Please pardon my excessive verbosity and/or the repetition of words/sentences today again but I think this is very important and I need to pass on this information with clarity. In Sierra Leone, generally, people have this misconception that only lawyers (qualified Barristers and Solicitors) must be referred to as ESQUIRE. In fact, majority believed that it is a title conferred on lawyers and some lawyers in Sierra Leone think that it is an insult if you don’t refer to them as “Esquire“. Well if they do, then sorry to say that they are UNINFORMED. It’s not only good to “study” the law but it’s also good to “learn” the law. (Please note that there is a difference between studying the law and learning the law) and please be reminded that this is not an insult to our esteemed legal practitioners (duya mek posin nor say na cuss ar cuss). But the fact is, nowadays, everybody and anybody can be called an “Esquire” even though historically the honorific title was reserved for certain classes of people in the UK. But now, whether the person is an Accountant, Engineer, Teacher or whatsoever, you have the right to extend courtesy to them using “Esq”. Don’t worry, you’ll not be prosecuted by the General Legal Council or by anyone for referring to someone as an “Esquire” when that person is not a lawyer.

Also note that, even if someone uses “Esq” as an honorific or a courtesy title to refer to another lawyer, that lawyer should never and must never use the term “Esq” to refer to him/herself. In other words, the title “Esq” should be a courtesy one extends to others and not to refer to yourself. It means you do not have to print a complementary card or display your name in any form using the “Esq” title. Just put your name and your academic qualifications only without using “ESQ”.

One may be tempted to ask again, where does this Esq stuff all started. It actually started in the UK around the 1600s and men of higher rank especially men above the rank of “Gentleman” and below the rank of “Knight” were accorded respects by referring to them as “Esquires”. However, In the 20th century, people started using the title as a general courtesy to anyone and anybody as a suffix to a name with no precise significance.

Although in the United States, the Esquire is commonly used among members of the legal profession but there is absolutely NO AUTHORITY or LAW that reserves the title “Esq” for only lawyers to use in the United States. Let me also make it emphatically clear that, in the United States, Attorneys (as lawyers are called in the US) use the “Esquire” to extend a courtesy to another Attorney. They do not necessarily refer to themselves as “Esquire” (for d banbai jisnor, mek somebodi nor say na United States we learn from ) This is because the title “Esq” does not legally designate an individual as a lawyer as it is not confered on anyone in any country as an academic degree or license to become a lawyer.

What baffles or behooves my mind most is the self acclamation by lawyers whenever the want to introduce themselves or they are writing articles, notices, official letters, etc they say for eg “I am Chenko Esq” or “Yours truly Chenko Esq”. Although it’s funny but it’s somehow serious as you do not have to do that. It’s like saying for eg “I am Mr. Chenko” or “yours truly Mr. Chenko” and we all know that Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss is a courtesy one extends to others and not necessarily to use when referring to yourself. The same applies to “Esq”. And please note that you cannot used Esquire as a courtesy title together with Mr., Ms etc Eg. (Mr. Chenko Esq is wrong).

If you know that titles like “gentleman”, “Mr/Ms”, are honorific or courtesy titles that anybody can be referred to, then you must also know that “Esq” is an honorific and courtesy title that anybody can be referred to, whether you are a lawyer, accountant, teacher, Medical Doctor, Politician, lecturer etc (absolutely everybody).

In Sierra Leone, qualified Barristers and Solicitors are only required by law to refer to themselves as  “Legal Practitioners” as stated in s35(1a) of the Legal Practitioners (Code of Conduct) Rules 2010 or they can refer to themselves according to the connotative titles stated in s36(2) of the Legal Practitioners (Code of Conduct) Rules 2010 which is “Lawyer or Legal Practitioner” after his/her name. Also, one may also refer to him/herself as “Senior Advocate” or use the designation “SA” after his/her name ONLY after being conferred upon by the “Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee” which is headed by the Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The rank or the title Senior Advocate “SA” shall only be conferred on a person by the Committee if he/she has practiced law for twelve (12) years and with fifteen (15) standing as a Legal Practitioners as stated in s52(2) of the Legal Practitioners Act 2000

I know some of our learned friends love to showcase their “Majiji style” to the public. Save for only Sierra Leone, there is nowhere in the world where a lawyer would refer to him/herself as “Esquire”. I have never seen a Ghanaian, Nigerian, South African, The Gambian, United States, or a UK qualified lawyer referring to him/herself as “Esq” except in Sierra Leone where many lawyers do it. But that still doesn’t make it right and it’s still not correct. Do not be bamboozle, using the courtesy title to refer to oneself is pretentious. The best way to be recognized as a lawyer is to be a good one.

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