If You’re a Lawyer, Please Start Calling Other Lawyers ‘ Counselors’
October 3, 2022
I have never understood why lawyers call each other ‘ counselors.’ It doesn’t make sense to me that I should be referred to as anything other than my name, whether I’m an attorney or not. After all, if somebody was getting married and called their fiancé’s family to invite them, would they say I’m inviting you on behalf of my fiancé; her family goes by the name of Counselor? No, of course not! So why do so many lawyers call each other ‘counselor’?
The Phrase We Use All The Time
In America, we have this formal way of saying lawyers and Counselors that don’t make any sense. We call them attorneys. Now you might say to yourself: well, it’s because attorneys represent their clients in court. But hold on for one second. Aren’t lawyers supposed to be counselors? Shouldn’t they be called counselors?
It sounds more professional and less impersonal. I’m not sure how this came about because the word attorney is much older than lawyer. And when the two words were first combined during the medieval ages, they meant the same thing. How did we just change from calling lawyers counselors? When do you think we transitioned from using an attorney as an adjective rather than a noun (i.e., what he does)?
Why We Stop Saying It
People stop using this word because of those angry TV lawyers. But if we wanted to be politer or if we wanted the lawyer-client relationship to feel less antagonistic, it would help to say this word more often. After all, it’s not like the other person is your adversary in every meeting with them.
Even though they’re your opponent in some cases, they are your ally in others and even then there are still other aspects that makeup who they are as a person that we ought to respect and honor just like anyone else who comes into our lives.
I think it can be useful to look at why we started saying counsel in place of council. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary dates it back to 1225. One reason is that lawyers are essentially translators. What you see on paper as your rights or debts is what they tell you they are and vice versa. If they did their job right, they translate your language into their language so that you know what is going on in these legal processes as best as possible.
How We Can Restore the Term ‘Counselor’?
1) Keep using it! Ask your colleagues if they are ready to commit to using the term counselor and commit yourself to use the term. If you have not been introduced in this way yet to another lawyer, ask your colleague which title he or she prefers for you.
2) Educate everyone. Offer classes or presentations at your school or law firm on how we can return counselor to its original meaning and use.
3) Employ social media campaigns that focus on the importance of counseling professionals as counselors, who heal not just clients but their communities too.
4) Establish legal mentoring programs. Mentorship is an important part of growth and healing.
What Kind of Impact Will This Change Have?
The legal community needs to make more concerted efforts to call each other by the term counselor. We are all in this together, and we need to work together as one for a better society. Studies have shown that people tend to pay more attention when they see words like teacher or doctor.
This means that lawyers Counselors who are called counselors seem more authoritative than those who are referred to as mere attorneys. It also serves as an extension of our responsibility to others because we have the power to uplift and change lives with the advice we provide.
Reasons Why Using ‘Counselor’ Will Benefit Everyone Involved
Using the word counselor instead of lawyer will help open up people’s mindsets about being able to get legal advice from sources outside of a law firm. This is more important today than ever as the legal profession continues to evolve with time. Another benefit of using the word counselor instead of a lawyer is that people are less likely to be threatened by those who might not have much experience practicing law yet but offer quality legal counseling services.
Lastly, using a counselor when talking about lawyers has an incredibly important effect on women in law – namely that it reflects an understanding that not all women are suited to being attorneys and reinforces the idea that there are many different ways one can serve their community in the legal field.
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