Good legal writers should write in such a way that no one could call sexist, but also appears totally natural and not contrived. Bryan Garner recommends that legal writers adopt a style that “no reasonable person could call sexist [and that] never suggests that you’re contorting your language to be nonsexist.” In Modern American Usage, Garner suggests three solutions to the “Pronoun Problem“:
- Alternate your use of masculine pronouns he, him, or himself, and feminine pronouns she, her, or herself. After all, that’s what the Supreme Court Justices do.
- Use pronouns pairs like he or she and his or her.
- Avoid the pronoun problem by:
- Deleting the pronoun
- Changing the pronoun to an article like a(n) or the
- Pluralizing the sentence so that he becomes they
- Substitute the relative pronoun who for he or she
- Repeating the antecedent noun making the pronoun unnecessary
What NOT to do – avoid the “slants.” What is a “slant”? According to William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, a “slant has no place in good English.” The slant is a nonword that combines the pronouns: s/he, he/she, she/he, s/he/it (really?).
For more, read “Avoiding Sexism in Legal Writing – The Pronoun Problem” here.