One of the challenges with designing websites for law firms is respecting the relatively conservative expectations of the profession and prospective clients while designing something eye catching. It is a delicate balance and many firms lean heavily towards the “play it safe” aesthetic. Then there is the large US firm Morrison Foerster, aka MoFo.
Let’s begin with the abbreviated name itself. You have to respect a firm with over 1000 lawyers in 15 offices that has shortened its brand name to a term who’s common usage can’t even be repeated in this space (Urban Dictionary may help if you aren’t familiar with the term).
Morrison is Foerster is taking it back! Unfortunately, from an SEO perspective (in Canada), they haven’t quite taken it back well enough. They are sitting at # 3 in my Google results.
The first two spots refer to the above slang. The fourth is pornographic. Not exactly great company. Then again, taking a term back has never been easy. Just ask the African American community or the Gay community. Taking the plunge into this brand identity would have required a considerable leap of faith on behalf of senior partnership. It may not be surprising coming from the firm that recently moved its library into the marketing department.
MoFo didn’t just stop at the brand identity. Their website is a polarizing (pun intended) black and white, driven by large, abstract keywords. Internal navigation within the site inverts between black and white backgrounds. The site offers minimal text in a Google-esque nod to simplicity. Similarly, there is minimal use of images anywhere on the site. The only images I found were head shots on the lawyer profiles.
Would a Canadian firm ever dare to take this kind of risk? We certainly haven’t seen anything similar. Then again, Canadian lawyers tend to take pride in lacking the flamboyance of their US counterparts. As the legal market for large firms grows increasingly intense and with international firms entering the fray, we may see a firm ready to take the plunge.
Kudos to MoFo for taking this risk. I think they succeeded.