Friday, January 18, 2013

I Have a JD. I Want to Be Called Doctor Too.

Dr. Tyson I Presume?
Some humor to end your work week: Every one seems to refer to themselves as a doctor these days.  You have Doctor Who, Dr Laura, Dr. Pepper, Dr. J., and Doc Gooden.  Preachers refer to themselves as doctors. Pugilist Muhammad Ali has an honorary doctorate.  So does Tim Allen, Bob Barker, Clint Eastwood, Patti LaBelle, Gloria Estefan, Dolly Parton and Englebert Humperdink.  Even highschool dropout Mike Tyson has one. So you're telling me that Humperdink and my chiropractor can refer to themselves as doctors, but I can't?  I see the word doctor after the word juris on my diploma. Why can't I call myself a doctor too?  At least I think it's on my diploma.  It's in Latin.  Latin is all Greek to me.

Dr. Englebert Humperdink
Readers of this blog may recall that a significant portion of my practice comes from the Polish community.  Polish clients refer to me respectfully as "Pan Mecenas."  That translates roughly to "Sir Attorney." In Connecticut, it is standard for someone to refer to their lawyer as Attorney "so and so."  I understand that many states do not afford their practitioners even that courtesy.  It bears noting that the first academic doctorate degrees were law degrees.  I say it's time we got our mojo back.  Now, I understand the ethical concerns.  You don't want prospective clients thinking a personal injury attorney is a medical doctor.  As lawyers we need to stay away from self laudation.  Nevertheless, I think we deserve an occasional pat on the back. When you ask a mother what she wants her kid to be when they grow up, undoubtedly the answer will be a lawyer or doctor.

Several years ago, the State Bar of Texas abandoned its stance on lawyers referring to themselves as doctors in social or professional settings.  They reasoned that the title is not inherently false or misleading.  I say where Texas goes, so should the nation.  Remember the Alamo and all that.  I worked hard for my juris doctorate.  The years of trying to become invisible to my professors' Socratic pointing, the final exams, the hours of study, the bar exam, the relentless clients.  Do you know that in some European courts the attorneys get to wear long robes and medallions? It's bad enough they took away our powdered wigs.  I want the respect I deserve. Can't we get special hats or something?  If Bob Barker can refer to himself as a Doctor, why can't I get the same courtesy?  If not, at least let us start wearing powdered wigs again.  

(Update: I've been told I am not the only one.  There is now a facebook page dedicated to the topic. )

(Editors Note:  Although this is an tongue in cheek post , the individuals mentioned actually do hold doctorate degrees.  It is my understanding that Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd both received similar honors. )


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Anonymous said...

If you move south of the border, you can satisfy your need for the honorific "Doctor" or if you start speaking Spanish and helping Spanish-speaking clients, you will find many of them will refer to you as "Doctor." Also see the link below to Wikipedia's take on Latin American etiquette.

- Mo
"The Irreverent Lawyer" at

P.S. "The Nutmeg Lawyer" is still on my blogroll, although your posts have become infrequent and some of your own blogroll listings are pretty stale or dead. Best wishes!

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Doctorate and Doctor have big difference. Many People do not understand the differenc between these two words.

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It's in Latin. Latin is all Greek to me.qui tam lawyer

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