We all know that law is a very serious and professional field. As a result, even the practitioners always appear courteous, cultured and professional. Also, they expect their clients to treat them with respect and courtesy. If you hire a lawyer for your case, it is a given that you must communicate with him or her from time to time. However, you must make sure that you address him/her properly.
Legal practitioners respect professional and well-written communication. Don’t forget that your first impression or contact with a lawyer matters. The question then is, what is the proper way to address a lawyer?
To address a lawyer appropriately, understand the difference between someone with a law degree and one with the license to practice law.
How to Address a Lawyer Properly?
1. Someone with Juris Doctorate
JD as sometimes called or Juris doctorate is also a law degree. This means that the holder of this degree attended and has become a graduate of law school. It is just like a student of psychology who attended graduate school just for the Ph.D. in higher-level studies. Such a person is not a practicing lawyer just because he or she has the JD. Furthermore, having the J.D. is not a criterion for taking or passing your state’s Bar Exam.
When you want to address a law degree holder who is not practicing law, it means that you want to honor the J.D. The appropriate addressing for this person is for instance, “Attn: Peter Clever, J.D. that is if you are addressing a letter or an envelope. For the Salutation of the letter, it should be “Dear Mr. Clever”.
2. For a Practicing Lawyer
If someone is a practicing lawyer, it means that he or she must have taken and passed the State’s Bar Exam. Therefore, if the practicing lawyer attended and passed Law school with a Juris Doctorate Degree also, you cannot address him/her with it. The appropriate address for a practicing lawyer should be either “Attorney at Law” or “Esquire.” These forms of addresses are interchangeable.
Most attorneys use one or the other on correspondence or business cards. For instance, “Jane Peters, Esquire.” In case you are not aware of how the lawyer addresses himself or herself, you can select either of the forms of address. However, if you have their website or business card, you can use the term the lawyer used there. Remember that they can abbreviate “Esquire” to “Esq.” When you are saluting a letter to them, you can always use “Dear Mr. or Mrs. John” since salutations do not recognize a lawyer’s status.
When you want to address an envelope, invitation card, or letter to a couple and the wife is a practicing lawyer, it is different. Make sure that you should place the wife’s name first before the husband’s. For instance, they will be addressed as follows; Jane Clever, Esq. and Peter Clever. It is according to the Standard Protocol which states that individuals with credentials should be addressed first. On the other hand, if both parties practice law or have equivalent high-degrees, use the traditional formatting.
3. For Solo Law Practices or Corporate Lawyers
Layers perform many different tasks for industries working in their various business structures. Some of these lawyers maintain a private law practice and some work for government entities or corporations. To address a letter or an envelope to this type of lawyer, it will be different too. First, write the lawyer’s name and then follow it with the governmental agency, corporation or law firm on the following line before the address.
If you go to the websites of many organizations, you will see the name list and titles of their major employees. Carry out thorough research to find out if there is an additional title that pertains to the attorney you want to address. For instance, if it is an environmental agency, they are likely to list the title of their lawyer as follows; “Peter Clever, Esquire, Regulation Specialist”.
Lawyers love to be addressed with respect and regard. If you want to write to a lawyer, you must know the appropriate way to address him or her professionally.