Lawyers don’t really have a uniform convention about titles and honors. Lawyers sometimes use the title “esquire” to denote themselves and other lawyers, and I wrote an article a few years ago about some situations when lawyers should and should not use this honor. In response to this article, I received dozens of emails, some with different titles that lawyers often refer to as different lawyers in different parts of the country. In my experience, the term “advisor” is a great honor when referring to other lawyers and more lawyers should use this title when referring to other lawyers.
The first time someone called me a consultant was when I was studying law. Of course, the person using the term was just joking when they addressed me with that honorary title since I wasn’t a lawyer yet, but I kind of liked the way that title sounded. Advisor seems like a friendly term that can be considered less sophisticated than esquire, which might sound out of date to some.
Additionally, the advisor is preferable to the Esquire and other honors as it is far more telling about what lawyers actually do. In response to my previous article, several people emailed me with reasons as to why lawyers sometimes call each other and ask themselves. Some said it was because a squire appeared to have helped a knight in ancient times, just as lawyers help clients in the present. This seems rather toned down and confusing.
However, a lawyer is someone who advises and advises clients. As a result, calling an attorney an advisor is much more meaningful than esquire and other similar titles. In addition, in some states they are referred to as advisors in the official legal title. For example, attorneys under New York law are referred to as “attorneys and legal advisors.” In Empire State and other places with similar titles, referring to an attorney as an advisor is only a descriptive way of referring to an attorney.
The use of this descriptive honorific title can have a number of positive advantages in legal practice. For one, calling another lawyer can make the lawyers more friendly. As lawyers very well know, the legal profession is often a controversial profession. Regardless of whether attorneys represent clients in litigation or transactional matters, attorneys often need to poke heads to advance the interests of their clients.
Typically, however, lawyers need to make good contact and compromise in order to get the best results for their clients. The vast majority of lawsuits are resolved without ever being settled by a jury, and transactional matters often require give and take, which is much easier when lawyers get along. Calling adversaries and other lawyers that you interact with as a consultant can go a long way in de-escalating issues and building a relationship between lawyers. Most attorneys value being called honorable and when that title is used it usually means that the person saying the honorary title is not an idiot, although they may have to be controversial with another lawyer. As a result, calling a legal advisor and extending other courtesies can go a long way in helping attorneys achieve the greatest possible success for their clients.
Hiring another attorney also goes a long way toward raising the profile of the legal profession. As mentioned in a previous article, I recently watched all of the episodes of the Australian legal show Rake, and although the practices and procedures in Australia are different from those in the US, the show is still very interesting. The show features lawyers calling themselves “friends” or “sister” or “brother” in court to demonstrate that the legal industry is a worthy profession and that basic courtesies are given to people for practicing law too. I know it is common in certain parts of the country to use similar sentences in court, but I rarely see this in New York and New Jersey. In all fairness it seems strange to call another lawyer “brother” or “sister” when they are also members of the bar (and one of my brothers is actually my legal partner!). Calling a legal advisor, however, is an easy, gender-neutral way to add dignity to legal practice.
Additional judges can also call an attorney in the courtroom. It is always appreciated when judges use this title when referring to attorneys as it shows that respect is two-way in a courtroom. Judges almost always practiced law before getting on the bank, and they should understand the difficulties lawyers face in dealing with clients and making a living. Judges can identify attorneys’ difficulties by calling them a title rather than a mrs or mr. Many judges call on legal counsel, but other judges do not use this honor. However, judges can improve the profile of the legal profession, and possibly even improve decency in the courtroom, by using this title to describe lawyers who appear before them.
Of course, there are many practical reasons for using the term advisor. Sometimes in court it can be difficult to tell who a lawyer is and who is an assistant, witness, or other participant in a lawsuit. The use of the word advisor makes it clear who the lawyer is on a team. In either case, the use of the term advisor will benefit lawyers and more lawyers should use this award when referring to other lawyers.
Jordan Rothman is a partner at Rothman Law Firm, a full-service law firm in New York and New Jersey. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website that discusses how he paid off his student loan. You can contact Jordan by email at [email protected]