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TCL > April 2003 Issue > What’s in a Name?

April 2003       Vol. 32, No. 4       Page  27
CBA President's Message to Members

What’s in a Name?
by John E. Moye






John E. Moye

One day last month, I had telephone messages on my desk from Tucker Trautman and Wendy Fisher, lawyers in Denver with whom I have been working on projects. The juxtaposition of the messages caused me to be amused at the thought of their joining together in a firm called "Trautman and Fisher" and being engaged as counsel to the aquarium.

Naming the Law Firm

Selection of the names to be used in a law firm is not a haphazard exercise. When I formed a partnership in 1976 with John Head, Craig Carver, and Pamela Ray, we hired a consultant to help us order the names in the firm. We were told that putting the name "Head" after any other name could cause confusion (for example, Ray Head or Moye Head), and the name "Head" really should be at the "head" of the firm name. So we started with "Head." The second name had to be something that would not be descriptive, so "Head Carver" was out. "Head Moye" was acceptable. Because three of the names had only one syllable, the third name should be the dual-syllabic "Carver." Thus, the firm was named "Head, Moye, Carver & Ray." We were satisfied that the consultant had given us good advice for the $750 we paid (and in 1976 dollars, that was expensive advice).

The order and number of names in a law firm often depends on factors such as business generation, professional esteem, age, and longevity of the firm members. Sometimes, these factors ignore the realities of pronunciation or the receptionist’s stamina. Our firm name now— "Moye, Giles, O’Keefe, Vermeire & Gorrell"—certainly is a contender for that observation. The public simply ignores the full firm name and shortens the name to whatever most easily is remembered. We have become "Moye Giles" to most people who refer to us.

Even easily pronounced names that are third and farther in the entire firm name are often dropped. Sherman and Howard were long overlooked when the firm was referred to as "Dawson Nagle"—only to later win out by shortening the name from the front. A firm with a nice easy name like Holme Roberts and Owen markets itself only by its initials "HRO." Go figure. They must have hired the same consultant we did.

Names That Could Have Been

Several years ago, Bob Kapelke and Bill Denious jokingly hypothesized law firm names that used the names of lawyers practicing in Colorado, but humorously described the firm’s practice or reputation. Poring over the lawyer’s directories in Colorado, they produced several clever combinations of lawyers’ names that would be easily memorable if they formed a firm. Their clever appellations made their way to several other lawyers, and many additional combinations were found and contributed. Reacting to the revelation of "Trautman & Fisher" from my telephone messages, I thought it would be fun to report some of them in a President’s Message that is published near April Fools’ Day.1

On National Public Radio, the Magliozzi Brothers (also known as "The Car Guys") give credit every week to the firm of "Dewey, Cheetham & Howe," which causes me to wince at the potentially negative message that sends about lawyers.2 In Colorado, they could use "Wise, Smart, Good, Fair, Fine, Abel & Jost."3 Or, for a truly reputable firm, "Good, Hart and Bonafede."4

Farming law specialists include the firms of "Straw, Hayes and Oates"5 and "Old, Gray, Maer & Bull."6 For international law expertise, clients could migrate to "Ireland, Brittan, Holland and French."7

Lawyers who particularly focus on serious gastronomical legal issues could be located at "Munch, Rice, Goebel, Brauchli and Dye."8 As medical legal practice becomes as specialized as medical practice itself, a prominent firm could be "Barry, Barry, Kidneigh, Stone and Sickler."9

Alternating among the seasons, the firms of "Summers and Springer"10 and "Raine, Hale, Snow & Freese"11 would thrive. Because of Halloween, October would be a particularly good month for "Bougie, Mann, Goebel and Gould."12

"Trout, Herring and Fisher"13 could offer advice on any legal issues relating to lakes and streams. Land use could be handled by "Over, Hill & Dale."14 Animal rights would be upheld by "Wolfe, Fox, Boer, Lyons and Lamm"15 and, for animals that fly, there would be "Robbins, Crow, Falcone & Siegel."16

Horticultural specialists would practice at "Rose, Busch and Thorne."17 Several years ago there was a law firm in Denver called "Greengard & Senter,"18 which had horticultural overtones to its name if you said the name quickly.

For advice concerning your residence and personal safety, clients would be most comfortable with "Holme, Sweet & Holmes."19 Security issues would be handled by "Key, Locke, Safer & Dorr."20

The best arson defense team would be practicing at "Firestone, Flint, Candelaria & Birney."21 The Archdiocese would want to be represented by "Pope, Bishop and Priester."22 Of course, estate planning would be a specialty of "Croker, Quiat, Lee & Dye"23 and "Good, Bye, Fair, Wells & Dunn"24

The latter firm would probably just be known as: "Good Bye."


1. To be sure that the firm names still represent Colorado lawyers, each footnote identifies potential members of these hypothetical firms who practice in Colorado, but none of these lawyers has indicated any interest in forming or practicing in the firms suggested.

2. There really is an office of Dewey, Cheetham & Howe, but it is not a law firm. It is the firm that produces the Car Talk Program on National Public Radio and a newspaper column about the program. See, Car Talk, Frequently Asked Questions #13 and #14. When the credits for the program are given, however, they refer to their lawyer, Hugh Lewis Dewey at Dewey, Cheetham & Howe.

3. Hugh Wise, Aspen; Thomas Smart, Denver; Katherine Good, Gaithersburg; Arthur Fine, Denver; Wanda Abel, Denver; and Richard Jost, Lakewood.

4. Robert G. Good, Denver; several lawyers are named Hart; Michael Bonafede, Loveland.

5. George M. Straw, Denver; lots of lawyers are named Hayes; and Leonard Medley Oates, Aspen.

6. Edward Earl Olde, Littleton; William Gray, Boulder; Claude Maer, Denver; and James C. Bull, Denver.

7. Michael Ireland, Aspen; William C. Brittan, Denver; Mark Holland, Boulder; and Robert French, Breckenridge.

8. Christopher Munch, Denver; Gudrun Rice, Grand Junction; Robert Goebel, Denver; Christopher Brauchli, Boulder; and Steven Dye, Longmont.

9. Several lawyers are named Barry; Jon Kidneigh, Denver; Helen Stone, Boulder; and Magistrate Royce Sickler.

10. Kenneth K. Summers, Grand Junction; and Jeffrey Springer, Denver.

11. Stanley Raine, Denver; Margaret Hale, Frankfurt; Brian Snow, Fort Collins; and Richard Freese, Denver.

12. Laurent A. Bougie, Denver; Cassandra Mann, Williamsville; Robert M. Goebel, Denver; and Linda F. Gould, Colorado Springs.

13. Robert Trout, Denver; Woodson Herring, Englewood; and Amy Fisher, Durango.

14. Eugene A. Over, Englewood; Robert F. Hill, Denver; and Gillian Dale, Denver.

15. Several lawyers are named Wolf and Wolfe; lots of lawyers are named Fox; Cindy Boer, Denver; Jim Lyons, Denver; and Tom Lamm, Boulder.

16. David Robbins, Denver; Nancy Crow, Denver; Richard F. Falcone, Colorado Springs; and Kenneth Siegel, Denver.

17. Richard Rose, Denver; Robert Busch, Golden; and Christopher Thorne, Denver.

18. This once was a real law firm in Denver, with Richard Greengard and William Senter.

19. Richard P. Holme, Denver; Charles V. Sweet, Boulder; Hardin Holmes, Denver.

20. Donna Key, Denver; Teresa D. Locke, Denver; Elissa J. Safer, Denver; and Robert C. Dorr, Denver.

21. Judith M. Firestone, Denver; Sara Elizabeth Flint, Colorado Springs; James Candelaria, Denver; and Tom Birney, Denver.

22. Wallace F. Pope, Clearwater; Anne Riley Bishop, Vail; John M. Priester, currently inactive.

23. C. Joseph Croker, Grand Junction; Marshall Quiat, Denver; several lawyers are named Lee; and Peter Dye, Denver.

24. Timothy Good, Denver; James Bye, Denver; Felicia Fair, Colorado Springs; lots of lawyers are named Wells and Dunn (among whom is one our esteemed former Bar presidents, John Dunn of Avon).

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