Q: When writing to someone who claims the title “Esquire,” I was taught to leave off the designations Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Also, what is the proper usage of Esquire when sending an invitation to a couple?
A: “Esquire” is a professional designation in the legal arena, not a social designation. When you correspond with a lawyer, you have two choices: Write the person using a normal salutation (“Mr. Robert Jones” or “Ms. Cynthia Adams”) or put “Esquire” after the name, using the abbreviated form (“Robert Jones, Esq.” or “Cynthia Adams, Esq.”). You would never use both the courtesy title of Mr. or Ms. and the professional designation of Esquire. Finally, when writing to a lawyer and his or her spouse, never use “Esq.” Instead, address the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones.”