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The Top 25 Law Firm Website Clichés to Avoid.

(2016 Update. PART 2.)

Part 1 is available here.

11.  [The Image:] Scales of justice (Similar scales are also used by drug dealers)Free stock Pixaby Gavel Scales hammer-802296_960_720

[What it means:]  “Still just lawyers.”

12.  Dart boards (often showing three darts in the bullseye)

“We’re on target.”

(Or spent your youth in British pubs…?)

13.  Boxing gloves

“We’re actual trial lawyers, not paper-pushing discovery jockies.”

14.  Books (always with striped spines)

“This might be 2017, but we still use books.”

(The “Small-Firm Trifecta” is when there’s (1) a gavel resting on (2) the book, alongside (3) a scale.)

Free stock Pixaby BOOKS law-books-291676_960_720

15.  Computer (Tablets and smartphones also count)

“Look! We use computers!” 

(Check the monitor to see if it’s running Word Perfect.)

16.  Eyeglasses or pen on a document

“We work on paper documents.”
Pixaby free glasses-983947_960_720

17.  DNA strands (also test tube, beakers, gears, or CD)

“We have an intellectual property practice.”

18.  Man/Woman walking, in suits

“That’s our profession’s action shot.”

(We’re lawyers.  We walk.)

19.  Vacant lobby/Conference room

“We have beautiful furniture.”

(Actually, “It’s 5:01.  You could safely shoot a cannon down the main hallway.”)

Free Pixaby hotel-lobby-362568_960_720

20.  Blurry man running up steps

“We’re fast-paced, dynamic lawyers.”

(Actually, “Out of my way!  I’m late for court!”)

21.  Rowing

“We work as a team!”

(Violinists also work here.)

Free teamwork Pixaby rowing-671954_960_720

22.  Crayons/Flags/Circle of hands


(But since we don’t actually have any, here’s a photo of a bunch of colored pencils.)

23.  Grinning personal injury or divorce lawyer

“We’re lawyers.”Free Pixaby cheetah-1036449_960_720

(Actually, “Lost a limb?  Wife left you?  Glad I’m not you. Cheese!“)

24.  Cheetah 

“We move fast.  Look, here’s a fast thing.

25.  Maze

“We solve puzzles.”

(A Rubik’s Cube is popular too.)

The fact that you immediately recognized all or most of these, and perhaps laughed uncomfortably at a few of them, proves that these images have lost their impact.  So, if you’re using any of these in your marketing materials, from website or blog to print ads or brochures, stop immediately.

Perhaps you could change your tag line to “Average skills. Average price.TM  Or, preferably, come up with something that really sets you apart.  Create something else, something great.  Something that helps you stand out in a way that generates real revenue. If you can’t do it, hire someone who can.  But it must be done, it’s important.

Figure out who you really are, then build your marketing around that. 


“Smiling Lawyers” update:

The City Skyline cliche that nearly half of law firm websites showed on their home pages is gradually fading, in favor of the new overused meme — Smiling Lawyers. (See “The ‘Smiling Lawyers’ Website Home Page Trap.”) at

This isn’t to say that photos of your lawyers can’t be used effectively to illustrate a distinct message (see e.g. Hedrick Gardner or The Howard Law Group where the photos are used strategically to convey the firm’s toughness and trial skills). Rather, if you’re simply rotating photos of cheery lawyers who work at your firm (i.e. photo of Sally Smith next to the name of her practice group and office), then you’re not really saying anything at all.  It’s easy, it’s lazy, and suggests that someone in the process, either the marketing committee, branding firm, and/or web developer is simply phoning it in.

You can do better.  We must do better. 

Here’s a one-pager you may circulate around your marketing committee:



June 8, 2011 update:

This irreverent post got a lot of traffic, mentions, retweets, and forwards.My favorite mention, not surprisingly, comes from Non-Sequiters, in Above the Law: 
“Here are 25 legal marketing cliches to avoid… or only use ironically, amiright?”