Scales of Justice: Avoiding a Cliché Law Firm Logo

After visiting enough law firm websites or getting enough business cards from other attorneys, you tend to notice the patterns. Everyone seems to have nearly the same logo, featuring either the Scales of Justice or, occasionally, a gavel.

Why is this cliché the norm? Mainly, it’s recognizable. This is not a bad thing. The scales of justice are like the law equivalent of what the red cross symbol is to first aid. Say you’re at a cocktail party and you give out your card to another guest. The other guest notices the Scales of Justice on the card and will recognize almost immediately that you are a lawyer.

Law Firm logos usually incorporate a gavel or scales of justice. It is cliche but common.

The Scales of Justice are symbolic. They suggest to the viewer that this attorney believes in justice and the U.S. legal system. The imagery evokes an aura of integrity, suggesting that the attorney will act within the bounds of the justice system and fight for the client’s interests.

But, the Scales of Justice are a tad plain on their own.

The scale of justice in black and white is plain and overdone for law firm website logos

I find though that a plain Scales of Justice logo on a website or business card without any flair or style tailored to the law firm’s design and color scheme is an eyesore. It’s so ubiquitous. Any client searching for a lawyer, going from website to website seeing the same logo over and over again is not going to view favorably a law firm website that seems to be another cookie-cutter law firm.

With a plain Scales of Justice image, your website just becomes another “pass” in the client’s mind when the client is perusing through a dozen law firm websites before selecting a lawyer.

There can be a balance with the Scales of Justice, though (pardon the pun). You can effectively integrate a Scales of Justice within your law firm’s logo while still being original and unique in your law firm logo.

While most law firm logos designed by professionals will undoubtedly be created in Photoshop (and I will go through this step-by-step in Photoshop), in case you run your own law firm and want to do it yourself and do not have access to Photoshop, I am going to show you how to make these edits in Office as well.

Here is a brief step-by-step guide to giving your Scales of Justice some flair:

Step 1: Match Your Color Scheme

Your website and law firm name should utilize a particular color scheme. Make sure that your logo follows that color scheme. Black and white is a no-no. What about gold? Gold is a common color for the scale image, so it should be permissible, right? No, unless your law firm’s color scheme involves gold.

Otherwise, you have a generic logo with a generic color, making it look like you did a Google search for “law firm scale,” copied an image, and made that your logo. It’s not original and makes your site forgettable.

Tons of scales of justice images result when searching for a law firm logo in Google and other search engines

Step 2: Add Textures, Gradients, and Shadows to Create Depth

How can we make your law firm logo look like a 3D image rather than some Microsoft Office Clip Art? A few tips.

You can make your image seem multi-dimensional almost immediately by adding a drop shadow to it.

In Photoshop, drop shadows are standard. Just go to blending tools and add a drop shadow. Done.

Doing it in Microsoft office is almost effortless. Insert your image. Go to the pictures tab. Add a drop shadow.

Add a drop shadow to a logo in Microsoft Word to create a 3D effect

Other suggestions: use a glass / reflection effect, giving your logo an Apple aesthetic.

Here is a Photoshop tutorial to achieving that reflection effect on your logo

Step 3: Personalize It – Bring in Your Firm Name

Law firm logo including scales of justice and name of the firm

So now you have a tweaked Scales of Justice. It is now slightly different than any other law firm’s logo out there. But, there’s still more you can do.

To turn your image into a completely personalized logo, add your firm name (in color) in a font you choose to represent your firm. You may choose to use your firm name completely or an abbreviation.

You will want something professional, but not tried. Do not use any of these overused law style fonts: Cambria, Georgia, Times New Roman, Tahoma. They’ve all been done.

Last but not least, add depth to the text. Make the text multi-dimensional. Let the text interact with the scales image.

And there you have it, a logo for your law firm that tells the world you’re a lawyer, conveys professionalism, and creates a unique brand for your law firm.