How to address an attorney on an envelope

A 2009 report by the American Bar Association counted more than 1.18 million active attorneys in the United States, with the largest concentration (153,552) in New York compared to the 1381 in North Dakota. If you want to send a business letter to an attorney, there are two acceptable formats for the address: “Attorney at Law” and “Esquire.” You should not use “Mr.” or “Ms.” before the person’s name when using the professional title of “Esquire” or the abbreviation “Esq.” after the name.

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1 Address to Attorney at Law

2 Followed

Type “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by the full name of the lawyer on the first line of the address.

Type “Attorney at Law” on the second line of the address. Type the name of the attorney’s law firm, company or governmental agency on the line under “Attorney at Law.” Add the street address on the next line with the city, state and ZIP code on the last line.

Type the salutation as “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” followed by the last name of the lawyer. Type a colon at the end of the salutation.

3 Address to Esquire

Type the lawyer’s full name followed by a comma. Type “Esq.” after the comma.

Type the name of the attorney’s law firm, company or governmental agency on the line under his name. Add the street address on the next line with the city, state and ZIP code on the last line.

Type the salutation starting with “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” followed by the last name of the lawyer. Type a colon at the end of the salutation.

How to address an attorney on an envelope

Attorneys work extremely hard to obtain a degree in law, therefore, it is imperative that due respect be given when addressing an envelope to them. In personal correspondence, a title is not generally used, but the proper title should be included on business and formal mail being addressed to a lawyer. Whether you are mailing out wedding invitations or sending a business form, display knowledge of proper etiquette by addressing your envelope appropriately.

Attorney at Law

Address the attorney recipient with the prefix Mr. or Ms., depending on gender.

Spell out the first and last name.

Go to the next line and write “Attorney at Law” directly beneath the name.


Put the first and last name of the lawyer on the first line of the addressee space on the envelope.

Do not use the prefix of Mr. or Ms.

Put a comma followed by Esq., which is the abbreviated form of Esquire, after the last name. Esquire is a title reserved for lawyers and is used in business communication to recognize their distinction. However, it is generally considered a breach of etiquette to address an envelope in this way if the purpose of communication is not a business matter.

If addressing an envelope to a couple, and only one of the recipients is a lawyer, list that person’s name first.

Like other members of a governor’s cabinet, all state attorneys general are addressed in writing as ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’. 80% are elected in a general election. 20% are appointed by their governor.

Envelope or address block of an email:
—- The Honorable
—- (Full Name)
—- Attorney General of (Name of State)
—- (Address)

—- Dear Mr./Madam Attorney General:
__—- (in the style of the attorney general of the USA)

—- Dear Attorney General (Surname):
-__— (more typical for state officials)

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.) The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—- #1) At right on desktops , at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones , is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—- #2) If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.) Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—- #3) If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question – but always change all the specifics.

How a party should address an envelope to an inmate depends on the correctional institution in which the inmate is being held. The party should look up the jail or prison in which the inmate is being held. The website of the correctional institution should contain specific instructions for addressing envelopes to inmates.

Handwrite and Use a Complete Name

The party should handwrite the sender’s and recipient’s names and addresses on the envelope. The party should write the inmate’s complete name and not use nicknames. The party should include the inmate’s identifying number from the correctional institution. For example, an inmate in a California state prison will have a California Department of Corrections (CDC) number. If the party does not have an identifying number for the inmate to whom she wished to write, she should call the correctional institution to request it.

Order Depends On the Institution

For the recipient’s address, the correctional institution’s rules determine which should be stated first, the inmate’s name and number or the name of the correctional institution. The order differs by institution. For example, the Leon County Detention Facility in Tallahassee, Florida provides the correct order is “Leon County Detention Facility, Inmate Name, (System Person Number).” The Springfield Municipal Jail in Springfield, Oregon provides the correct order is “Inmate Name and AIRS number, Springfield Municipal Jail.”

State the Correctional Institution

The party should provide the name and street address or post office box of the institution. The party should also provide the city, state, and zip code of the institution. The party should provide his name and return address on the envelope. A correctional institution may not deliver or hold inmate mail without a return address.

The street or physical address of the institution may be different than the mailing address of the institution. An inmate may be held at a specific facility within an institution. For example, for Wasco State Prison-Reception Center in Wasco, California, inmates are housed in facilities A through H. A party should provide the inmate’s last known housing in the address. Here is an example: “John Doe, CDC number, Wasco State Prison-Reception Center, Facility A, 701 Scofield Ave, P.O. Box 4400, Wasco, CA 93280.”

Do Not Use Labels or Tape

A correctional institution may remove labels before delivering the letter to the inmate. Without a return address, the inmate may not be able to reply to the sender. Some correctional institutions do not deliver envelopes with tape or stickers on or inside the envelope. A label may be considered a sticker.

Rules Differ for Immigrants and Juveniles

When sending a letter to a detainee at an immigration detention center, a party should provide the detainee’s full name followed by the last four digits of the detainee’s Alien Number (A-number). When sending a letter to a juvenile in a state detention program, a party should provide the name of the juvenile correctional facility in which the juvenile is being housed.

What Mail Won’t Be Accepted

Mail from a juvenile or adult inmate at a correctional facility, corrections-monitored facility or treatment center is usually not accepted. Mail from a person acting as a go-between for inmates may not be accepted. Mail between the victim of the crime for which the inmate is in custody may not be accepted.

Mail Is Opened and Inspected

Letters that fall under the category of general correspondence are usually opened and inspected for contraband before being forwarded to the inmate. Some correctional institutions classify mail as belonging to a category called “special incoming mail.” This type of mail can be opened only in the presence of the inmate. It also will be inspected for contraband.

When writing a letter or mailing a package it’s always best to know the exact address of the recipient to whom you are sending it to. When you do not know the address, but have another address where the person can be reached like their place of employment, their family or close friends, then you can address the package c/o–or “in care of” that third party.

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1 Purpose of A C/O

Having a package or letter sent to someone who no longer lives at an address could potentially lead to the return of the item as undeliverable. The purpose of using c/o, which stands for “in care of,” as part of an address is to provide a name that is attached to the address you are mailing to. In addition, it tells the postal customer who receives the item that it is not for them, but that they should give it to the other addressed recipient.

2 Various Uses

Using a c/o can be helpful in many ways. Two of those ways are, making sure packages and correspondence can be delivered to a person who has an address unknown to the sender and in helping some people stay organized. According to the United States Internal Revenue Service, some people receive important tax documents in care of their attorneys or accountants for use in their trusts, IRAs and other purposes.

3 Addressing the Envelope or Package

The proper way to address an envelope in care of another party is by placing the intended recipient’s name at the top of the address block and, on the next line, write “c/o” followed by the c/o party’s name. Under the c/o party’s name follow with the c/o party’s full address, as you would on a standard mailing address.

None of us know what situation we are going to face in our lives in the future. Probably the most unfortunate incident would be the incarceration of your loved one. It could be your friends or family members. Things are relatively easier if you know the prison where your friend or family member is. Whatever may be the case, keeping connected by mail or by phone is a great way to feel good even in these trying times.

Legal Mail

There needs to be a connection between a prison inmate and an attorney. This kind of mail is treated as confidential by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, provided that all conditions are met. The Legal mail facilities for inmates provide them:

  • With a right to communicate with their attorney or a law court. This correspondence is known as legal correspondence.
  • The mail that comes from the office of an attorney has to include the name of the attorney as well as the name and address of the law firm he is associated with.
  • Any mail coming from a court of law must have the source clearly indicated on the envelope.
  • No mail sent to or received from anybody on the approved visitor list can be treated as legal correspondence. This is treated as general correspondence.
  • The outgoing correspondence to the attorneys and courts must have the official designation of the addressee. If it does not meet this requirement it will be treated as general mail.
  • The most important requirement is the Legal mail stamp to identify it.

The Rules that Govern Inmate Mails

Any mail that is sent by an inmate undergoes stringent checking under Inmate mail rules. Such mails are inspected by the staff but the inmates are also provided assistance in sending mails.

The outgoing mail, marked as legal correspondence is not read by the staff but before sealing it is inspected for contraband in the presence of the inmate to determine that it has only legal paperwork. Following this the inmate seals the mail and signs the legal mail label. The Unit staff must also mark the envelope as approved and put his details on it before forwarding it to the mailroom. The inmates who have insufficient funds or are on the indigent list can be eligible for eight mailings which are paid for and they must submit a special mailing request along with the correspondence to avail of this assistance.

According to the Inmate mails rules and regulations the facilities make no exceptions to the acceptance of certain items when you are sentenced to the state prison.

  • Postage stamps and stamped envelopes not exceeding twenty
  • Five personal letters
  • Wedding bands of a certain value but no stones
  • Receipts, address books, business cards
  • Legal books and materials
  • One writing tablet
  • Religious medal but no stones
  • Medical devices, aids and prosthetics which have been checked by medical staff

The facilities will not accept:

  • Any mail when not sent through regular postal service
  • Cardboard plastics and laminated matter
  • Photos, colors, writing, symbols related to a gang
  • Drugs
  • Paper clips staples and glitter
  • Any items that have suspicious stains or markings
  • Letters or envelopes with stickers on them
  • Photographs without name and Personal File Number at the back

Receive All Mails by following Rules

Since every prisoner has the right to legal aid the Legal Mail Facilities ensure that any mail between an attorney and an inmate is treated as confidential. However, potential hazard has to be taken care of. The mail that is sent must not instigate the prisoner to violate any of the CDCR rules. There should be no metal included in any mail sent to an inmate. If any such metal is found then it will be removed in the presence of the inmate.

The mail from an attorney cannot be used for general correspondence which is unrelated to legal representation. The attorney must dissuade this as also send any correspondence which is to be forwarded to another person. Any such mail is to be returned to the inmate or destroyed and the attorney will decide whether it will be returned as confidential or non-confidential mail. This needs to be communicated to the inmate. The CDCR considers any such action of forwarding a mail as abuse of the legal mail privilege.

As far as newspapers, periodicals, and books are concerned, they have to come directly from the publisher. An attorney cannot send a book or magazine to help his client pass time.

Providing self addressed pre-stamped envelopes prevents economic bargaining which possession of postage stamps in excess may incur.

The parties are made aware of their entitlement to confidentiality of communications and there is no reason why they should claim lack of knowledge about how they must mark their mail to ensure confidentiality. To avoid any problem it is best to mark the mail as “confidential”

The same marking applies for transcripts and these should be sent through service providers who give a tracking number.

A prison litigation coordinator can be approached to sort out any confusion about the regulations.

It is best to enclose a receipt with details for the client to sign. A self-addressed, stamped envelope should accompany the same.

FDCPA Limits on the Envelope Containing a Collection Letter (1)

In a recent opinion, the Third Circuit Appellate Court held in
Douglas v.
Convergent Outsourcing
, that a debtor’s account number
that was not printed on the outside of the collection envelope but
was visible through a window, was considered a
violation of the FDCPA. Under the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”) a debt collector is prohibited fromusing
“any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address,
on anyenvelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the
mails.” 15 U.S.C § 1692f. In response to this
section of the statute, courts have held that a collection agency
may use its name on the envelope in addition to its address if the
name of the business does not indicate that it is in the business
of collecting debts. On the contrary, some courts have
allowed fo ra broader interpretation of the statute indicating a
collection agency may also include “benign language” on the outside
of the envelope including phrases suchas “priority letter,”
“immediate response requested” or “personal and

In Douglas v. Convergent Outsourcing, the consumer
filed a lawsuit under the FDCPA alleging the collection agency
violated the statute when it sent her a collection letterfor a
delinquent T-Mobil bill with her account number visible through a
clear window on the envelope. The issue before the court was
two-fold: first, wasi ncluding the account number on the
collection letter that was visible through a screen considered part
of the envelope; and second, was the account number”any language or
symbol, other than the debt collector’s address,”and thus
prohibited by the FDCPA? In favor of the plaintiff and in
support of the FDCPA, the appellate court responded with yes to
both questions.

Responding to the first question, the court held that it did not
matter that the account number did not actually appear on the
envelope. Visible through a screen that can be seen by anyone
should be considered the same as printing the account number
directly on the envelope for purposesof the FDCPA. Second,
the court held that Convergent’s choice to use an envelope with a
screen showing the debtor’s account number cannot be considered
benign. Making the account number visible through a window
goes against the purpose of the statute to protect debtors from an
invasion of privacy; and this disclosure of Douglas’ account number
is just that….an invasion which cannot be considered benign.

With all the new styles of invitations – i.e. seal and send, sep and send – , many are offered without inner envelopes.

The purpose of the inner envelope is to protect your invitation ensemble and keep things neatly organized. Its other purpose is to act as informal addressing of your invited guests and members of their family, and to make clear to your single guests that they may bring a guest.

But what if the invitation that you selected does not come with an inner envelope? What do you do now and how do you make clear as to whom you are inviting.

In the event that your invitation ensemble doesn’t come with an inner envelope, such as Pocket style or self-mailer invitations, you can make your intentions clear a couple of ways.

You can take the time to include the names on the outer envelope, example:

This doesn’t apply to your single friends or family, but you will find other alternatives to writing “and guest” on your outer envelope.

You can include an insert with the invitation. Do not use standard printer paper as your insert. Use a nice sturdy high quality paper or for an elegant touch, use translucent Vellum. Your insert should be just smaller than your invitation, listing the family member names or “and family”, as well as “and guest” for your single friends and family. If your single guests’ are in a relationship and you know their significant others name, include their name. It is a bit impersonal to add “and guest” if you know the name of the guest that will be accompanying them.

Another option would be to wrap the invitation with a paper belly band, including the names of those invited, “and family”, or “and guest” .

You can also fill in the “M” line on your response card with the name of the invited guest adding “and family or “and guest” which ever applies.

  • Mr and Mrs David Jones and family
  • Ms Carol Smith and Kevin Riley
  • Mr Ronald Cole and Guest

You can simply have a line on your response card reading

“Number of guests attending ____” (that will be)

If you are including meal options on your respond card include the phrase “Please indicate you meal choices”

This will make it clear that their family or additional guests are invited.

If your invitation choice is a Pocket, you can use the actual pocket as the inner envelope, writing the family members names (and Family) or the name of your invited guest along with “and Guest” or their name, if you know it.

How to address an attorney on an envelope

After graduating from law school, lawyers are given their juris doctor (JD) degree and can become a member of the bar associate to practice law. Just because their degree has “doctor” in it, though, does not mean that they should be addressed as such. Unlike medical professionals and professors with advanced degrees, lawyers do not actually use the title of doctor.

Address an individual by “Mr.,” “Mrs.” or “Ms.” in all social or informal correspondence. This is the most socially acceptable way to address people in conversation as well.

Use the title “Esquire” or “Attorney at Law” after a lawyer has passed her bar exam. These titles are used only in written correspondence, not in spoken language. The title “Esquire” is listed after a lawyer’s name, whereas the title “Attorney at Law” is listed directly below the lawyer’s name on the next line of text.

Examples: “John Smith, Esquire” or “John Smith Attorney at Law”

List names of a married couple separately when one spouse has a juris doctorate and their other does not. If both names are known, write them out on one line like “Mr. John Smith, Esquire and Mrs. Jenny Smith.” Or, if the wife’s name is unknown, combine the salutation to read “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Esquire.”

Always use the most formal appropriate title until you have established a relationship with someone. After creating a relationship, more casual salutations such as “Dear John” or “Dear Mr. Smith” may be used.

If a woman has a higher title than her husband, her name should come first when being addressed, as in “Mrs. Jenny Smith, Esquire and Mr. John Smith.”

Debt collection agents are known for sending borrowers who are past due on their loans a lot of mail. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has strict regulations governing what can and cannot be included on debt collection envelopes. With the exception of the debt collector’s address, a collector is prohibited from placing any language or symbols on a debt collection envelope. In fact, the collection agent cannot put its own name on an envelope unless it in no way indicates that the agency is in the debt collection business.
How to address an attorney on an envelope

The following cases demonstrate that having a collectors name on the envelope can violate the law:

  • The defendant violated the law by using the name “Judgment Enforcement Law Firm” on its collection envelopes. Keasey v. Judgment Enforcement Law Firm, PLLC, Case No. 1:13-CV-420 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 30, 2014)
  • The defendant’s envelope had the name “COLLECTION ACCOUNTS TERMINAL, INC.” on it. In holding that it violated the section 1692f(8), the court stated that “[t]he purpose of this specific provision is apparently to prevent embarrassment resulting from a conspicuous name on the envelope, indicating that the contents pertain to debt collection.” Rutyna v. Collection Accounts Terminal, Inc., 478 F. Supp. 980, 982 (N.D. Ill. 1979)

There has been a significant amount of litigation relating to debt collector’s envelopes. Some courts have recognized that a strict application of section 1692 could result in absurd results, which means they have held that benign language on debt collection envelopes does not violate the law.

When you receive a debt collection letter, you should look to see if the envelope contains language or symbols that could be embarrassing to you. Anything that discloses to other parties that the letter relates to debt collection could be a violation of the law. However, language such as “personal” or “confidential” on an envelope would likely be considered benign and not a violation of the law.

Whether you owe the debt or not, you deserve to be treated with respect and fairness. Contact our California Debtor Protection Law Firm with your questions, comments, and concerns, or for a free consultation. Speak to a CA credit card lawsuit and collection harassment lawyer at our firm today.