The best fonts for your law firm’s website and advertising are those that are easy for people to quickly glance at and process the core message you’re conveying. Simple fonts (e.g. sans-serif) are the best for accomplishing this.
Readability supersedes branding when it comes to font choice.
Why Fonts Matter
Fonts matter for a variety of reasons, including readability, making a professional impression, and brand recognition. You’ll want to choose a font that can be used consistently across various online and offline mediums—including those that are trickier to print on like clothing, decals for glass surfaces, and office supplies.
Readability and Accessibility
Illegible fonts hurt the reader’s eyes and may open your business up to ADA issues. Legibility comes down to how clearly a reader can decipher each character.
Illegible fonts can also handicap your law firm's SEO initiatives and impact your rankings on search engines if visitors are bouncing away shortly after landing on your site.
While some fonts are hard to read at first glance, others might be more difficult to spot. Selecting a font because it seems unique can backfire if other people have a difficult time reading it. For example, fonts like Brush Script aren’t great because they’re difficult to read.
Readability and accessibility are important for designing printed items, like business cards, law firm letterhead, and brochures. But both are important for online media where you often have a limited time window to make an impression — especially when there’s a small screen involved.
Making a Professional Impression
Good fonts are not only more readable, but they can also add class and style to the content on your site. At first glance, font selection might seem simple: choose a font that appeals to you and the other partners of the firm, right?
People form opinions on the web in around 17 milliseconds. If your font is too cavalier, hard to read, or unprofessional, it's too easy for the reader to keep scrolling on social media or to hit the "back" button.
One font that is perceived as unprofessional is Comic Sans. Avoid using it in any business materials and be mindful that your employees aren’t using it in their emails either. It’s style stands out so much that detracts from the message that’s trying to be conveyed—the exact opposite of what you want.
Unique fonts can help set you apart from the competition. Your potential clients should recognize your firm's fonts along with the other key elements of your brand, like your logo (especially its shape from a distance)and color palette.
Distinguishing your law firm from competitors is essential, and the consistent use of your font is one way to accomplish that.
The 7 Main Elements of Font Typography
There are seven main elements of font typography that influence impression and readability. A font itself is a variation on a typeface, which is defined as the lettering design. Each individual font represents some change to the general typeface.
1. Serif vs Sans Serif
A serif refers to the small lines attached to a font. A serif font has more of a professional and authoritative style. An example of a serif font is Times New Roman, which looks like the printed letters from a typewriter.
In addition to being associated with institutions like the New York Times and other brands with a long history, serif fonts are also easier to read at smaller sizes. Although the complete history of serifs is not known, some believe it's tied to the extra brushstrokes that calligraphers added to the written word.
Sans serif fonts are more modern and are designed to imitate human handwriting today. Futura, Arial, and Helvetica are examples of sans serif fonts.
Sans serif fonts are often found on signage, maps, and websites because they are easier to read.
Not all Sans serif fonts are equal though. For example, highway signs are evolving from using Highway Gothic to Clearview, which are both Sans serif fonts, to solve readability issues caused by halation.
A chosen font size should be big enough to read but not so large that it's overwhelming. Generally, font size is calculated by evaluating the distance between the bottom point of a lowercase "g" to the topmost point of an uppercase “M.”
Most people are familiar with the concept of "points" when it comes to font size, such as 12 point font Times New Roman. A point is .013837 of one inch.
The size of fonts are one of the biggest accessibility issues on the web today. Since over 25 million Americans have vision issues, choose a font with a good size for your website. Use a minimum size of 16px, but 18px for standard paragraph format is preferred.
Color and Contrast
There are two ways that color and contrast impact font selection:
- Potential accessibility and viewing issues, such as when colors are too bright against one another.
- Readability has to do with the contrast between a heading in a document and body copy.
Selecting a basic font in black might not show potential accessibility issues with a given font until it's translated over into different colors in a lawyer logo or the firm name logo. Web accessibility issues impact people who are colorblind and people who are vision impaired and proper color contrast is key for accessibility.
Regular text should have a minimum contrast ratio of 4:5:1 and larger text (such as 18 point) should have a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1. The Kontrast Chrome extension is a good option you can use to audit your site.
Pairings for Primary & Secondary Fonts
Throughout your law firm marketing, you'll use selected fonts in different styles like headings and body copy. If you're mixing different fonts, consider complementary font recommendations. These are fonts that work well together without decreasing readability.
Serif fonts are typically more common for headings because they are bigger and easier to read, but sans serif is best for body paragraphs.
Some complementary font pairings include:
- Helvetica Neue and Garamond
- Monserrat and Courier New
- Merriweather and Montserrat
Bold, Italics, Underline, and Strikethrough
When choosing a font and an appropriate size, make sure that all other elements applied to the font make it readable as well. This means emphatic elements like bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough.
Bolding a font can make it thicker or be used to add a strong emphasis on a particular word. Italics is another way to add emphasis on a particular word or phrase by slanting the text. Compared with the base font, both bold and italics make a font harder to read and therefore should not be used consistently.
Underlining or striking through a font apply lines underneath or through the center of the line of text. Before choosing a font, make sure that the fonts you're exploring are still readable when applying these elements.
The distance between each letter when typed out within words is referred to as letter spacing. If the letter spacing is too tight, it’s hard for readers to see each unique character clearly. This can cause confusion and slow reading time.
Line Spacing/Line Height
Line spacing refers to the vertical distance between lines of text. Most written text today is in single space or double space, although word processors range from 1.0 to 3.0. Adjusting line spacing is more important when a font is harder to read when single spaced. A good rule of thumb for user experience is to set line-height at approximately 150% of the font size.
Where to Use Your Fonts
Each venue might require different fonts since what works well on the web might not perform as well for print. There are four primary places law firms use their fonts: the firm website, branding and logos, email, and legal documents.
Most lawyers work with outside graphic design firms to create the best law firm logo that will help distinguish them in their marketing and advertising. Likewise, many firms partner with outside web design firms to create a compelling template or custom website.
When presented with a design mockup, consider the readability and accessibility issues suggested above.
Branding and Logos
There’s more room for creativity with branding and law firm logo design when looking at fonts. When selecting a font for a law firm logo, you’ll want to consider complementary fonts as well as uppercase versus lowercase letters.
When getting logos and branding elements created, look at plenty of mockups from various distances before committing.
The quinn emanuel law firm uses contrasting colors and all lowercase letters to distinguish its firm.
Morgan & Morgan uses all capital letters throughout their branding, drawing back to their tagline and logo.
Most email service providers use the following fonts:
- Arial Black
- Comic Sans
- Courier New
- Times New Roman
More laid-back law firms might allow individual lawyers and staff members to choose which font appeals to them (it’s worth mentioning again: no Comic Sans, ever) but other firms might prefer the consistent approach of everyone using the same type and size.
Most lawyers are familiar with acceptable legal fonts from their schooling or training. Certain courts might restrict what fonts should be used in briefs and other submitted documents related to legal services, but attorneys still have leeway when it comes to client communications and letterhead.
Source: Design Crowd
What Font Should Your Law Firm Use?
Times New Roman and Helvetica are the most popular fonts to use on legal websites, although these are not the only options. On your website, selecting fonts familiar to your readers can make it easier for them to consume your content.
Branding and Logos
With branding and logos, you can get more creative with font selection. Most branding elements will show up as part of visual designs like your logo or your mark, so choosing a unique font can help you stand apart from your competition in the legal profession.
Consider that your brand’s visual elements will appear in many places and should look consistent and compelling throughout, including:
- Business cards
- Social media graphics
The Montgomery Law logo above weaves the font and chosen colors into the visual mark for the firm as well.
Arial is a go-to sans serif font for emails because it stands alone well and is used throughout print and digital media. While its popularity makes it one to avoid for the more stylistic elements like your logo, it's a perfect choice for emails.
Helvetica, a font that performs well in headers and titles, is not recommended for email use because of the limited spacing between letters.
Times New Roman is the industry standard for legal documents created for court. Be sure to check with your local courts for other requirements such as font size or spacing.
When broadening the scope of legal documents to include letters to clients and emails, Helvetica and Calibri are also popular with lawyers.
Where to Find Free & Premium Fonts Online
Places to Get Free Fonts
Many fonts come with access to tools like Google Docs or Microsoft Word. These free fronts are used widely for documents and emails. However, if you’re building a website or creating social media images, you’ll want to make sure your chosen font is downloaded to your computer and uploaded to any If the font is not available by default, you’ll need to purchase a license and a font file.
Google Fonts is a great source to find font styles that have open source licenses and are free.
Places to Get Premium Fonts
There are many paid sources for finding font styles to support your law firm’s marketing and branding. Here are some options:
- Adobe Fonts has a database of over 20,000 selections. With an Adobe ID, you can access 6,000 of them for free.
- Linotype has around 14,000 fonts for sale priced between $50-250.
- MyFonts has access to thousands of fonts on a per-license basis, which means you'll pay based on how many platforms.
Once you've selected and loaded the chosen font, create or update your law firm’s branding guide so that employees and any outside contractors or firms can consistently use your font across print and web collateral.
Commissioning Custom Fonts
Truly custom fonts may be commissioned, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Custom work requires a great deal of research and development work behind the scenes. The makers of the font Kazimir, for example, estimate that it took their team around $300,000 of team time to get to a finished product. For a custom font with temporary exclusivity, you're probably looking at six figures as a starting point.
Most font creators will want to speak with you first before providing you with a comprehensive quote for your own font.
Most Common Fonts on Attorney Websites
It turns out that many lawyers lean into the same font choices when getting a website built. Nearly 25% of lawyer websites use Opens Sans. Rounding out the top five fonts for law firm websites are:
Choosing the Right Font for Your Law Firm
The fonts you choose for each aspect of your business help to tell a cohesive story. Whether it's in your logo and branding materials or on your website, finding the right font depends upon the unique properties of your brand. Readability, accessibility, and consistency across most marketing materials are all important things to consider when selecting fonts for your law firm.
It may not seem as impactful as other marketing decisions, but branding is about more than just the sum of its parts. Put some thought into your choices and be mindful of your reasons for your decisions.