The Law Department’s dedication to legal excellence is inseparable from its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We celebrate the diversity of our staff, the City’s workforce, and the residents whom we serve, and are dedicated to fostering an inclusive and equitable work environment. 

The Inclusive Language Guide was developed by the Law Department to share best practices for language use in legal writing that reflect the City of Philadelphia’s commitment to fostering inclusivity, equity, and respect for one’s identity and individual circumstances. Following the recommendations in this guide will help legal professionals and other City employees to be more inclusive in their writing and avoid using terms that may be hurtful or outdated.

As legal professionals, how we use language has consequences at both an institutional and a societal level. Our choice of words can affect how we interact with each other, with our clients, the communities we serve, and the courts. Language can enhance or decrease opportunity for bias, which can influence the outcome of a court case. 

This guide addresses how best to describe identities respectfully in legal writing, specifically, but the suggestions we share may also be helpful for enhancing inclusivity in other forms of writing. This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list of language recommendations, and may be updated periodically.