“Dear Sir, No More’ – Clifford Chance Uses Robots To Gender Neutralise Its Legal Documents

Dear Sir

Clifford Chance is to ‘neutralize’ gender-specific language from its legal documents by using a new artificial intelligence tool that will remove greetings like ‘Dear Sir’ to provide a non-sexist language to its documents.

‘He’ or ‘she’ will be replaced with ‘they’ or ‘them’ in the future documents and ‘chairman’ will b no more.

The move is meeting some resentment and opposition from the firm, along with others who have adopted similar practices among the deeply entrenched legla profession and its love of ‘Dear Sirs’ and other salutations and descriptions.

Using the LexPredict tool, a knowledge management business, the AI-powered software will eradicate the gender-specific terms from the Clifford Chance templates, according to a report in The Times.

Tiernan Brady, the firm’s global director of inclusion, said: ‘The words and language we use matter greatly. They send a signal of our values and can have both a positive and negative impact on others and on our culture.

‘Removing gendered language from our communications is a subtle but impactful way of demonstrating what we stand for, and we’re delighted to see these steps taken in our firm.’

He argued that purging these ‘gender-specific’ terms was ‘the logical next step to a process that has been evolving over recent years’.

The move is not new and follows other Magic Circle firms doing something similar. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, ditched the ‘gendered’ salutation of ‘Dear Sirs’, which had been used regardless of who the correspondence was addressed to.

 Linklaters, was also said to be evaluating its communications to ensure that language ‘appropriate for all genders’ was employed.

Gender pronouns will not be banned however. Clients can request for references to ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘chairman’ to be included in their documents.

Rachel Reese of Global Butterflies, which supported the government’s legal department in compiling a gender-neutral drafting document, said: ‘We applaud Clifford Chance’s implementation of their Global Policy on Gender Neutral Language, this demonstrates their intention to attract employees and clients from the trans and non-binary community.’

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