"Sir" in the Office

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AP-375
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"Sir" in the Office

Postby AP-375 » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:34 pm

Coming from my sociolinguistics background, I'm probably thinking about this too much, but I'm curious about how people use "sir" or "ma'am" to address superiors in law offices. I'm not a southerner or military person, so it certainly doesn't roll off of my tongue, and at the firm where I am currently on staff, I almost exclusively use first names, although I usually feel a little awkward about that too. Instead, I just think about how using "sir" linguistically denotes minus-power and minus-solidarity. I've noticed that older, female staff use it quite a bit, but what about younger associates? I know this is kind of frivolous, but I wonder about it a lot. Any thoughts?

Anonymous User
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:37 pm

Based on my experience as a paralegal before law school, don't call a partner "sir" unless he is over 80 years old. And never call a female partner "ma'am" as many women actually find it offensive

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MrKappus
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby MrKappus » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:38 pm

W/o a military background (in which case people who knew about it would just think it's a built-in part of your vocab), I'd say "sir" sounds a tad obsequious, even towards partners.

Anonymous User
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:38 pm

I was also a paralegal before law school. Everyone was first-name, which is not to say that we were all on equal footing. I think I may have made a mistake by using first names at OCI. I would not be shocked to find that OCS was wrong about this, too, but since being corrected by OCS I've been using Mr./Ms., even though I'm pretty sure most of the American business world finds this stuffy.

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ggocat
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby ggocat » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:43 pm

It's fine to use until/unless corrected.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby DoubleChecks » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:46 pm

what if you ARE in a southern firm haha?

AP-375
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby AP-375 » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Based on my experience as a paralegal before law school, don't call a partner "sir" unless he is over 80 years old. And never call a female partner "ma'am" as many women actually find it offensive


Yeah, that was about the only exception where I would use "sir", except that I never actually have a reason to talk to those guys...

DoubleChecks wrote:what if you ARE in a southern firm haha?

I am in a Texas firm, so that is partly why I'm wondering...

imchuckbass58
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby imchuckbass58 » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:57 pm

I think it's pretty weird to address people as sir. At any company I've ever heard of (or worked at), people address superiors by their first name. Sir would just sound ridiculous in my mind, at least in the Northeast.

I think if you want to play it safe, you can try "Mr. Johnson" or "Ms. Johnson" until corrected, but even that's a bit formal.

Interviewing is different since you are not yet colleagues with the person.

pasteurizedmilk
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:04 pm

wait....people called interviewers Mr. and Mrs.?

I just rocked the first name pretty much every time. What's the consensus on this?

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20160810
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby 20160810 » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:15 pm

My impression is that this would be a good move in TX or the South, but elsewhere it's probably regarded as a bit much. It's important to show the partners that you're not just a co-worker, you're also a potential friend, and casual familiarities help with this. That's why after every day this summer, I plan to slap the managing partner on the ass on my way out the door and say "Good game!"

2LLLL
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby 2LLLL » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:44 pm

My policy has always been Mr./Ms. until corrected

LjakW
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby LjakW » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:39 am

2LLLL wrote:My policy has always been Mr./Ms. until corrected

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nealric
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby nealric » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:44 pm

I would just try listen get a read on how people address others in the office. If you are really insecure about it, ask a first year associate. Using "sir" would be considered kind of weird at my firm.

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JazzOne
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Re: "Sir" in the Office

Postby JazzOne » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:49 pm

2LLLL wrote:My policy has always been Mr./Ms. until corrected

I will switch to Mrs. if a female indicates that she is married. I think it's important to pay close attention to what they say, though. If someone introduces himself to you using his first name, it's probably safe to drop the Mr./Ms. stuff. When I sent thank you emails after interviews, I always reverted back to Mr./Ms.




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