Lawyer Names

Want your child to grow up to be an attorney?  Name him John…..or maybe Elizabeth, says guest blogger Conrad Saam, who’s done a groundbreaking new study on lawyer’s names over the past 200 years.

If you have aspirations that your kiddo will someday grow up and earn his Juris Doctorate, the time to start planning may be now – with the right name. Through nameberry, you now have access to the most comprehensive analysis on lawyer names ever completed.

I run marketing for an online legal directory called Avvo where we help people make an informed decision when hiring an attorney by rating and profiling over 90% of the lawyers in the country. As such, I have access to the most comprehensive data on lawyer first names ever assembled – data culled from state bar records from across the country and reaching back as far as 1808. That’s about 1.5 million lawyers overall.

I grouped the names for each decade going back through the 1950’s. Because our data gets more sparse with age, I built two more groups, one from the first half of last century and one for the 1800’s. I then compiled lists of the top 20 names for each time period. The date associated with each name is when the attorney was accepted by the state bar – which in general is about 25 years after the baby-cum-lawyer was named (so you need to really be thinking ahead).

Obviously, these lists correlate with popularity of names over time, but the actual results are amazingly consistent and defy many overall name trends. Eight of the top twenty names show up in all the groups: every decade starting in the 1950s, the 1901-1950 group and even the Top 20 list from the 1800s. These are, in order of overall frequency:

1. JOHN
2. ROBERT
3. JAMES
4. DAVID
5. WILLIAM
6. RICHARD
7. THOMAS
8. JOSEPH

Of this list, John is the persistent leader, showing up in the Top 5 of every list going back through the 1800’s. The top names for the past decade are:

2001-2010

1. MICHAEL
2. DAVID
3. JOHN
4. JENNIFER
5. MATTHEW
6. CHRISTOPHER
7. JAMES
8. ROBERT
9. DANIEL
10. BRIAN
11. JASON
12. WILLIAM
13. ANDREW
14. JOSEPH
15. ELIZABETH
16. THOMAS
17. JEFFREY
18. MARK
19. SARAH
20. RICHARD

Before the 1980s, all the Top 20 names were male, as in this list from the 1970s, which represents the first generation of Baby Boom lawyers.

1971-1980

1. JOHN
2. ROBERT
3. JAMES
4. WILLIAM
5. MICHAEL
6. RICHARD
7. DAVID
8. THOMAS
9. CHARLES
10. JOSEPH
11. STEPHEN
12. STEVEN
13. PAUL
14. MARK
15. EDWARD
16. DONALD
17. GEORGE
18. PETER
19. GARY
20. RONALD

The 1950s list, whose members were named mostly in the mid-1920s through the 1930s, is even more sedate.

1951-1960

1. JOHN
2. ROBERT
3. WILLIAM
4. JAMES
5. RICHARD
6. CHARLES
7. JOSEPH
8. THOMAS
9. GEORGE
10. DONALD
11. EDWARD
12. DAVID
13. PAUL
14. FRANK
15. ARTHUR
16. JACK
17. HAROLD
18. WALTER
19. HARRY
20. HERBERT

The first time a female name shows up in the Top 20 was in the 1980s when Susan (15), Mary (16) and Patricia (20) broke through. Even in the past decade, when a much higher percentage of attorneys were women, there were only three female names, Jennifer (4), Elizabeth (15) and Sarah (19), in the Top 20. This may be explained by greater concentration of a few names among males than females. The top 20 female names for lawyers in the past decade are:

1. JENNIFER
2. ELIZABETH
3. SARAH
4. AMY
5. JESSICA
6. LISA
7. MELISSA
8. LAURA
9. MICHELLE
10. MARY
11. HEATHER
12. REBECCA
13. STEPHANIE
14. SUSAN
15. KATHERINE
16. KIMBERLY
17. NICOLE
18. ERIN
19. KELLY (this includes both genders)
20. AMANDA

Conrad Saam runs marketing for Avvo, where he oversees Online Marketing, PR and Search Engine Optimization. Avvo has grown from concept to the world’s most popular legal directory and free legal Q&A forum in three years. He is a native of Australia, father to Lars and Scarlett, husband and son to Jennifers (paging Dr. Freud) and has until July to settle on another distinctive-but-not-strange-masculine boy name for baby #3. He writes on www.Avvoblog.com and tweets @conradsaam.

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15 Responses to “Lawyer Names”

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Allie Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 2:10 am

I feel like this study would be more significant if the researcher had controlled for general name popularity.

UrbanAngel Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 7:18 am

I think it’s funny how often Richard is mentioned & how some of the nicknames for Richard are Rich,Rickie & Dick….. those nicknames seem to fit into lawyer stereotypes & jokes

Overall, the names just seem very normal to me.Very much just different names that were popular at different times.

Plus, it seems like the law profession is sort of stereotyped as one of the more stodgy or stereotypically ‘conservative’ professions — I’m not saying it is, just the stereotype, and those names definitely fit into the conservative banner

Overall, it’s a good thing I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore & it’s not a career I’d push for my kid to go into, so I don’t have to worry about the names I like

I wonder in 20 years time, how many lawyers named Sophia,Ava, Olivia,Aidan & Jacob there will be.

To the blogger – I like your kids’ names & thank you for a very interesting read ! It was a nice, unexpected pleasure today 🙂

JD Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 8:35 am

Marketing synergies always give me a thrill. In fact, I think I’m going to name my next child Avvo.

Sachiko Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 9:53 am

I am enjoying the thought of lawyers named Kaylee and Ryder. I guess there’s always the reducing-a-fun-first-name-to-its-initial tactic.

My dad’s a lawyer, so I’ve known a lot of ’em in my time. I would be interested in studies about the impact of lawyer’s surnames and their effect on image.

For instance, will it become increasingly important that last names reflect a broader ethnic heritage? That would be a good balance for the overwhelmingly standard first names listed here in your blog. “Attorney John Smith” says to me “I’m operating under an alias because I’ve been unethical and the bar put me in time-out.”. Or, do people desire a more WASPy surname in an lawyer?

My favorite lawyer-name anecdote: A couple from the South were both lawyers and wanted to name their first child something absolutely not-Southern, and absolutely normal, conservative name: William James Roberts. But all is for naught when a down-home uncle sees the baby, hears the name, and says, “Oh! Billy Jim Bob!”

Lars and Scarlett–nice choices. Thanks for your blog.

-sarah- Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

My husband (David) and I (Sarah), are both lawyers. I just hope our young daughter (Laura) does not want to be one when she grows up!

In general, I think the conservative/traditional names are indictors of conservative/traditional parents, who will be more likely to encourage their child to pursue a conservative career route such as law (unless the parents are already lawyers, in which case they will do everything possible to dissaude their children from making the same mistake. Come to think of it, maybe we should have named our daughter Roxy . . .)

Kathleen Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

very interesting!

Lawyer Names – Avvo Blog Says:

May 11th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

[…] exhaustive analysis of lawyer first names going back to 1808 across all 50 states on Nameberry, the best baby name website.  Nameberry is the online accompaniment to the books (try Beyond Ava and Aiden) from naming […]

Emz Says:

May 12th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I’ll make sure I steer clear of John and Elizabeth then…

Lars and Scarlett are nice together. An interesting article, too.

Most Popular Lawyer First Names « Trickum Legis Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

[…] emails in a windowless room on the 22nd floor of a New York office building,  Avvo, has unveiled a new study on lawyer’s names over the past 200 […]

GG Says:

October 7th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

It seems like these names would also be represented in any learned profession, meaning that the factors that prevent (or allow) education would apply across the board.

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September 12th, 2012 at 1:04 am

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