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Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:20 pm
by You Gotta Have Faith
Typically when I write an employer or an attorney with whom I want to network, I address them as Mr./Ms. So and So. But when they reply and consistently use their first name... and when they call you and say "hey this is (First Name)," is it then okay to start calling them by their first name? They are a much more senior attorney (say 60+ years of age) and they have been mute on a preference.

I'm just looking for a general rule of etiquette here. Is there a guiding rule that I should bear in mind? Would it be considered too informal or rude to start saying "Hey Ted" or "Hey Barbara"? I feel like this should be a really simple question that I just haven't come to an answer with (or am being too uptight about). Any thoughts?

Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:27 pm
by NonTradHealthLaw
*Qualifier - these are the rules for science/academia when PhDs are addressed

No, you shouldn't use their first name, especially if you haven't met in person. Email makes a person feel more familiar than is merited. Stick with the formal until 1) you are requested to electronically call them by their first name; 2) you've met and they correct you when calling them Mr. X, Ms. X, Prof. X; 3) you have passed the bar.

Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:37 pm
by dood
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Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:39 pm
by Cardboardbox
I agree with dood. Assuming it's the same in Law as it is in Business, once they use their first name it's fair game to use it as well, just don't get to casual immediately.

Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:40 pm
by Miniver
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Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:09 pm
by You Gotta Have Faith
Thanks for the replies everyone. Obviously, I wasn't actually going to say "Hey Ted" in a hyper casual manner. Just a random nonsense casual example, I guess, haha.

In any case, the majority view here seems to be that once they use their first name, you can use it as well. But don't get too casual too quickly. I think that's probably what I'm going to go with.

My only thing is... doesn't everyone reply using their first name? Even judges often say, "I'm Bob Smith" when being introduced, but everyone knows to call them Judge Smith in practice. It seems like it would be only an egotistical attorney who would actually reply back and say, "excuse me, it's Mr/Ms." Just wondered if there was a similar unspoken rule for senior partners. But there doesn't seem to be as far as I can tell.

Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:16 pm
by Grizz
The safe way is just to call them Mr./Mrs. Such-and-so until they correct you. Many attorneys I talk to on the phone immediately say something to the effect of "Please, just call me Joe Smith, you're making me feel old" or whatever. Age isn't a good indicator, usually. I've had at least one old (60+) attorney tell me to address him by his first name, and much younger ones that prefer Mr. Ultimately, you it's hard to go wrong with calling people Mr./Mrs.

Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:22 pm
by You Gotta Have Faith
rad law wrote:The safe way is just to call them Mr./Mrs. Such-and-so until they correct you. Many attorneys I talk to on the phone immediately say something to the effect of "Please, just call me Joe Smith, you're making me feel old" or whatever. Age isn't a good indicator, usually. I've had at least one old (60+) attorney tell me to address him by his first name, and much younger ones that prefer Mr. Ultimately, you it's hard to go wrong with calling people Mr./Mrs.


hmm... ya, that too is credited. That's what I have been doing to date. Hoped there might be a way that comes across as not-so-distant. I guess each attorney is different.

Re: Addressing Employers and Attorneys

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:24 pm
by Grizz
You Gotta Have Faith wrote:
rad law wrote:The safe way is just to call them Mr./Mrs. Such-and-so until they correct you. Many attorneys I talk to on the phone immediately say something to the effect of "Please, just call me Joe Smith, you're making me feel old" or whatever. Age isn't a good indicator, usually. I've had at least one old (60+) attorney tell me to address him by his first name, and much younger ones that prefer Mr. Ultimately, you it's hard to go wrong with calling people Mr./Mrs.


hmm... ya, that too is credited. That's what I have been doing to date. Hoped there might be a way that comes across as not-so-distant. I guess each attorney is different.


There are many attorneys that I address as "Mr." who aren't distant at all, so I guess in my experience it hasn't really been much of an indicator. I wouldn't worry about it too much honestly haha.