What is the Difference Between JD vs ESQ?

The law can be confusing. Legal terms can be even more confusing. For instance, when you see a person practicing law, do you call that person a juris doctor (JD) or an esquire (ESQ)? What is the difference between JD and Esq? To fully discriminate the two terms, it is essential to do some research. It’s a good thing that you can find almost anything on the Internet, but this article should provide specific advice and awareness to clarify the confusion over these two terms.

Definition of JD

How is JD defined? JD is an acronym for a doctorate in law or jurisprudence. The definition of JD can be described by the study of law. First, one must know that there are several types of Doctor of Law degrees. Having a JD is one of them, and it means having a professional Bachelor of Laws degree.

A person who intends to obtain a JD type degree must first obtain an undergraduate degree, which may or may not be related to the legal profession. Then, after graduation, the person may pursue a JD program. This degree can be achieved by completing it in one of the common law or jurisprudence countries. In order to use this degree, its holder must pass a bar exam. In the US, the evaluation must be done by state or location.

This means that if you wish to pursue a legal career in New York state, you have to pass the “bar” in that state. In other countries, the assessment must be passed only once to allow you to pursue a legal career in that country. Different countries have different requirements, so it will be wise to determine what is needed to be guided accordingly. JD could then be added as a suffix to the name when the profession is officially confirmed.  

Definition of ESQ

Esq is similarly a contraction of another word, Esquire. In the UK, Esquire is used as a gallantry title for high-ranking people in society. However, in the US, the definition of esq is a legal one. It is attributed to a lawyer, and the characters esq are used as a suffix added to the professional’s name to indicate his or her profession.

Therefore, if a person named John Smith is a lawyer, he can sign his name as John Smith, esq., and the public will already know of his profession. This postfix can be added to a lawyer’s name regardless of gender. However, it is considered as goof if addressed as a squire. This expression is meant to accredit another person.

It is also recommended that it be used to refer to an attorney-at-law who has already acquired a license, but not to refer to a law student or a law graduate who hasn’t passed the bar. In other words, esq is a method of addressing a licensed lawyer in an ornate manner.

Main Differences Between JD vs ESQ

Now that the definitions have been laid out, how does one differentiate between these terms? The table below presents the main differences between them in order to provide more guidance.

Basis of ComparisonJDEsq
Expanded formJuris doctorEsquire
Educational LevelLaw degreeLaw degree and license to practice
UseCourtesy/ professional callingCourtesy/ professional calling
Alternative definitionA holder of a law degreeA bestowed individual

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between JD vs ESQ

JD vs Esq – these are different ellipses, but they could serve the same purpose – to assign a lawyer or a legal counsellor or as title suffix. A JD could be a law graduate or a legal practitioner. An esquire can only be used to relegate an attorney-at-law. However, it is essential to note that the placement of these suffixes in a person’s name does not necessarily make a difference in that individual’s level of education.

Additionally, it does not follow that he or she is legally certified to use it in practice. In conclusion, when choosing a lawyer to represent you, you should apply for a state bar registration number or a license number and verify the person’s public record for the absence of misconduct or unscrupulous act.