Most Professions have clear-cut ways of addressing the practitioners, but we can all agree that it’s a bit confusing for Law and Lawyers. So, how do you address a lawyer?
As a business owner who would come in contact with a lawyer at a point in your life, you’re likely to need this knowledge.
Generally, Attorneys/Lawyers are addressed normally but in the professional setting, giving a title seems most fitting.
We will be taking you through some ways through which you can address lawyers but at the end of the day, if you’re still uncertain, then ask them personally how they prefer to be addressed.
There are two types of situations. There’s the Professional correspondence and the social correspondence, and they each have their various means of addressing Lawyers.
1. Professional Correspondence
Using ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’
In the salutations for letters or email, just like you’d address people in other professions and spheres of life, you can address lawyers like this too.
It’s not offensive or incorrect to use ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ if it’s your first time meeting your lawyer.
If you’re going to be working on a case with them for a while, you approach them with a “Good day, Ms. George,” and if she says, “call me Lucy,” then it’s better to call her Lucy from then on.
When writing concerning a Legal Matter, Esquire is more appropriate
This courtesy title is mostly used when writing to a lawyer about a case they will be representing you.
When mailing the letter, write their full names followed by a comma and add “Esq” at the end. Example: Lucy George, Esq. Just like this.
Remember to avoid using Mr or Ms in this situation. Also, these are titles, so just as you won’t see Mr or Ms on the professionals’ business cards, the same goes for lawyers; you won’t see Esquire either, but you should still use it in writing to them.
The Substitute, Attorney at Law
Esquire might seem too traditional for you. In any case, you could use Attorney at Law instead.
You write their dull names first with the title of Mr or Ms in front of it. Then, right under, you write Attorney at law. Example: Ms. Lucy George (Underneath) Attorney at Law.
Add JD next to the Attorney’s name in academic spheres
Even if the lawyer is licensed to study law, so long as they are in the academia, use JD instead of Esquire.
It’s a form of recognition for the degree that shows their academic credentials in a way that Esquire does not.
By the way, if they have one or more degrees, add it after the JD. Example: Lucy George, JD, MBA.
2. Social Correspondence.
Use Mr or Ms
Use the casual courtesy title when addressing lawyers socially. That is Ms. George or Mr. Bernard.
Depending on the closeness of your relationship, the courtesy title can be dropped.
When mailing a letter, though, the courtesy title must be on the envelope regardless of what you call them inside the letter.
Leave out any titles when addressing lawyers and their spouses
Unlike medical practitioners, when lawyers are in a social setting with their spouses, you don’t have to use their titles, JD of Esq. You can use the good old regular courtesy title. Example: Mr &Ms. George.
However, if the lawyer’s spouse is a doctor, you have to call the doctor with their title first before the lawyer.
Example: Doctor Ben George and Ms./Mrs. Lucy George. Note that Esquire is only used in the legal setting but shouldn’t be used in writing or in person.
Be careful of the title female lawyers use socially
Many married women use their maiden name in the professional setting but their marital name in social settings, so it won’t hurt to ask to be sure.
If you know her professionally and socially, ask to clarify what she would prefer to be called.
Also, never use Miss for female lawyers whether you know their marital status. It is seen as a title for females below 18 years of age.
If in doubt, ask the lawyer what she prefers. Also, if she’s married, refer to her as “Ms.” except she says otherwise.
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You now know how to address a lawyer or Attorney in either professional, social, or academic spaces. Ensure you follow through as a means of respect for the profession.