As a lawyer, writer, and plain English advocate, I enjoy seeing other lawyers’ business cards. The typical lawyer’s card features the lawyer’s name. Immediately below that you often see, “Attorney at Law.” Why is that? “Attorney” is a synonym for “lawyer.” That’s why you never see a business card that has “Attorney at Plumbing” on it. So why add “at Law” to the card? It’s unnecessary.
With this in mind, I decided I would simply use “Attorney” on my cards. And I did. But then one of my friends and colleagues, Jeff Cahn, did me one better. His cards have “Lawyer” rather than “Attorney” on them. He eliminated one syllable and used the word most lay people use when they refer to those in the legal profession. I liked that, a lot, so my new cards just say, “Lawyer” beneath my name.
I often see cards that have “Attorney and Counselor at Law” on them. Maybe an “Attorney and Counselor at Law” can charge more than a “Lawyer.” I don’t know.
Finally, I still see cards with “ESQ.” after the lawyer’s name. Hundreds of years ago in England, “Esquire” was a title of dignity above “gentleman” and below “knight.” It’s 2015. And we’re not in England. Maybe it’s time to for lawyers to allow “ESQ” to R.I.P.