Law Society discontinues use of outdated “Dear Sirs” salutation

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Solicitors encouraged to adopt new formal greeting

The Law Society of Ireland has launched a new policy to discontinue the outdated “Dear Sirs” salutation. “Dear Sirs” was traditionally used on all formal letters and business emails where the recipient was unknown.

President of the Law Society of Ireland, Michele O’Boyle, said, “In a move to make our written communications reflect a more equal, diverse and inclusive profession, the Law Society is encouraging all colleagues across the legal profession to retire the male-centric “Dear Sirs” phrase and adopt greetings that have a more inclusive modern approach.”

“It is entirely a matter for each firm if they choose to adopt an alternative salutation or not, however, it is an initiative the Law Society is encouraging,” said Ms O’Boyle.

“This Law Society policy change is not a ‘women’s issue’. It is social progress. Women now make up over 51 per cent of the solicitors’ profession and the use of the “Dear Sirs” salutation is no longer accurate,” she explained.

Looking to the future

Highlighting the Law Society’s strategy statement, Proud of Tradition – Prepared for the Future, Ms O’Boyle stated, “it is time to retire this outdated salutation and develop and normalise other, more inclusive greetings which reflect the world we live in.”

“Further, the “Dear Sirs” salutation conflicts with the Law Society’s Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy as it is exclusive and not reflective of gender,” she explained. “It does not represent all of our members.”

Alternative greetings

“There are many other suitable alternatives to “Dear Sirs“,” said Ms O’Boyle. “Dear Mr/Ms Surname, Dear Colleague, Dear Counsel, A Chara, or Dear Position, i.e. Dear Managing Partner, Dear Principal, Dear Senior Associate etc. These are all alternatives and this is not an exhaustive list.”

“I anticipate that my colleagues in Sligo and across the profession will welcome this initiative and will adopt personalised, gender appropriate or gender neutral greetings. It is an easy adjustment to make which will result in a more inclusive profession, however, I wish to stress that it is entirely a matter for each firm if they choose to adopt an alternative salutation or not.”

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