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Front Page - Friday, March 30, 2012

Under Analysis

Doctor or “Doctor?”

I’m a doctor. You didn’t know? Well, my law degree says “Juris Doctoris” (or at least I think it does. I’m pretty sure it’s in a box in the basement growing mold and looking like a third grader’s science project.) I’m also pretty sure that’s Latin for Doctor of Law, and not Doctorer of Juries, which would sound really bad. So I might not be a medical doctor, but I’m a doctor nonetheless.  If you don’t believe me, you should see my student loans. The balance on those is enough to make any doctor cringe.

Yep, as a lawyer, I am thus a doctor. Yet, when I get a wedding invitation, it isn’t addressed to Doctor Henderson-Newlin. When introduced at royal balls, the serf announcing my arrival will add “esquire” at the end of my name, but never thinks to begin with “doctor.”  In fact, I can’t recall any lawyer I know ever being called “doctor”, at any time or any place.

So why is it that lawyers aren’t called doctors?  Admittedly, the wedding invitations I receive are usually through an Evite entitled “We’re finally making it legal” so perhaps the moniker of doctor is a bit too formal. Still I’m quite certain that’s not the reason the honorific is left off.  The question is even more prescient when you consider all the other people who are called doctor, despite the lack of any medical education. Consider, for example:

Dr. Pepper

I’m not sure who he is, but I’m pretty sure Dr. Pepper isn’t a real doctor. Actually, I don’t even think he’s a real person, which is even more offensive. Apparently, a non-existent person can have the title of “doctor” just because of a product’s deliciousness, yet I can’t be called doctor even though I have the degree. (Okay, I might not physically have it in my possession, but I acquired it through hard work and, ironically, lots of Dr. Pepper.)

Dr. Scholl’s

My sophisticated search on Wikipedia says he’s a doctor, but I haven’t seen his credentials, and I think he’s bluffing about the doctor thing. I’m pretty sure “Dr. Scholl’s” is just an old man with horribly bad foot odor who figured out that mixing baking soda and fragrance cuts down on the offensive smells coming from his closet. He’s not so much of a doctor as a Captain Obvious.

Dr. Seuss

This guy really isn’t a doctor. In fact, he’s not even alive. To make matters worse, when he was alive, Seuss wasn’t even his real name. He was more than a bit odd, as he thought Horton the elephant could sit on a bird egg without crushing it. This isn’t a theory that screams medical professional. “Dr. Seuss” was just a crazy guy who liked to rhyme and draw cartoons that give adults nightmares (or at least this adult). Nothing about any of his writing suggests he was a doctor. In fact, nothing about his writing suggests he was sane (yet “Green Eggs and Ham” will always be one of my favorite books). If crazy people with strange rhyming abilities are doctors, then the homeless man outside my office building is most certainly a doctor and will now be referred to as Dr. Funnypants.

Doc Martens

Although these shoes are classic, and part of what made Seattle’s grunge scene so popular in the ’90s (along with Kurt Cobain’s luscious locks), the creator of these shoes is most certainly not a doctor. I don’t actually know this to be true, but I know that no medical doctor would create shoes that take five minutes to put on and cause carpal tunnel when lacing up the boots.

Doc from the Seven Dwarfs

This creepy little guy insisted on being called Doc, yet to my knowledge, he’s never displayed his credentials anywhere. I’m not saying he wasn’t a doctor, but he didn’t even wear a white coat to make his profession clear. I can’t believe he couldn’t find a white coat to fit him, as he somehow managed to find those tiny glasses. Come to think of it, perhaps he is an eye doctor, although I won’t believe it until I see the diploma. Even if he was a doctor, he wasn’t a good one. All he did when Snow White fell into her deep sleep was put her in a glass case and stare at her. Nowhere in any of the stories did I see him trying a little mouth-to-mouth to revive her.

So if these people, fictional characters and inanimate objects can be called doctor, why can’t I use the prefix as well? It seems to me lawyers have earned the title, or at least I have. I spent my years of law school wearing scrubs all the time and cleaning up vomit (usually after a late night “study session” with friends). If that doesn’t make me worthy of the doctor moniker, I don’t know what does.

©2012Under Analysis, LLC. Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of The Levison Group. Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a member of the law firm McAnany Van Cleave and Phillips. Contact Under Analysis by email at comments@levisongroup.com.