“Esquire” Has Many Meanings, Says Suspended Attorney

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Written By admin at Thursday, August 23rd, 2012


A California attorney facing disbarment for repeatedly representing himself as  a lawyer while his law license was suspended has set forth a novel argument for doing so.

“Esquire”–a title that in the U.S. is typically accorded to lawyers–has multiple meanings, John Mark Huerlin of Tustin told the State Bar Court of California.

Among them: “that of property owner and subscriber to the magazine Esquire,” according to this August opinion from the court’s review department (h/t to Legal Profession Blog).

When it comes to the word esquire, Mr. Huerlin may have a point. Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines it:

1. a member of the English gentry ranking below a knight

2. a candidate for knighthood serving as shield bearer and attendant to a knight

3. used as a title of courtesy usually placed in its abbreviated form after the surname <John R. Smith, Esq.>

4. archaic : a landed proprietor

But the State Bar was unconvinced and recommended that Mr. Huerlin be disbarred, saying his use of “Esquire” was part of a wider pattern of misrepresentation.

The review team  noted that he has been disciplined by the California bar four times since he was admitted in 1985, and that he included references to himself as “attorney” and to the “Law Offices of John M. Heurlin” in pleadings and  correspondence to opposing counsel, despite having been specifically told to stop some six years earlier.

From the Aug. 7 opinion:

 This is not a lone instance of inadvertently holding oneself out as entitled to practice. Rather, Heurlin repeatedly and consciously flouted the authority of the courts of record by continuing to file pleadings misrepresenting himself as a licensed attorney in good standing and entitled to practice law when clearly he is not.

Mr. Huerlin could not be reached for comment.

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