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Creative Brief

Who are you?

We are the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota (ACTLM).

What do you need?

We wish to update/create our logo, and possibly order stationery.
More to the point, we need a logo that reflects our unique nature. We are a group of civil (lawsuit disputes typically involving claimants seeking a money recovery) and criminal case trial lawyers practicing in Minnesota courtrooms. In addition, we have undergone a rigorous review and testing process resulting in certification by the National Board of Trial Advocacy or state bar specialty certification organizations objectively proving our expertise in the practice of trial law. Application for certification requires minimum experience thresholds in terms of jury trial and pretrial motion and discovery efforts. Relatively few lawyers practicing have obtained board certification. We want to use our organization and brand to help us stand apart from non-certified lawyers.
The practice of trial law in courtrooms before judges and juries is an exceedingly specialized vocation. This is all that we do. We have taken more than the usual training in the rules of procedure that govern how the trial proceeds, in the rules of evidence that govern whether our clients stories fully can be told, and in the art of stagecraft because in many ways a courtroom is a stage. In addition, our members are surveyed annually for compliance with required continuing education coursework in the field of trial law, for status of ethical or professional disciplinary complaints, and for the maintenance of malpractice insurance.
You might know lawyers in a general practice, who do some trial work, but otherwise do wills, corporate transactions, real estate planning or even patent or trademark law. It is the rare lawyer who can handle such things and yet perform equally to one of our members in a trial. Most of the litigators you know have not sought certified status, but again, have not subjected themselves to the peer review, background investigation, and testing regimens we have done. So our goal what we need is to stand out from these competitors as much as possible.
As well, our members possess special talents at thinking on our feet, delivering impassioned pleas, and providing informed advice on the law and the range of reasonable outcomes. We view ourselves at the pinnacle of the profession. Our distinction is further shown by the fact that mediation and the cost of litigation causes most cases to settle or conclude by plea agreements. This means that fewer and fewer trial lawyers actually do try cases. Not us. Courtroom experience with the assigned judge and adverse expert witnesses against our clients offer advantages few can duplicate. And, the cost to the client ordinarily is the same.

Who Is Your Audience?

We have two key constituencies. First, we want to attract potential clients seeking trial counsel in Minnesota via internet searches. Obviously the internet is flooded by lawyers advertising and we want to stand out insofar as it is possible. It would seem an innovative and classy logo, some website enhancements, and better search engine optimization efforts will assist the effort. Second, we want to appeal to non-member Minnesota certified trial specialists so they are attracted to join ACTLM. So a design challenge here is to appeal to those unsophisticated in the law (i.e. potential clients), and to those highly sophisticated in the law (i.e. non-member certified trial lawyers).

Requirements

We Like These Examples

I cannot find many good examples. I like my own logo for PLDF (www.pldf.org - a crowdSpring product). Also if you go to the PLDF site and click on "resources" and then "helpful links" you'll see a listing of defense lawyer sites. Most are uninspiring except perhaps West Virginia that at least has some pizzaz. Even the large American Association for Justice (www.atlanet.org) logo isn't very exciting. So good luck!

We Absolutely Must Have

A color scheme that reflects a high degree of professionalism and sophistication. Our current website (www.actlm.com) has a gray/black/taupe(?)/white look that I suppose we should try (but it would be nice to see some blue or even red to jazz it up). It must reflect a sophisticated cool expression, not the over-used, ubiquitous scales of justice or a gavel (judges wooden mallet). (However, a scales or gavel might work as long as its unique.) Other potential symbols might include a courtroom scene, pillars (courthouse exterior), or an attorney addressing a judge or jury. Regardless, we welcome your imagination!
If any human figure is presented in some way of course it must be gender neutral.
The letters ACTLM probably should appear somewhere on the logo.
The logo must fit well on letterhead (center or left corner), as well as #10 envelopes.
We must also have an improvement over our current logo, at www.actlm.com. Also we want a better logo than the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (the group that sponsors the tests) at www.nblsc.us.

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