Law Firm Becomes The First To Ban Old-Fashioned Phrase 'Dear Sirs'

The outdated and sexist phrase has finally had its day in the workplace


After more than two centuries, one of the country's biggest law firms is imposing a blanket ban on the term 'Dear Sirs'.

Freshfields Bruckhouse Deringer recently announced it would now begin its letters by acknowledging that *newsflash* women do actually exist.

Meryl Streep

The firm claims to be the oldest international law firm in the world, and is making the change after a report from its London office found the term was used irrespective of who received the message.

Female solicitor, Megan Castellano, studied legal documents from the last 10 initial public offerings of major company shares and discovered 81, yes only 81, law firms and banks exclusively used the phrase 'Dear Sirs'.


There were also incidents of companies changing set greetings back to the male form of address.

For those without access to a dictionary, we took the liberty of clarifying the term ourselves.

'Sir' (noun) : A polite or respectful way of addressing a man, especially one in a position of authority.

So maybe not completely appropriate as a way of addressing an entire workforce comprising females too then.

Jennifer Lawrence

In the UK, women currently make up 49% of legal associates at Freshfields, but only 13% at partner level.

Chris Pugh, joint managing partner, said he hoped it would 'shed light on other things that we might inadvertently be doing that risk alienating people we communicate with'.

The company will now use the phrase 'Dear Sir or Madam' for all future communications, whilst in the US correspondence will start with 'Dear Ladies and Gentlemen'.

Amy Schumer

It remains to be seen if other companies will follow suit.

But some believe change is unnecessary such as, international law firm, Withers, who said in a statement, 'We currently use 'Dear Sirs' as that remains the accepted standard'.

Ironically, this 'accepted standard' is perhaps where the problem lies.

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