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Lawyers Try New Approach to Announce Their New Firm

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
May 23, 1988

Amicus curious

If you want to wake up the divorce bar, try sending out an announcement with a dignified photograph.

When Rosaire M. Nottage and Eunice Ward sent out an announcement of the creation of their new family law firm, Nottage & Ward, and included a studio shot of themselves on natural tracing paper, they were not prepared for the response. In the few weeks since the distinctive mailing went out to approximately 700 lawyers and clients, the calls and letters have been pouring in.

Among the more unique responses was a note with a firm photo from Davis, Friedman, Zavett, Kane & MacRae. Another practitioner apologized for not having a picture to send.

Senior U.S. District Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovits wrote: "Saw your pretty faces on your announcement of your new partnership and hasten to tell you if I ever marry and it doesn’t work out you’ll have my divorce business."

And then there were the kudos from large firms. Brian D. Roche of Sachnoff, Weaver & Rubenstein called the announcement "truly a departure from the standard black on beige." Two letters came from Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck. First Joseph N. DuCanto wrote that the announcement was "outstanding and shows a lot of creative flair."

That was followed by a letter from David H. Hopkins who said, "You and Rosaire look mighty classy – almost too classy for some of the trench warfare in which those of us in the matrimonial area must engage on occasion."

The new partners are delighted by the response. "I think the most surprising ones were from the larger, more traditional firms," noted Ward, a 41-year-old IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law graduate. "Traditionally, people just send out the plain announcement," added Nottage, a 39-year-old graduate of Loyola University School of Law, "and yet we wanted to be kind of innovative too." Ward finished her thought by adding, "acceptable but innovative." The two new partners, who were "fixed up" at a Women's Bar Association of Illinois event and tend to speak as one, often warmly interrupting each other and finishing each other's sentences, were also cognizant of the effect of public relations on their field.

"PR is so important to us because clients are getting into the consumer mode and they have a right to," said Nottage, who gave up her partner- ship at Bell, Boyd & Lloyd to start her own firm. "The average Joe [doesn't] even know how to find a lawyer. … Our whole society has gotten more consumer-oriented so we wanted to respond to that in a classy way and yet be professional."

They did not, Nottage stressed, want to offend either. "People that want some confidentiality and dignity in their divorce [do not] want to see a flashy picture with dancing girls or whatever," she noted. Nor did they "want to snub our noses at the legal community," said Ward, who had a partnership prior to her current one.

"When we came together we had very specific ideas about marketing our practice and not just hanging out the shingle," Ward explained. "We got together to do a divorce firm not only because we like doing divorce but because we think in Cook County, particularly, there are some niches that need to be filled in representing families in divorce. … So one of the things we sought to do was to send out announcements that wouldn't be thrown in the garbage."

Indeed it hasn't judging from the testimonials. But Nottage & Ward's announcement has encountered one obstacle. They have been told by some lawyers, "Oh it's so L.A. Law." Ward noted, "L.A. Law was the farthest thing from our minds."

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