Five Reasons Esq. = Douchebag

Nearly one quarter of all Bitter Lawyer readers are douchebags. This according to the other 75 percent, who said they wouldn’t dare use the dreaded—and hopelessly tacky—Esq. suffix.

But why exactly is Esq. synonymous with douchebag? We think the evidence speaks for itself.

1.  D-Bag on Wheels

BMW + Esq. = 5 Series Douche Bag


2.  Bill and Ted’s D-Bag Adventure

Even Keanu knows better than to use Esq.


3.  D-Bag Forum

Tough crowd, if you’re a D-Bag.


4.  Wiki-D-Bag

Email to Bitter Lawyer (12/11/08): It’s sad that one-fourth of your readers have such crappy research skills they couldn’t manage to look this up on Wikipedia.

If those readers had used Wikipedia (sad that someone called that “research”), they would have found the following:

Regardless of to whom it is applied, the term “Esq.” should not be used when talking about oneself, or in directly addressing somebody else. The abbreviation is never to be put on one’s own name—as on a business card or stationery—nor should it be used with any other title, such as Mr. or Ms.


5.  The D-Bag-less Magazine

It’s a magazine cool enough to feature Angelina Jolie on its cover; but it’s not about lawyers.  And regardless, even a magazine called Esquire doesn’t use Esq.


Check out other lists, tallies and scores to settle in Bitter by Numbers.

Bitter Staff is a collection of current and former editors, contributors, and various other lawyers who have written for Bitter Lawyer over the years. Posts include interviews, contests, and other general lawyerly and bitter content.


  1. Al Dickman

    December 13, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Yes, I agree.  As a lawyer, I would also dub anyone similarly situated as a dillweed who went around calling themself a “DOCTOR” just because they earned themselves a JD (Juris Doctor).  We’re no more doctors than the man in the moon.  It is bad enough when the university professor asswipes with their dumb PhD’s in whatever go around calling themselves DOCTOR.  What a bunch of dorks they are!  I wouldn’t trust them to figure out the square root of 9.  Anyway, good to have a place to vent.  Keep up the good work, BL!

  2. Dickman Fan

    December 13, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    As always, Al is right on the money.

  3. Anonymous

    December 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm


  4. Josh McHugh

    December 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Almost as bad is when a self-help author lists himself on the book jacket as “Dr. Rabbit Bartholomew, M.D.” or “Dr. Randy Savage, Ph.D.”

  5. BL1Y

    December 15, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Only acceptable to use if your name is Meriadoc Brandybuck.

  6. Almost as bad?

    December 15, 2008 at 8:18 am

    I’ve got to say it’s way worse.

  7. Ex-BigLaw

    December 15, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Actually, while obnoxious on license plates, etc., it’s useful to use Esq. in your email and other correspondence to make sure it gets flagged for privilege in discovery.

  8. BL1Y

    December 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Ex-Biglaw: Was your e-mail signature not satisfactory?  I would think “Biglaw Q. McDouchebag, Partner, McDouchebag Scroatberg & Tainstein LLP” would be a good enough flag.  MSOutlook will do this for your automatically on all your e-mails.  Does the extra “Esq” really help?

  9. Anonymous

    December 15, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Ex-BigLaw is reason number six.

  10. Ex-BigLaw

    December 15, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    If you’ve got a signature in all messages, then yeah, it should in theory be enough if you’re the sender, but a lot of people don’t – it’s often there only if they’re first author in the thread, etc.  This also doesn’t account for when you’re the recipient rather than the sender – if the name in the mail server directory includes Esq., then you can catch a lot of those too (esp. from Employee X to In-House Y).  You’ll know what I mean if you manage production of a few million pages for a company with hundreds of in-house & outside lawyers – Esq. in the From: or To: line of a message is a useful way to make it easy for doc reviewers to spot potentially privileged messages.

  11. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 12:08 am


  12. BL1Y

    December 16, 2008 at 7:05 am

    If you can’t figure out how to add an MSOutlook signature (and set it to appear in replies and forwarded e-mails), then you really think they’re going to figure out how to change the name that shows up to include Esq?  Only a giant tool would ever Esq appear in their name in an e-mail.  I see why you didn’t hack it in big law.  (Cue: “I left for a more enjoyable (lower-paying) job.”)

  13. Ex-BigLaw

    December 16, 2008 at 10:07 am

    You guys are classic!  Classic net troll, that is – attack the poster if you can’t address the point.  I DID use a signature and my own text name did not include Esq.  (Oh, and I make more than my BigLaw salary was, working less hours – good luck arranging the same. You must be a great and desirable lawyer with your astute observational skills!  Have fun in insurance defense.) For my own part, the flag was not necessary, since all of the firm’s external emails automatically had the confidentiality message added at the end by the server. The point was that an organization, especially a large one with lots of lawyers, should do something to make sure as many of the to/from legal emails are flagged as possible, and signatures are often not sufficient – whether it’s Esq., or something else added to the names or message text (some clients add “(Legal)”).  It’s often the IT dept that sets this up, so that brainless so-called lawyers who can’t even set up an email client properly can’t F it up (the same sort of people who don’t consider that an IT dept. might be involved…).  If you haven’t had to produce millions of documents trying to screen for messages to/from hundreds of different lawyers, then you fail to understand the scope of the problem.  I, for one, having had to screen for them and manage a team of others doing so, was happy when one of the lawyers added Esq. to his sender name, because it made it easier to flag those messages.  Now back to billing for you!

  14. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    IT. Ishmmm

  15. Patrick

    February 24, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I find the “Esq” debate very funny. In England, we don’t use that title to denote lawyers. It is a term for a gentleman (in the victorian meaning of the word) or son of a noble man who has not yet received any title of his own. The only usage of this in our times is old-fashioned Gentlemen’s clubs (the Jeeves&Wooster;type club, not a strip club) some of which still address letters to “A. Member Esq.”.

  16. Anthony

    April 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    The only place I use it is my checks because NY State Courts won’t accept a personal check unless it has the Esq. or something equivalent on it. I suppose they think lawyers are somehow more trustworthy or that a regular person couldn’t just have the same thing printed on their checks, but that’s another story. However, it is not on my email signature, nor do I use it unless it is imposed on everyone in a signature block.

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