I have an impulse to be puzzled about the addition of Kathleen Sullivan's name to logo at Quinn Emanuel, which now beomes Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. I mean--I don' t begrudge any eminence to the distinguished former Stanford Dean but I thought the natural progress of maturity was to shorten, not lengthen, firm names? More precisely, isn't a long firm name the sign of an unstable partnership, more of an office sharing?
I suppose the general pattern occurs as the partners die off and the firm name morphs into a corporate logo. My friend Margaret points out that Atlanta now his Alston & Bird (A&B) and Bryan Cave (BC)--one can only await the merger of Yaroslavl & Zillow. Ethical rules prohibit the abandonment ofhuman names altogether, but go to the website of Morrison Foerster and you'd never guess that its name wasn't simply MoFo (at the website, you can even create a MoFolder). I have long thought of O'Melveny & Myers as OMM, but a look at their website informs me that they are striving for just the big O. I guess there are exceptions: the firm everyone knows as Skadden remains stubbornly "Skadden Arps Slate Meager & Flom" (Skadden stubborn? Oh bite your tongue).
In the popular mind, of course it can go another way: Weil, Gotschal & Manges has long been known in the trade as We'll Getcha & Manglya (pardon, I see from the web page that it is just Weil Gotschal, so the old joke doesn't work any more).
Margaret points out that there is another reason why old names drop off: old egos die. But the egos at Quinn Emanuel are still very much alive, so why add a name? The obvious answer: they figure the name adds money and power. They may well be right: Nate Raymond at the New York Law Journal is already touting the fact that she first woman on the marquee of a top 100 law firm (can that really be true?--guess so).
On the marquee, but still in the back of the bus. There is one other possibility. If you are a former vice-president (Richard M. Nixon) or a former candidate for president (Thomas E. Dewey) they put you out in front (Nixon Mudge, etc.; Dewey Ballantine, etc.). And then the firm name just gets shortened around you.