How can I go about getting the title "esquire"?

The Staff Report: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1465/how-can-i-go-about-getting-the-title-esquire

An earlier thread about the honorific: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=246479&highlight=esquire

Two typos:

*…Also a title of office given to sheriffs, serjeants, and and barristers at law, justices of the peace, and others…

…Among lawyers, it’s thought pretentious if you signs yourself “Esq.” in written communications…*.

Although I suppose that second one might just be slangy.

Get a law degree and pass the bar. AFAIK, that’s the only real legitimate use of that term anymore, to denote a lawyer.

In England nowadays, anybody can add Esq., indeed it is often done, it no longer has the snobbery connotations it used to and there is no snob police for this. However it is still restricted to males. There are no links to the legal profession in its country of origin, we leave that to Americans to be different and complicate matters.

So John Smith Esq. is perfectly acceptable though a little pretentious.

Beware that no other title is used. Mr John Jones Esq. means that the writer is a prat.

Except that Esquire is not a legal term. Anybody can be a goddam Esquire if they want to.

Esquire is a title of nobility and, as such, it is forbidden by the US Constitution to have such a title bestowed upon you by our government, (although it’s okay to receive such a title from a foreign government if you’re a private citizen and not an elected official). Under US law, your name is your own property and you are allowed to alter it as you please, as long as you’re not doing so for the purpose of committing fraud or evading law enforcement.

If you start out life as “David Jones” and then start calling yourself “David Jones, Esquire” and pretending to be a lawyer, you’re guilty of fraud and practicing law without a license. But if you just do it for fun, you can call yourself anything you want.

Similarly, you can call yourself “Dr. Jones” just for grins and giggles, but you cross the line into fraud when you ask a hospital to hire you, claiming you graduated from medical school and you really didn’t. And it’s illegal to practice medicine without a license, regardless of what you call yourself.

P.S. I can’t believe nobody has mentioned Bill S. Preston, Esquire.

Been that way for years in England. When I was a kid in the 50s I always added Esq. after my surname as did a lot of my friends. It was something most of us dropped as we grew older but it was quite prevalent back then.

One wonders why Ted “Theodore” Logan didn’t follow suit.

In most countries lawyers get the title doctor (as in juris doctorate, the degree they are awarded). In the US lawyers do not use doctor, so to distinguish themselves from non-lawyers, they adopted Esquire as their title.

In Aus, I’ve seen Esq. used by older farmers.

I think that the older Aus tradition was that you could adopt this form if you were rich enough and important enough, but particularly for land-owners. The English form “Squire”, meaning the local large land owner, landlord, and employer, also has the post-nomiaal form Esquire.

Also, foreign nobility naturalised to the UK did not retain their foreign status: they did not gain seats in the upper house. They were entitled to the form “Esquire”.

[off topic} Count Dracula wouldn’t have been a Count in Poland, because they didn’t use words like that. Poland had a completely flat nobility structure: all nobles had the same legal status and they thought titles were ridiculus at best. But when they came to Englend, if they didn’t have a title, the English treated them like — well the English were very class-ridden — So in English, they sometimes adopted English titles.[ end off topic]

I’m not sure what Poland has to do with Dracula… He’s stated to be from Transylvania, and named for Vlad III of Wallachia, neither of which was Polish territory either during the time the novel was set, nor during Vlad III’s lifetime.

Of course, if Dracula is, in fact, Vlad III (van Helsing claims he is, but the account doesn’t line up well), being a Transylvanian count would have been a downgrade from his former position of Prince of Wallachia