The Patriot Institute of Journalism and Arts (PIJA), Lance Magazine is a public-centric independent media organisation dedicated to fighting injustice, fostering social justice and community development through the telling and retelling of the marginalised-oriented stories.
Barrister Incorrect, How Should You Address Your Lawyer?
Have you ever wondered or worried how to address your lawyer? Like the appropriate title/prefix to add to their names? Whether to call them Mr, Miss, Ms, Mrs, Barrister, Lawyer, Esq,…?
I remember one neighbour of mine once asked me, many years back- “which is more correct to call you? Barrister Bushra or Lawyer Bushra?” and I said “Lawyer…” AT THE TIME
I felt “Lawyer…” was more appropriate because “Barrister….” is limiting. This is because Nigeria operates a fused legal system which implies that as a lawyer in Nigeria, you are qualified to practise as both a Barrister and a Solicitor.
What’s the difference? Or what’s the need to differentiate those two roles? It is because in some countries (jurisdictions), like in England that the Nigerian legal system “originated” from due to colonization, you can only be either a Barrister or a Solicitor, you can never be both.
A Barrister’s job is the advocacy, speaking on behalf of clients in the courts; while a Solicitor’s job is majorly clerical/ paper work, researching about a client’s case to give proper legal advice and outlining/analyzing the case before the Barrister goes to court to argue it.
So I guess it was bearing in mind these facts that I answered that “Lawyer…” was more appropriate.
BUT, the appropriate title for a lawyer is either Mr, Miss, Ms, or Mrs, as the case maybe; and in case the person has bagged a Doctorate Degree or is a Professor, Dr, Prof.
‘Barrister’ or ‘Lawyer’ is not a title to appear before a lawyer’s name.
It is not uncommon to find lawyers being addressed as ‘Esq.’ i.e. ‘Esquire’ which generically means ‘gentleman’ but wouldn’t it be weird to bump into your lawyer and say “Good morning Wilcox, Esq”? It is most appropriate to use while addressing letters or envelopes to a lawyer, and it’d appear “Wilcox, Esq.” or “Wilcox, Esquire”.
So, your lawyer is Mr Wilcox, or Miss, Ms, Mrs Wilcox, as the case may be.