MSN has an in intersting article entitled, "For law firms, names are the brand." Highlights:
It's traumatic to lose a name partner.
A name change in the law firm business can cause confusion and hamper branding efforts. Clients will wonder what caused a founding partner to split, and some will travel to the new firm with the departing partner.
There's money in the brand and, in most cases, a law firm's name is its brand. As surely as the golden arches is money in the bank for McDonald's, a law firm's name - if it outlives a premature split - becomes a valuable commodity that shall not be tampered with.
Law firms are skinnying down their names. Instead of Alpha, Beta, Chi, Omega and Eplison, they're shortening them to "Alpha." See Law firms Gain Notice by Adopting Shorter Names for details.
Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan thus has become Smith Anderson. Think Parker Poe instead of Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein. Or Womble Carlyle as opposed to Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice. Manning, Fulton & Skinner's brand is simply Manning Fulton.