Esquire meaning in law in US, UK and Canada

Meaning of Esquire

The legal profession is a very revered profession with a rich history dating back to centuries, but like many professions it has jargons, some of which may mean something other than their usual use in writing and conversation. What is Esquire meaning in law and why do attorneys use esquire?.

In this article, we discuss the history, and the meaning of esquire in the legal profession, why lawyers have it at the end of their name and how it compares to other terms than may be cause for confusion.

Esquire meaning in law

Simply put, an esquire is a attorney in modern law parlance. Lawyers who have been called to the bar in their country or state are allowed to add the Esq. at the end of their name.

To be able to use esquire after one’s name, one must have attended a law school and graduated from same, written and passed the country or state’s bar exams and finally called to the bar.

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Graduating from a law school only qualifies one to be a Juris Doctor J.D not an attorney as law school graduation is not an authorization to practice law and therefore cannot add esquire after their name unless they have passed the bar exam and called to the bar.

Esquire meaning in UK

Historically, Esquire was an English non-royal title given to a male member ranked below a knight but above a gentleman in the English gentry rankings.

Why do lawyers use Esquire?

Esquire has become the preserve of practicing lawyers in the modern world. Lawyers use esquire as a title of respect and nobility for getting called to the bar of their practicing jurisdiction. The term also distinguishes attorneys from other legal professions.

What does Esquire mean in Canada?

Canada being a common law country, inherited many of her legal structures and tenets from English law including the modern meaning of some legal terms.

The meaning of Esquire in Canada, is therefore a term used to address an attorney at law in Canada. One must have graduated from law school and passed the bar exam to become an esquire in Canada.

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Esq vs JD

An esquire is a person who has graduated from an accredited law school, written and passed the state or country’s bar exams and have been called to the bar.

On the other hand, a JD (Juris Doctor), is simply a person who studied law at the university and has successfully graduated but hasn’t written the bar exams or hasn’t passed the bar exams.

When to use esquire

Attorneys usually don’t refer to themselves as esquire in casual conversations. The title is normally used in official correspondence and as ethics of legal practice would have it, lawyers are to accord other lawyers with respect and courtesy by addressing each other by the esquire title during a case.

The proper way of writing a lawyer’s name is by writing their full name followed by a comma and then adding Esq. with the dot. example: John Doe, Esq.

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It must be noted that when an attorney is addressed with the title esquire in writing, it is proper to drop titles such as Mr. or Mrs. Example: John Doe, Esq. instead of Mr. John Doe, Esq.


Esquire meaning in law differs from the historic use of the word. Lawyers are required to meet meet certain educational and professional requirements to be get the esquire title added to their name such as completing an accredited law school, sitting for the state or country bar exam and passing it.

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