"Esquire" claiming to be an attorney?

Sometimes, just for giggles, I will append “Esq.” on my name. I was recently called to task and all but threatened with legal action by an attorney who lives somewhere in the Deep South. He claimed that my use of “Esq.” was essentially illegally claiming that I was an attorney at law, admitted before the Bar.

I’d never heard this before. Is this a load of ballocks?

Depends. How did you use it? What kind of letter was it? Were you corresponding with an attorney, threatening legal action? We’d have to know more about the specifics of the situation, but unless the situation was such that your use was intended or seemed intended to imply that you were practicing law, it’s probably just hot air. Attorneys use “esq.”, but they/we don’t have a monopoly on the practice, as evidenced by that preeminent legal journal, Esquire magazine.

Staff report on Esquire

Tell you attorney friend that he needs to get a sense of humor, and, oh yeah, that he’s wrong. In America these days, people that put “Esq.” after their names are usually thought to be referring to themselves as attorneys, but “Esquire” is actually derived from a term of honor describing an English gentry just below a knight. From Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (via dictionary.com):

Incidentally, because “esquire” is considered a term of honor, it’s usually considered bad form to refer to yourself as “Joe Blow, Esquire.” You append “Esq.” to the end of someone else’s name, but never to the end of your own name. That would be like referring to yourself as “Joe Blow, Better-than-you.”

Of course, since it’s apparently done with tongue planted firmly in cheek, then I say, have a ball.

The courtesy title Esquire does not necessarily imply that the holder is a lawyer:

Webster’s Secretarial Handbook 215 (2d ed. 1983).

And now that I’ve opened pravnik, Esq.'s link, I see that I’ve just repeated what’s already been made apparent.

But you did so elegantly and succicntly, Age Quod Agis. :wink:

I did a google search on the subject. A link came up for Ohio that appeared to be illegal to call oneself Esquire if they are not an attorney. However, I couldn’t open the link to view the whole subject.

Your lawyer friend may very well know something you don’t about the law in your state.

Have the lawyer friend quote the law he’s talking about, with the precise clause that indicates that only a lawyer can use the term.

You may have been looking at something like this, bernse; it’s an Ohio Board of Grievances opinion stating that it’s misleading to sign collections letters “Esq.” unless you’re licensed in that state. But that goes back to what I said earlier; context is everything. If you’re threatening legal action and deliberately creating the misleading impression that you’re a licensed attorney when you aren’t, that’s different from just signing your personal correspondence with “Esq.”

Gotcha. Thanks.

That dude would probably have a conniption fit if he ever saw Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Oh, and Bernse? That’s Gotchya ya.

I was commenting about D&D on a discussion board, not mentioning any sort of legal activity.

Oh, then its OK to use ‘Esquire,’ since you’re a rules lawyer.


(You have to be a player to understand.)

How long before this turns into the “How dare Ph.Ds call themselves doctors” thread?