The Legal Beat
Lawyers Calling Themselves ‘Doctor’ Is Still Stupid: Trump Lawyer Edition
Posted on Tuesday November 24, 2020
We’ve long taken the stance that, despite the technicality that a “J.D.” has the word “doctor” in it, lawyers who adopt the honorific are, well, jackasses.
And, yes, we understand that earning a J.D. technically requires more coursework than earning a Ph.D. But we don’t have to functionally write a book to earn our degrees. Even if you want to say a J.D. from Harvard is roughly equivalent as a marker of academic prowess as a Ph.D. from Bumblybuck State — and it might be! — don’t be a self-important jerk about it. You’ve got a profession, it’s an important one, everyone knows it’s an important one, have some dignity and just quietly go about being a lawyer.
If that’s not enough for you, go ahead and use “Esquire.” But even that is a little suspect.
At the end of the day, lawyers who insist on stealing academic valor and going by “Dr.” only succeed in proving that they’re so insecure — likely justifiably — about their own achievement that they need to bolster it with phony accolades.
So it will not surprise you at all to learn that “Elite Strike Team” member Jenna Ellis — who has spent the last week displaying the legal acumen of three cats wearing a trench coat and a wig — is the sort of person who uses “Doctor” in bios.
It’s possible that the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University is responsible for writing this, but Ellis certainly knows it exists and didn’t instantly shoot it down. She’s appeared in videos under the “Dr.” label since at least 2017.
Weirdly, this isn’t even the first time I’ve seen this kind of inflation in Christian academia. Years ago, there was a guy from a religious school who made everyone call him “Doctor” and had a bio up calling himself a “Doctor” and a record for a Ph.D. he’d earned, but when someone called the school to ask about his dissertation… it came out that there was no degree. At most institutions, that’s the sort of thing that would get someone fired. In this case, they just updated the bio to call him “Professor.” Because consequences really don’t exist in these circles.
At least Ellis really is a “Juris Doctor.” But it doesn’t make it any less stupid.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.