to see if you need a new EIN.

Update Utilities, insurance, bank accounts, mortgage or lease, financial institution – Check all of the bills and statements you receive and contact each organization to let them know of the law firm name change. Sometimes you can log into an account and do this online.

Domain name – In some cases you may want to update the domain name of your website. This is not a decision to take lightly as it could cause havoc with leads you are currently getting if the change is not handled properly.

One client I work with has “workers compensation” in the law firm’s website URL. He wanted to add bankruptcy as a practice area so the current domain name doesn’t really make sense.

However if the law firm is just making a minor name change, you are best to leave the domain name alone.

Access to firm security (passwords) – When a law firm is changing names because an attorney is leaving the practice, make sure that you change any passwords that person was using. Also, if the departing attorney was in charge of marketing or other areas where private passwords were used, be sure to collect those so you have access to important business assets.

Communicating the law firm name change to stakeholders

Once you have settled on a new name for your law firm and taken official action to make the change, it’s time to get the word out.

Send a notice to all of your clients, partners, staff, vendors and the legal community announcing the new name. 

A lot of business comes from referrals or repeat clients so you certainly do not want to cause any confusion when they visit your office or website and see a different law firm name.

Updating brand assets and collateral

Think about every place you are currently using the firm’s name. It may be included on a logo, stationery, business cards and email signatures. You may need to hire a designer or print shop to update any assets that have your old brand name.

 Remember to update any signage inside or outside of your office. Google often requires visual proof that your office is doing business where you say it is. When the law firm’s name does not match the sign on your door, it may cause your Google Business Profile to get suspended.

Update a law firm’s website with a new name

Another important place you will want to update a law firm name is on the website. There are many areas that may need to be updated.

Logo & Favicon – Law firms often include their name as part of the logo. If you know the graphic designer who created the logo this may be a simple change. However if it has been a while since your logo was created, a new one may need to be designed. 

Content –  If your website was built on an updated platform such as WordPress there should be a simple find and replace function to change the name on all pages. Otherwise someone will need to manually update every page.

Changing a Law Firm Name In Website Content

Sometimes blog posts or other content are visible on your website but stored in a separate database. So you will want to make sure these are updated too.

Footer & Sidebar – Usually a law firm’s name is included in the footer or sidebar along with the address. This should be an easy change to make in one place that updates all pages. 

Photos – Check if any of your photos need to be updated. Are you changing the law firm name because someone left the firm? Is a picture of a sign in your lobby on the website?

* Learn how to get an image next to a search result in Google

Title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, schema – Whoever is handling your digital marketing will likely need to update all of the tags, descriptions and markup code that can impact how your website ranks in the search engines. Many law firms use branded terms in their tags that show the firm’s name in search results. 

Updating a URL – As noted earlier you might want to consider updating the website’s domain name. Sometimes it is necessary. But if possible, it is best to avoid a major change like this. If you do decide to update the URL, be sure to use redirects to point the old page names to the new pages names or you will likely lose out on a lot of visitors to your website.

Update social media profiles (be careful about URL changes)

After you update the website with your new law firm name, it’s time to update any social media pages. Even if you don’t have dedicated profiles for the firm, there may be profiles for individual attorneys that mention the old firm name.

You want to update those.






One of the things you will want to be careful about is changing the page name (the URL) of your Facebook and other profiles. Facebook in particular does not redirect your old URL to the new name. So if you do this, anywhere you link your Facebook page from will need to be updated too.

Error Message from Facebook When URL Not Redirected

Updating a law firm name change across the internet

This is where most law firms don’t get it right.

You’ve completed the name change, updated some of the basics but now comes the hard part. Updating the firm’s listings across the internet with the new name. 

This is a time consuming and laborious process. But it is critical to make sure the firm’s name is consistent everywhere. It will not only make Google happy, but you also don’t want potential clients clicking on a link and seeing outdated information.

The process will require that you update every directory and citation possible with the updated information. This includes:

  • Firm name
  • Logo
  • Descriptions
  • Any other information

To get started you will want to log into your account on all of the top directories to make these updates. 

Google Business Profile

For most firms, the majority of new business will be coming from the Google Business Profile (GBP). This is what potential clients will see when searching for a local attorney near them. You should be able to log into this and easily make the updates. If you no longer have the access information, you can still request access and get it in a few days. 


Profiles on Bing Places are also fairly easy to update. I typically wait until the GBP is updated and use the sync feature to pull the data from Google into Bing. 

If your firm recently moved, you will want to read my article on Updating a business address on Bing.

Apple Connect

Listings on Apple will show up when someone uses an iphone so it is really pretty important. Unfortunately updating an Apple listing is not always simple. This may require a verification call if you don’t have the password used to set up the account.


The Yelp directory makes things very complicated. Their mission is to sell advertising any way they can. But it is important to get Yelp updated because Apple and other directories use their data. If you don’t have access to a claimed listing, you can always “suggest an edit” which can take a lot longer to update.

Legal Directories (, Avvo, Martindale, Findlaw, Justia,

Many law firms have listings in several of the large legal directories. Believe it or not, many of these do produce client leads. So it is very important to make sure your firm listings have the right information. You may need to contact customer support if your information is out of date.

General Directories (Chamber of Commerce, Superpages, BBB)

There is no end to the number of general directories a law firm may be listed on. You will need to log into each one of these to make the changes. Without access you may need to claim the listing or contact their support to help get access. Some directories have a “suggest an edit” feature. 

Update Law Firm Name In General Directories


Some services act as aggregators where they pass your data along to dozens of other websites. Services such as Data Axle, Yext and Chatmeter often require a subscription where you pay a monthly fee to have your data pushed to other sites. Updates for subscribers are easy. But if you don’t pay they will do nothing (and good luck getting your new law firm updated on one of their partner sites). 

It can often be difficult to find how to edit a law firm name or other information in a directory. An experienced digital marketer who has completed lots of law firm name changes should be able to figure out how to update most citations across the internet. 

Difficult To Find Where To Edit A Directory Listing

While it may not be important to update every single mention of your law firm’s name, it is critical to make sure that Google has acknowledged the update.

Does Google recognize the law firm name change?

Once you have completed all of your updates, it may take a few days for Google to recognize the change and then reflect the new law firm name in their search results.

If after a few days you don’t see the name updated when you complete a search, Google may not be convinced that the name change is accurate. Google tends to rely on certain citations for validation of changes. 

As noted early, one law firm I worked with changed their name from an LLC to PLLC. This should be a simple update, but Google failed to update the name of the site title in their results. After doing some digging, I found that the firm had multiple Bing listings and one of them had the old firm name. Fixing this resolved the issue.

Cross checking your law firm name change everywhere

After spending hours and hours updating every place you can find with the new law firm name, you may think your job is done.

But there is one more thing you will want to do to make sure that you didn’t miss anything.

Go to Google and enter your firm’s old name in quotes like this “Old Law Firm Name”. This will now give you the results of any websites that may still be showing the old name. In some cases you may have completed the update and Google is just not reflecting that in their results yet.

Other times you may find yet another site that needs to be updated. 

It’s a good idea to repeat this search for other parameters too such as the firm’s phone number or each attorney that works there. These may reveal different results.

This may seem like a daunting task but it will be well worth it. While you are not likely to update every source with the new law firm name, getting those big directories and many of the niche sites to show the correct information will help Google and other search engines properly adopt the new name. 

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