Quinn Emanuel follows Freshfields in ditching ‘Dear Sirs’ from lawyers’ emails

By on

‘The idea is to show that we take gender seriously’, says US firm

US outfit Quinn Emanuel has banned its London lawyers from using the term “Dear Sirs” in external correspondence, it has emerged.

In an email to partners, lawyers and support staff, the litigation heavyweight explained it had discontinued the use of “Dear Sirs” and instead implemented gender-neutral options which can be used as appropriate depending on the context and personal preference of the sender.

It goes on to suggest a number of alternative options including “Dear Colleagues”, “Dear Counsel” or no salutation at all. The ban applies to all “external professional correspondence”, whether via letter or email, according to the internal email seen by Legal Cheek.

The firm says it will keep the ban under review and “see how things develop/what people’s preferences turn out to be in practice”.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Speaking to the Financial Times (£), Richard East, Quinn’s senior partner in London, said: “The idea is to show that we take gender seriously and are revolutionary and innovative in our thinking.”

He continued:

“It just doesn’t represent the profession any more, more women than men come into the profession every year so how can you continue to perpetuate practices like this?”

The move comes almost four years after Freshfields ditched the masculine greeting in favour of “Dear Sir or Madam”.

Commenting on the decision at the time, Freshfields then joint managing partner Chris Pugh described it as “relatively small change” but one he hoped “will shed light on other things that we might inadvertently be doing that risk alienating people we communicate with”.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub



I do not think I have ever seen “Dear Sirs” ever used in any communications. Normally you write smth like “Hi Jeb” / “Hi Synthia” in the beginning of an email and that’s it.



It’s common in litigation.



In the official letters to the court / tribunal if all recipients are male (though this does not happen that often) – yes, use it myself. But not in emails, there it is normally less formal – be it litigation or arbitration in some UN court.


Australian barrister

Why not use Dear Sir/Madam? Women ate half the population.


Australian Banana

Why – were they hungry?


I use it in one case because I know it annoys the other side.



They’re talking about letters, idiot, where if you were really a lawyer, you’d know that it’s standard to write “Dear Sirs” when addressing a firm rather than a specified individual.

Back to the contract law text books now for you.



Try to read the article again and see if they are talking about letters or emails.

You might want to go back to your textbooks yourself and practice your reading skills.



it does …

Trip to Specsavers might be in order



“Dear Sir or Madam” is so 4 years ago.

It ignores the revolution in the non-binary community. “Dear Sir or Madam or Others (or a combination of the three)” is far more apropos.



“Dear It”?



Surprised there are firms that still use ” Dear Sirs”, it is now common practice to either use the recipient’s name or ” Dear Sir/Madam”


Tiny Tom

I will carry on using “Dear Sirs” because it is correct.


Carrie Symonds' Yellow Mop

It’s political correctness gone mad.



In English a known mixed group or potential mixed group of male and female members takes the male form. It is basic grammar, not sexism. “Dear Sirs” is correct. Everything else is an affectation pandering to the ignorant and oversensitive.


Dear Madams

Yeah but who made that grammatical rule…



English speakers. Next.

Such conventions are quite common in languages that have more formal and widespread distinctions between noun gender with concomitant effects on grammatical structures elsewhere in a sentence. It is probably because we do not have such a strong sense of noun gender that the ignorant have trouble with the rule.


Dear Madams

You’re missing the point but ok…



The moaners allocate a discriminatory implication to a set of rules that have no discriminatory foundation. Just because one writes “Dear Sirs” or “firemen” instead of “Dear Colleagues” or “firefighters” does not mean one is upholding a norm of patriarchal oppression. There are far more important things to address than to waste time assuaging the oversensitivity of the linguistically ignorant. I didn’t “miss the point”, rather the point came from a series of conclusions and assumptions that were flawed and which means the point, such as it is, does not merit consideration.


Dear Madams

You write like a pleb trying to sound intelligent.


Bless, speaking of the plebeian, Dear Madams descended into the ad hominem. . Now “ad hominem”, DM, is that too masculine for you? I mean, after all, “homo” is a male noun in Latin though it was used too for the generic male and female group….

Australian barrister

Then use Dear Mesdames. Excluding half the population doesn’t matter to do, because you are one of the included.


“The idea is to show that we take gender seriously and are revolutionary and innovative in our thinking.”

Oh no it doesn’t…


Raging Tory

I’m right wing and agree with this


K. Karan

Truth is that most companies worldwide ditched this years ago or never ever had it to begin with. Disappointing to note they had to “ban” its use but says a lot about the firms.


Sir Henry, Sir Bruce and Sir Thomas

We think this is silly



I got a “Ladies and Gentlemen” once. I wanted to reach my hand through the screen and ring their necks.

No, Sharon, I am not sat waiting for Ricky Gervais to be announced in at the Golden Globes; I want a response to the correspondence you’ve been wasting my time with.


Grammar Police

“I want a response to the correspondence with which you have been my wasting time”, if you please.



With respect (not unreasonably withheld), any person who believes “with which” should be used in common parlance (and even tries to correct people with its insertion) has no notional grasp of coherent language, let alone a mandate to go about trying to correct others of theirs.



I wonder how my client would feel if I billed them for the time taken to think about the possible genders of the recipients to my email and if they would be offended to receive a ‘Dear Sirs’ as a woman.

It’s convenient, quick and fast and no one really pays attention to the header (unless of course it says something out of the ordinary such and dear Madams).



My firm still uses Dear Sirs – in fact it’s hardwired into our document automation to trigger the “yours faithfully, ” signature block.

It lets the other side know there’s about to be some petty shade thrown their way.


Sir Percy

Much better to start all letters as follows;


We beg to enclose…….

Also this contributor (see below) should learn how to spell “practise” (when it is used as a verb).

A very common mistake but one that lawyers, of all people, really ought to know

Feb 17 2020 11:21am

Try to read the article again and see if they are talking about letters or emails.

You might want to go back to your textbooks yourself and practice (Urrgh!!) your reading skills.


Comments are closed.

Related Stories