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JustPlainBryan
05-29-2002, 01:24 PM
As a salesperson, I deal with alot of people's names. Today I took an order from a guy that had "Esquire" as part of his full name. This got me to pondering two things:

1. What exactly does the "Esquire" addition to a name mean?

2. Are there any "Esquire" people here? If so, do you use the "Esquire" addition when you fill out order forms and the like? Do people tend to pre-judge you when you use that addition?

bordelond
05-29-2002, 01:28 PM
"Esquire" often means that someone is an attorney, at least in the U.S. I'm not sure if it has another meaning in the UK.

missbunny
05-29-2002, 01:29 PM
Hi -

1. It means "attorney."

2. Yes, there are some here, but I am not sure if they add Esq. to their names.

JustPlainBryan
05-29-2002, 02:14 PM
Can the "Esquire" addition be passed on to offspring, as in "Bill S. Preston Esquire" from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?

Cliffy
05-29-2002, 02:14 PM
These days, in the U.S., it means you're an attorney. (Technically, it means you're entitled to pass the Bar -- not the Bar exam, but what was in old courtrooms an actual bar that separated the lawyers from the gallery; in current U.S. practice, to be so entitled, you usually need to graduate from law school, achieve a satisfactory score on the Bar exam, be "of good character" as your state defines it, and have been sworn in to practice by a court.)

I don't use it in daily life, but it is part of my professional name. I introduce myself as "Alex Pascover," but I sign letters to clients "Alexander Wms. Pascover, Esq." I wouldn't really use it on order forms, but if I were a sole practicioner and I were ordering something for my business I would. Also, if I were ordering something like stationery I'd use it too. (If I wanted that on the stationery -- I used to sell the stuff and I can't tell you how many times our printers just read the name off the order form instead of looking at the name they actually wanted on the product.) So I guess to evaluate if it were appropriate, I'd have to know what you sold. But as to being permissable, it's just like "Dr."; you're the one who earned it, you're the one who gets to decide when to use it.

--Cliffy, Esq.

JustPlainBryan
05-29-2002, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by Cliffy
So I guess to evaluate if it were appropriate, I'd have to know what you sold.

I work for MobilePlanet ("http://www.mobileplanet.com), and this particular person bought an earpiece for his cellphone. His credit card has "Esq" on it, so I had to enter his name as such. Whether it was appropriate or not was a moot point in that case.

Thanks for all your answers by the way!

JustPlainBryan
05-29-2002, 02:26 PM
Oy, preview is my friend, preview is my friend......

Cliffy
05-29-2002, 02:26 PM
Originally posted by JustPlainBryan
Can the "Esquire" addition be passed on to offspring, as in "Bill S. Preston Esquire" from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?

No. Or rather, yes, but only by paying for them to go to law school.. ;)

--Cliffy

P.S. Bill was just a dorky kid who thought "Esquire" was cool.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
05-29-2002, 02:30 PM
At one time, it seemed that anyone who could be considered a "gentleman" might use Esquire; there was a time in my life when I did so, because I was enamored of 19th century manners and customs. But is the use of the word Esquire now restricted by law to attorneys, or is that just tradition? Could I have been prosecuted for practicing law without a license?

I'd imagine that if I gave out business cards that said, "Javaman, Esq.", many people might wrongly assume that I was an attorney, and that would be illegal. But if the cards said, "Javaman, Esq., Programmer Extroardinaire", then would that absolve me of guilt or liability?

xizor
05-29-2002, 02:36 PM
This was answered in the mailbag (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mesquire.html) a while back

RegularGuy
05-29-2002, 02:39 PM
This is my first post, so I'll probably screw it up a bit -- but here goes. Javaman, I've always heard that the "esquire" schtick stemmed from days of old, knights and squires, trial by combat, that sort of thing. Fella gets challenged to a duel, thinks the challenger is beneath him, sends out his designated shield-bearer to fight the guy on his behalf. Through the years, one's attorney took over significantly similar functions and got entitled to the "esquire" treatment.

As for your personal use of the term, I'd refer you back to what Cliffy already said; substitute "Doctor" in your question and see where it gets you.

RegularGuy
05-29-2002, 02:41 PM
Oh, man, look at that. Five seconds before I post, someone beats me to it. Must happen a lot around here. Makes me look like an idiot, though.

Nametag
05-29-2002, 02:47 PM
This (http://www.richecourt.com/glossary_of_noble_terms.htm) site gives the British usage:

in Great Britain, a member of the gentry ranking below a knight; squire.

This sort of "esquire" is not hereditary; the title was, at one time, claimed by the leading gentleman of a parish without being bestowed, and was in this sense inherited at times. Neither variety of "esquire" is much used any more, aside from being used by certain officials. Lawyers in Britain are gentlemen, but not squires.

Acsenray
05-29-2002, 02:53 PM
I think the mailbag answer was slightly wrong. In England, I believe, it is perfectly acceptable (if slightly old fashioned) for any adult man to use "Esq." instead of "Mr." It long ago became a courtesy title (just like "Mr.") for anyone without some other title.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
05-29-2002, 03:13 PM
Originally posted by RegularGuy

As for your personal use of the term, I'd refer you back to what Cliffy already said; substitute "Doctor" in your question and see where it gets you.
But there's a significant difference between Doctor and Esquire. Doctor specifically means that you have a doctorate level degree.

Esquire, on the other hand, still has vestigial usages besides designating someone as an attorney. So I'd assume I could still call myself Esq. if I wanted to, as suggested by the mailbag link above. Not that I would now, of course: When I used to do it I was just a dorky kid who thought it sounded cool.

RegularGuy
05-29-2002, 03:42 PM
I dunno, javaman. "Doctor" seems to have a unofficial connotation to boot; witness Dr. J, Doctor Demento, and, uh, that guy on "Third Watch."

Boy, that argument sure petered out right quick. But all the same, I'd figure a "Doc" nickname or the like is not unheard of. Throw in honorary doctorates and we're straying into territory where the term begins to lack any real meaning. (Didn't Kermit the Frog receive a bona fide honorary degree?)

percussion
05-29-2002, 05:32 PM
i wish i could be an "esquire"

as my real name is Ed Squires

Cliffy
05-29-2002, 05:34 PM
You're not going to be prosecuted for using it. You're not going to prosecuted for calling yourself "Doctor," either, or even "Mr. President," as long as you're not using it as part of a scam. But people will think you're a boob. ;)

--Cliffy

JustPlainBryan
05-29-2002, 05:46 PM
<hijacking my own thread>

Is there any difference at all between a solicitor, a lawyer, and an attorney, or do they all mean the same thing?

peepthis
05-29-2002, 08:16 PM
In Cambridge at least, you're entitled to be called "esquire" after you've completed an undergraduate degree. I assume the same is true at Oxford, but am not sure about other universities in England.

occ
05-30-2002, 01:48 AM
Yeah, Cece's column seems to say that it's simply short for "Attorney at Law", and that there are rules of usage (of course). I was formerly under the impression that it was just a formal way to address a letter -- similar to "Master Joe Blow".

Cliffy
05-30-2002, 09:59 AM
"Master" is how you address a child.

In the U.S., lawyer and attorney are essentially synonymous; it's really a matter of style as to which you'd use. (Attorney is probably a little more formal.) The tasks of attorneys in the U.S. are split in the UK between two people, the solicitor and the barrister. My understanding (maybe quite faulty) is that barristers actually argue in court and solicitors have the contact with the client (as well as doing all the cool stuff in areas of law other than litigation, such as negotiating complex business transactions.) In the U.S., the terms solicitor and barrister aren't really proper.

--Cliffy

occ
05-30-2002, 11:49 AM
Cliffy: isn't the "using Master to address a child" thing simply something that sprung up because it was "cute"? I'm assuming that, at one point, "Master" was a formal appelation used when addressing correspondence.

Cliffy
05-30-2002, 12:15 PM
I've never heard of that (and I have seen "Master" used for children in books from the 1800's at least), but I'm no etymologist.

--Cliffy

mbh
05-30-2002, 12:34 PM
See if you can find a couple of books:

Titles and Forms of Address by Armiger
Debrett's Correct Form by Patrick W. Montague-Smith

If you want to get really snooty, the term "Esquire" properly refers to the son of a knight or a baronet. One of the above-mentioned books contains a long rant, bemoaning the fact that in common usage, it "is now used by anyone who cannot claim any higher title".

In the USA, lawyers' use of the term is more a custom than a law. It is more common in the eastern states than in the west. None of the lawyers in my town uses it.

In Scotland, the title "Master" has a specific usage. I don't remember for sure, but I think it refers to the heir of a clan chief, or some such celebrity. Armiger and Montague-Smith can fill you in, in excruciating detail.

Acsenray
05-30-2002, 01:38 PM
Is there any difference at all between a solicitor, a lawyer, and an attorney, or do they all mean the same thing?

A "lawyer" is anyone licensed to practice law. Sometimes people call anyone with a law degree a "lawyer," even if they haven't passed the bar.

Strictly speaking, an "attorney" can be any kind of agent or representative, basically someone who can act in your place as a deputy or substitute. An "attorney at law" is a lawyer.

In some states, such as South Carolina, I think, there is a higher rank of lawyer called "counsellor." This is a title that is granted by the bar association to those who have excelled.

In England, there are two kinds of lawyers. A solicitor is your ordinary kind of lawyer. If you decide you need a lawyer, you visit a solicitor's firm. However, in certain courts, a solicitor is not allowed to plead at the bar. Only barristers are permitted to argue in the highest courts, but this seems to be changing, with more and more barristers' jobs being done by solicitors.

Traditionally, barristers had to be of a certain social rank, and were considered more posh than solicitors. However, it is also the case that in serving the client, the barrister is sort of considered junior to the solicitor. The client belongs to the solicitor. The barrister is not allowed to accept money directly from the client. The solicitor "instructs" the barrister with regard to the case.

In common law there were several kinds of courts, each with different names for the kinds of lawyers who practiced there:

Court of Law -- attorney and barrister
Chancery Court (Equity Court) -- solicitor and attorney
Admiralty and other courts -- proctor and attorney

Or, something like that.

Acsenray
05-30-2002, 01:42 PM
Also, barristers don't belong to firms. Although a barrister may share chambers with other barristers and pitch in to hire secretaries and clerks, each barrister is considered to be a one-person operation, and doesn't share his fees with the other barristers in chambers. Often, the clerk in chambers becomes quite powerful, because he or she can decide which barrister to send business when a solicitor comes in with a case.

SuaSponte
05-30-2002, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by javaman
[B]
But there's a significant difference between Doctor and Esquire. Doctor specifically means that you have a doctorate level degree.

Esquire, on the other hand, still has vestigial usages besides designating someone as an attorney. So I'd assume I could still call myself Esq. if I wanted to, as suggested by the mailbag link above. Not that I would now, of course: When I used to do it I was just a dorky kid who thought it sounded cool.

Well, lawyers in the U.S. also have a doctoral level degree.

Sua

peepthis
05-30-2002, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by SuaSponte
Well, lawyers in the U.S. also have a doctoral level degree.

Sua
Not necessarily. There are still some states left that don't require lawyers to earn a J.D. (Juris Doctor) before taking the bar exam.

mapsmith
05-30-2002, 09:11 PM
I liked the fact that because I am no longer a yeoman (wage slave) I can call myself a Gentleman. i.e. Gentleman Smith. However, I also feel that I can call myself Master. I do have a Master's Degree and feel that I could use Master (or Maestro, or in Spanish- Doctor) But I will stay just Mapsmith. That describes me best.

Acsenray
05-30-2002, 09:15 PM
The degree that is now given out at most American law schools as a Juris Doctor (J.D.) was, 30 or 40 years ago, usually called a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.). As far as I can tell, the conditions and requirements were still the same. Only the name of the degree was changed. I wonder whether most state bar associations require a "J.D.," explictly, or just "a law degree from an accredited law school." If that's the case, then most states don't strictly require lawyers to have "a doctoral-level degree."