How to Address a Juris Doctor

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After graduating from law school, lawyers are given their juris doctor (JD) degree and can become a member of the bar associate to practice law. Just because their degree has "doctor" in it, though, does not mean that they should be addressed as such. Unlike medical professionals and professors with advanced degrees, lawyers do not actually use the title of doctor.

  • Address an individual by "Mr.," "Mrs." or "Ms." in all social or informal correspondence. This is the most socially acceptable way to address people in conversation as well.

  • Use the title "Esquire" or "Attorney at Law" after a lawyer has passed her bar exam. These titles are used only in written correspondence, not in spoken language. The title "Esquire" is listed after a lawyer's name, whereas the title "Attorney at Law" is listed directly below the lawyer's name on the next line of text.

    Examples:

    "John Smith, Esquire"

    or

    "John Smith

    Attorney at Law"

  • List names of a married couple separately when one spouse has a juris doctorate and their other does not. If both names are known, write them out on one line like "Mr. John Smith, Esquire and Mrs. Jenny Smith." Or, if the wife's name is unknown, combine the salutation to read "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Esquire."

  • Always use the most formal appropriate title until you have established a relationship with someone. After creating a relationship, more casual salutations such as "Dear John" or "Dear Mr. Smith" may be used.

Tips & Warnings

  • If a woman has a higher title than her husband, her name should come first when being addressed, as in "Mrs. Jenny Smith, Esquire and Mr. John Smith."

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References

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