Why Do Lawyers Use Esq?

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    British Origins

    • Esquire was originally used in England to denote social status. An esquire was a social class above gentleman and below knight.

    U.S. Usage

    • In the United States, which lacks the class structure of England, esq. has become associated exclusively with attorneys.

    Mysterious Origin

    • While the origin of esquire is known, it is actually still a mystery as to how it became associated only with the legal profession in America.

    Unisex Use

    • Unlike the original English usage, the title of esquire is appropriate for both male and female attorneys.

    Title by Assumption

    • Esquire is not really an official title for lawyers, only a customary one. It's assumed by the profession, but not actually conferred by any governmental agency or authority.

    Ethical Issues

    • The various state bars throughout the nation have rules regarding who can use esquire. For instance non-practicing attorneys, attorneys whose licenses are in inactive status, or law school graduates who have yet to pass the bar may be precluded from using "Esq."

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