December 31

How To Address A Lawyer

It is true that if a person has a title, then it is certainly to your advantage to use it in the right way. This could help your case massively because they will be more inclined to listen to what you have to say if you show them a level of respect straightaway.

Business owners will deal with lawyers for a whole host of different reasons, but it is important to remember that someone having a law degree and someone being a lawyer are two very different things. Not every person who has a law degree will take or pass a state bar exam, which is what allows them to become a practicing lawyer.

The truth is, knowing how to address a lawyer properly starts by you having an understanding of the difference between having a law degree and being licensed to practice law. Now, let’s break down the different categories of addressing different kinds of lawyers.

How To Address An Attorney Who Has A Juris Doctorate Degree

So, here we have a Juris Doctorate, or a J.D. which is a law degree. So, it means that the person has attended and also graduated from law school. This is very similar to a psychology student attending a graduate school to get a PhD in postgraduate studies.

A Juris Doctorate on its own is not necessarily a requirement for taking and then passing the state bar exam. Addressing a letter to someone who has a law degree, but who is not actually practicing law means that you should recognize that they have a Juris Doctorate. 

This is also a courtesy which you should show to any other professional who has an advanced degree or who has a doctorate. The appropriate way to address an envelope would be: Attn: John Smith, J.D. but it is important to note that the salutation in the letter itself would still be Dear Mr. Smith.

How To Address A Practicing Attorney

When referring to practicing attorneys, we are discussing those who have taken and passed their state’s bar exam. It is true that most practicing attorneys have attended law school, and they will most likely have a Juris Doctorate. However, it is important to note that the Juris Doctorate is not noted in correspondence. 

Instead, you should address a practicing attorney as either Esquire or attorney at law. These titles are pretty much interchangeable, but it is true that most lawyers will end up having their own preference to which title they are referred to as.

In fact, these titles will probably be printed on their business cards or on any correspondence that they send. If you are in a situation where you do not know how the attorney prefers to be referred to, then you could just choose either.

We recommend that if you can get access to a website, or to a business card or even a letter with the attorney’s preferred term on it then you should use that.

The Abbreviations Of Esquire

The use of Esquire can be abbreviated to Esq. It is important to mention that salutations will not note the attorney status. ‘Dear Mr Smith’ would be the appropriate salutation. If you are addressing an invitation, or if you are addressing a letter, or if you are addressing an envelope to a couple and the wife is a lawyer then her name should be placed first. If both have equivalent advanced degrees or if they both practice law then you should make sure to revert back to the traditional formatting. 

How To Address An Attorney On A Legal Matter

To keep this as simple as possible, Esquire should be used as a courtesy title. This will often be used when an attorney is being addressed in regards to a case where he or she will provide representation.

How To Address An Attorney At Law

You should ensure that you put ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ followed by the full name of the lawyer on the first line of the address. You should put ‘attorney at law’ on the second line of the address, and then you should put the name of the attorney’s law firm, or company or governmental agency on the line underneath ‘attorney at law’.

Then you can add the street address on the next line with the city, the state and the ZIP code right on the last line.

How To Address An Esquire

Here you need to ensure that the lawyer’s full name is followed by a comma, and then you should type ‘Esq’ after the comma. Similarly to the way that you write out an address for an attorney at law, you should put the name of the law firm, company or the governmental agency on the line that comes underneath the name. Then you can add the street address on the next line with the city, then the state and then the ZIP code on the last line. The salutation ‘Dear Mr’ or ‘Dear Ms’ should be followed by the last name of the lawyer.

It is important to mention that Esquire is not used when you are addressing an attorney socially.

How You Should Address A Lawyer In Court

When you are addressing an attorney in court you can use Mr., Ms., Sir or Madam – but you should always address a judge as ‘Your Honor’.

In Conclusion

Lawyers can serve many different industries who are working in a wide variety of business structures. In fact, some attorneys will even maintain solo law practices, and others will work for corporations or even government entities.

When you are addressing an envelope or a letter to a lawyer then the lawyer’s name will be followed by the law firm, the corporation or the governmental agency will be on the next line before the address.

You can take the time to review any additional titles that the lawyer who you are addressing might have. If your lawyer specializes in a certain area then this is something that you can include too.    



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