Saturday, June 20, 2015

3. What’s In a Name?

I have always been proud of my name.  There’s a sizable population of Bickers living in England, particularly in the counties of Yorkshire and Suffolk on the East coast.  From there, our family has spread primarily to the United States and Australia.  In fact, virtually every single person in the U.S. with the Bickers name can trace their ancestry to a Robert Bickers who first appeared in Virginia records in 1728.

Our ten-foot sign outside our office.  Hard to miss.
In the 287 years since then, various members of my extended family became attorneys, but to my knowledge, none of them formed partnerships with other family members and called themselves Bickers & Bickers until my father and I did so in 1984 and my wife and I did so in 1999.  While practicing in Memphis, no one ever really drew attention to our name.  The closest thing to that might have been my father’s campaign slogan when he was running for a seat on the (dysfunctional) City Council in 1968: “Bickering –NO!  Bickers –YES!” 

Appearing on The Tonight Show, November, 2010.
But in 1999, things were different in Murrysville.  For one, we were allowed to advertise and put a large sign outside our office, so we put up a lighted sign that could not be missed.  It became a landmark in our community for the next 16 years.  Diane and I were also in practice long enough for our ads and word of mouth to get our name around.  Being a husband and wife firm added appeal to our situation (although we never did handle divorces or family law).  Then there was the Internet which also provided an outlet to advertise our services.  Our website also allowed us to be known to people all over the world.

It didn’t take long for word about the law firm with the funny name to get out.  Our sign appeared on various websites about humorous signs or professionals with funny names. Using photos of our sign or images of our webpage, Bickers & Bickers showed up on the Late Show with David Letterman, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and on the Ellen Degeneres Show.  Local newspapers wrote clever articles about the married couple who loved to argue –court cases!  Others wrote on how our name was well fitted to our profession.

Diane had a solo practice before I joined her in 1999.
In one example of how our name has popped up in unusual places, I found a website where someone had gone to a model railroad convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and on the side of one of the miniature buildings of a tiny town someone built for their train, was an exact copy of our sign!  I suppose the hobbyist thought that if you are going to have a law office in your model town, it might as well be a memorable one!  I couldn’t agree more. 

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