8 March 2020

Dear Sirs

Brenda_and_Jodi

“Dear Sirs,”

It has now been 101 years since woman have been permitted to study law in the UK and on this International Women’s Day I want to celebrate all those female law students and lawyers that came before me.

We have come a long way in the last century and the number of woman in the profession is ever growing. In 2015, the Law Society of Scotland reported that 51% of solicitors were female with the percentage due to increase year on year. This figure, in isolation, is of course promising but what is the impact in practice?

Certainly, within Road Traffic Accident Law Scotland, 61% of our staff are female and unlike the legal landscape more generally, our founding Partner is a woman. Despite this, on a daily basis we all receive correspondence by email and letters addressed to “Dear Sirs." These are mainly received from insurance companies and other firms of solicitors.

The generalisation and, quite frankly, archaic term is frustrating enough in a letter. There is either an assumption that the recipient must be male or a ‘style’ letter that some feel cannot be deviated from despite the year being 2020! What is more annoying, however, is the email is usually addressed to a single recipient that is still headed up, not only with the male pronoun but remains in the plural!

In 2016, Freshfields was the first ‘magic circle’ firm to announce they would cease to use the phrase “Dear Sirs” in all correspondence and replace it with “Dear Sir or Madam.” This development made the news and the response from other firms was simply that “Dear Sirs” was an “accepted standard!” This is simply not good enough.

It was only last month that the American firm, Quinn Emanuel, confirmed they would be following Freshfields lead but quite how it has taken four years to reach that decision is rather baffling.

In an ever evolving world where people are no longer defined by their gender, the legal world needs to catch up. It can no longer be acceptable to have a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to addressing people in the profession.

This is not limited to gender alone; I know my male colleagues are equally frustrated when they receive emails addressed to them solely but still referring to them in the plural. Professional courtesy can extend to addressing someone by name. In fact, I believe if we wish to modernise the profession and make it more welcoming and approachable, then it should very much be encouraged.

This year we welcome the 53rd International Women’s Day. With the use of male pronouns still being common practice, I can only hope that the push towards change gathers further momentum so that we do not have to wait a further 53 years to see a shift in what is deemed to be the accepted standard!

Jodi Gordon - Partner

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We like to meet all our clients and sometimes their families personally, so we get to know them well. 

We're passionate about providing the best possible service for our clients and our prime focus is to get them fit again and back on their bikes.

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CORRESPONDENCE ADDRESS

All correspondence should be addressed or delivered to:
Road Traffic Accident Law (Scotland) LLP
16-20 Castle Street,

Edinburgh,

EH2 3AT

If you have been involved in a road traffic collision, you can contact us below at an address nearest to you or if you prefer to use our online enquiry form just give your name and number and one of our specialist lawyers will contact you.

 

 
 

83 Princes Street,
Edinburgh,
EH2 2ER

 

Edinburgh

1 West Regent Street,
Glasgow
G2 1RW

 

 Glasgow

Spaces,
One Marischal Square,
Broad Street,
Aberdeen, AB10 1BL

Aberdeen

5 Cherry Court,
Cavalry Park,
Peebles, EH45 9BU

 

Peebles