How to Address a Lawyer



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HONOR & RESPECT

Abbess,
    Christian Orthodox       
Abbot,
    Christian Orthodox        
Accountant        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     
Admiral
        

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       
Alderman
        

Archbishop, Catholic        
Archbishop,
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Archimandrite        
Architect
Archpriest        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador to your country
   from a foreign country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   by a U.S. Citizen       
American Indian Chief        
Assemblyman
   U.S., State / or           

   Assemblywoman            
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Astronaut      
Attorney
         
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
       Assistant   
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
         
Brother,
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
Bishop,
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Boy        
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
Candidate    
Captain,
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Cardinal
             
Chairman
    Federal Reserve      
Chairwoman      
Chancellor      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
   Officer          
Child
           
Chiropractor     
City Manager
   
Clergy & Religious
    Officials     
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commandant       
Commissioner, Court     
Commissioner
         
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
 
Consultant      
Corporate Executive         
Councilman
    Councilwoman      
Counselor (Diplomat)      
Countess     
County Officials       
Couples     
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens  
Curator        

Dalai Lama          
Deacon         
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State
            

Dentist             
Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
Designate,
Elect,
    Pro Tempore      
Diplomats      

District Attorney           
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
          
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate        
Doctorate, honorary      

Earl            
Elect, Designate
  
Pro Tempore      
Emeritus/emerita
     
Eminence     
Emperor    
Engineer    
Esquire, Esq.       
Etiquette    
Excellency           

Family     
Fiancee      
Firefighter    
First, Second,
   Third, etc.        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lieutenant
   
Flag Protocol     
Former Officials    
Freeholder       

Gay Couple      
Geshe

General
    USA, USAF, USMC
Girl       

Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
ant
 
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
Governor
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
     
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
          
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
   
Honourable, The
   
 
   

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
Introductions       
Invitations
  
   Writing &  
   Addressing  
Invitations
   
Military:
    Writing &
    Addressing

Judge, former     
Judge of US City or

        US Count     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc.       

Justice, Associate

     Federal
     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     State
     Supreme Court

King     
Knight      

Late, The
   (deceased persons)
       
Lawyer      
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant      
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
    
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    
     

Major
   USA, USAF, USMC  
Major General,
   USA, USAF, USMC   
Man, business
          
Man, social
         
Marquess / Marchioness
 
 
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
     
Mayor, Vice    
Medic      
Minister,
   Protestant Clergy       
Miss      
Monk,
   Christian Orthodox     
Monsignor       
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
    
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   
   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, British
       
Nobility, Other     
Nun, Catholic
  
Nun, Orthodox
Nurse           

Officer, Police     
Optometrist     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
Patriarch,
   Christian Orthodox  
Patriarch,
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Permanent
     Representative        
Petty Officer
      
Pharmacist     
Physician
        
PhD     
Place Cards            
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
  
Pope, Coptic
      
Postmaster General         
Post-Nominal
    Abbreviations    
Presbyter, Orthodox
   
President, corporate
President of
    College or
    University   
President of a
    Secondary
    School      
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
President-elect
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
Priest,
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
       
Principal      
Professionals
   & Academics         
Professor
     
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    
Psychologist      

Queen

Rabbi               
Ranger, Texas        
Representative,
   U.S., Federal           
Representative,
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Resident
    Commissioner 
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

   3. Q&A / Blog on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
      
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
     
Second
Lieutenant        
Secretary,
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
Secretary
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
      
Sergeant       
Sergeant at Arms
          
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sheriff       
Sister, Catholic       
Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
   Representatives.           
Specialist       
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Town Justice      
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary    
US Attorney
       
US Federal Officials
     
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Veterinarian
           
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
   
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
 
Viscount and/or
   Viscountess        

Warrant Officer       
Widow
     
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


   

How to Address an Attorney or Lawyer
In the United States

Envelope to an attorney on a legal matter:
    (Full Name), Esq.
        Name of Firm
            (Address)
 

Letter salutation:
    Dear Mr./Ms. (surname):

 

NOTE: Esquire, abbreviated Esq. is a courtesy title, and as such is used by others when addressing an attorney. It is not used by the attorney with his or her own name.
       For more information on why this is true, see How Do I Write My Name as an Attorney?

      
Individuals with a Juris Doctor will use the academic post-nominal abbreviation JD or J.D. in academic situations. 

       I get questions asking whether faculty at law schools are addressed as Dr. (Name) like their academic colleagues holding doctorates?  In practice, legal faculty are typically addressed as Mr./Ms. (Name) in style of their practicing legal colleagues.
 


FYI, here is what's come in to the Blog that relates to this office/rank.
   For recent questions sent in, check out Robert Hickey's Blog.

   For specific offices/ranks, check out Robert Hickey's On-Line Guide.


How Do I Use "Esquire"
with the name of an Attorney?

    I am not sure if I should show my name followed by Esq., J.D. or Esq., Dr. or Dr., Esq. or just Esq. or J.D.  Any help would be appreciated.

         -- Kenneth Millard

   I am an attorney and I do not use Esq. following my surname.  Although I am a practicing attorney (with many professional accolades from my peers), it strikes me that to insert the Esq. would project an aura of self-importance I do not feel.
         -- Robert Simpson

Dear Mr. Millard:
     In the much of the public's mind
Esq.is used after a name to identify a lawyer in exactly the same way M.D. after a name identifies a doctor. But in fact they are not equivalent.
    The most traditional form of address for others to use when
writing to a practicing attorney (e.g., on a letter) in his or her role as counsel in litigation is:
         
Kenneth Millard, Esq.
   
Use of Esq. is important among the ethics rules of the legal profession which require communications from an attorney (on one side) be with the opposing side's attorney rather than directly with the opposing side. By addressing the other side's attorney as Esq., the person initiating the communication is being clear that he or she is following correct procedure.
     However, traditionally
Esq. is not used reflexively ... that is, one does not call oneself an Esq.  Thus on a business card or letterhead names of the principals, partners, associates, are be presented without post nominals:
          Kenneth Millard
          Attorney at Law
     J.D. is most often used in academic contexts. If you are the author of a article that's published in an academic journal or teach at a university and are listed in the catalog, then using your specific academic degree is pertinent and traditional:
          Kenneth Millard, J.D.
     And finally:
         
Esq. and J.D. are not used in combination.
          I'd say that it is very, very, very rare for a person holding a J.D. to want to be addressed as Dr. (name).
          Dr. is not used before or after an attorney's name in any circumstance.
                   -- Robert Hickey

How to use Esq. with Academic Post Nominals?
      I cannot find a reliable source that addresses the use of Esq. with my academic credentials.
      I received a JD/MBA in 2004 and I am licensed to practice in both Georgia and Florida. Since most attorneys admitted to practice in my jurisdictions do not have graduate business credentials, I think there is a competitive advantage if my clients and prospective clients know that I have and MBA in addition to my law licenses. What is the proper way for me to include these post nominals on my business cards, letterhead and email signature block?
              -- Gordon L. Pendleton, Atlanta, Georgia

Dear CAM:
        I include a chapter on courtesy titles and post-nominal abbreviations in my book. There is no mention of using both Esq. and Academic Post Nominals for a reason:
        JD and MBA are academic post-nominal abbreviations. They are ordered high to low after your name, and included only if they are professionally pertinent.
        Esq. is a courtesy title. It is used in direct address by others, not by the person reflexively: You never use it with your own name. 
      The rule is: academic post nominals are not used with courtesy titles. It is strictly either/or.

      * It is traditional for others to address attorneys in legal correspondence with the courtesy title
Esq. after their name.
Esq. is not used on social correspondence.
      * Those in academia are more likely to use (and be addressed with) the academic post nominal abbreviation JD. If you want to include your academic post-nominals, present your name using the academic formula and include your profession after your name:
           Gordon L. Pendleton, JD, MBA

          Attorney at Law

                 -- Robert Hickey

      Many many thanks for your prompt response and sage guidance. I will definitely add your book to my library.
   
           -- Gordon L. Pendleton, Atlanta, Georgia

How to Address an Attorney and Spouse?
     I have to write to and acknowledge several donors for an upcoming community event.
     How to I address the envelopes?
          1st couple, he is an attorney, she is not
    
     2nd couple both are attorneys
              -- PM, Meeting Coordinator

Dear PM,
    1) Socially attorneys are Mr./Ms. (Name) ... the post nominal Esq. is not used socially. Unless you are writing to them on a matter of which he is the legal counsel (and since you are including his spouse it's unlikely that his participation is as an attorney) ... no Esq.
        Thus, socially an attorney and his wife are simply:
            Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wilson
                or
            Mr. Thomas Nelson and Ms. Nancy Henderson

                   Another option, if you want to include her given name or you
                   know she prefers
Mrs. is:
                       
Mr. Thomas Nelson and Mrs. Nancy Henderson
                  
... but I wouldn't do it unless you know she likes Mrs. since
                   traditionally Mrs. Nancy Henderson is the form used by a
                   divorced woman who want to continue using her former
                   husband's family name.


    2) Socially, if both are attorneys and use the same family name ... use the same forms noted above.
                 -- Robert Hickey

Can You Address an Attorney as Dr.?
      It is my understanding that a non-practicing lawyer (i.e., no longer licensed) does not use Esq. May we use Dr. to address her (since her academic rank is J.D.)?

              -- Rod

Dear Rod:
    The short answer is: attorneys are not addressed as
Dr. (Name).
    
I have never encountered an attorney (practicing, retired, or even a law professor) who requested to be addressed as Dr. (Name).
    Of the attorneys I have polled (that is many), all had a very negative view of use of Dr. by attorneys in any circumstance. I spare you how they described the few attorneys who did. Every attorney said to that the use of Mr./Ms. is the tradition.
    Since it's the opinion of one's peers which matters the most
, address this and any attorney as Mr./Ms. (Name).
 
              -- Robert Hickey

When Does a Law Professor Use Esq.?
When Does
a Law Professor Use JD?
 
       When does one become an esq., and when does that status end? What about law professors who don't keep their licenses active? Is the "Esq." credential acquired upon receiving a law degree, or does it not take effect until they have been admitted to a state bar?
        -- D.Y.U. APR, Stetson University College of Law, Tampa, FL 

Dear D.Y.U.:
USE OF Esq.:
       I have a note above in How Do I Write My Name as an Attorney? about why attorneys are addressed as Esq.
USE OF JD vs. Esq.:
        Today one when graduates from law school, one is typically granted a Juris Doctor or JD.
        A graduate from a law school, when wanting to include his or her degree would write:
               (Full Name), JD
      
When you are addressing a
practicing attorney use the traditional form of address for a practicing attorney in the US:
               (Full Name), Esq.

When to Use Esq.:
      Addressing a professor who also practices might be either depending on what is pertinent.
     
*** JD's in an academic context (teach at a university) use JD .... following the tradition within academia to use academic degrees.  You should use JD on official correspondence to an academic just like you would PhD or MD.
      *** While most academics holding a doctorate are addressed as Dr. in oral conversation or a salutation, law professors are notAddress as Professor (Name).
      *** If writing to a law professor who also practices the law -- relating to his practice of the law in official correspondence -- address as a practicing attorney: (Full Name), Esq.
      *** If writing to a retired attorney, who is no longer be 'open for business' -- Esq. is not pertinent. If you are sending personal correspondence to a law professor or a practicing attorney -- or to either when retired ... they are simply:
              Mr./Ms. (Name)
       
Post nominals are not used on social correspondence.
        -- Robert Hickey

Who Has Higher Precedence: Doctors or Lawyers?
       If ever a host is to receive a medical doctor and a lawyer, with regards to the table seating, who would have precedence: the doctor or the lawyer?
       -- Marie Ange

Dear Ms. Ange,
    I am not aware of any situation in which precedence would be given to physicians and/or lawyers simply due to their profession (outside of an university event, e.g., a their graduation.)
    At official events doctors and lawyers have the precedence of any other citizen, are listed alphabetically in a roster, and would not receive preferential seating.
    However, if he or she held an office (or attended an event in a role) that gave them higher precedence
-- a doctor or lawyer might be seated by the precedence of their office. For example, as president of the local medical board and attending an event as the official representative the organization, a doctor might be seated with other community leaders.
    Or 
a doctor or lawyer is the guest of honor, then he or she would be seated to the right of the host at a table.
        -- Robert Hickey


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For forms of address for invitations, place cards, name badges, introductions, conversation, and all other formal uses, see Honor & Respect: the Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address.

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Photo: Marc Goodman.





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