There are numerous. I'm looking for anyone that could list them and answer what all mean and what they entail.

For example, ESQ, P.A., PLLC, etc.

1 Answer 1


"Esq" Is short for "Esquire" which was once the lowest level of the English system of titles for nobility and gentry (originally an esquire was a sort of apprentice knight, and later it indicated that a person was a "gentleman" but without any higher title) Lawyers started using it to indicate that although paid professionals, they claimed a social status above that of tradesmen and shopkeepers. It is now largely obsolete, but some lawyers still use it.

Most of the other initials refer to the form of business organization that a lawyer or law firm uses. More specifically:

  • "PA" means "professional association" a form of organization which reduces the individual liability of members of the firm. See this q&A A pay is in many ways similar to a corporation or an LLC.

  • "PLLC" means "professional limited liability company" which is a version of an LLC used specifically by groups of doctors and lawyers.

  • "PLC" like "PLLC" means "professional limited liability company". The two terms are interchangeable when used for law firms, but PLC is also used for a Public Limited Company, which is a quite different sort of thing, and will not be a lawyer or law firm.

  • APC, A.P.C., PC, P.C., and Prof. Corp. all stand for "Professional Corporation" a form of organization which is similar to a PLLC.

  • "LLP" means "Limited Liability Partnership" a variation on the classic partnership organization.

  • "SP" means "Sole Proprietorship", that is one lawyer working alone.

None of these tell you anything about the kind of law a lawyer or firm does. None except SP tell you anything about how many lawyers a firm has. And none tell you anything about how competent a lawyer is.

For the most part, none of these terms is of any importance to a client or would-be client of a lawyer or law firm. Reputation of the specific firm is far more important.

  • 6
    A few more: J.D. or L.L.B. stand for Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Laws, which are the names of the equivalent first professional degrees conferred by law schools on future lawyers (usually a three year degree without a thesis taken after a B.A. or B.S. and earned by 99% of U.S. lawyers before taking the bar exam). Often this is used by someone with a law degree who has not been admitted to the practice of law, or has been disbarred, in lieu of Esq. An S.J.D. is an academic law degree equivalent to the PhD. and confers the honorific Dr. just as an M.D. or PhD would.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 21, 2021 at 19:25
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    How can one get to know the reputation of a law firm and their record for good advice?Its funny, I see Google reviews and most are just 5/5 most of the times.
    – LeanMan
    Dec 21, 2021 at 20:49
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    @LeanMan That can be tricky. Online reviews are sometimes helpful, often not. Sites like Angie's list are IME more useful than google. Asking other lawyers may be useful. The BBB is sometimes helpful. Asking for referrals to past clients with similar sorts of problems may be useful..I used to have a friend who had been a lawyer and was, when I knew him. an administrative law judge. He was able to suggest a law firm of proper type and good rep when I needed legal services, but not everyone has such a friend. Dec 21, 2021 at 21:07
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    @ohwilleke there are only two periods in LL. B. The two Ls Grove from the Latin practice of using two letters when the word being abbreviated is plural, as in the Spanish abbreviation for the United States and in qq. v., the plural of q. v. There are also LL. M. and LL. D.
    – phoog
    Dec 22, 2021 at 15:35
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    I think "Grove" in my previous comment was meant to be "derive." I also meant to include the Spanish abbreviation for the United States, which is EE. UU.
    – phoog
    Dec 22, 2021 at 21:08

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