How can this be true for even pro se litigants in court? Why can't they use Singular First Person Pronouns in their pleadings, when they are alleging causes of action to them personally? How must they call themselves then?

Isn't it tedious and weird to keep calling themselves as "Plaintiff", or their own full name?

Use “we” for yourself and your client, and use “counsel for appellant or respondent” for opposing counsel. Do not use “you” to refer to the court. Do not use “I” to refer to yourself.

This book bases on US law. Bahrych (PhD University of Washington in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, JD University of Washington), McLellan (JD Santa Clara University), Merino (JD Stanford). Legal Writing and Analysis in a Nutshell 5th edition (2017). 163.


Why can't self-represented litigants use “I” to refer to myself?

It is perfectly lawful for a pro se litigant to refer to himself using the personal pronoun.

Isn't it tedious and weird to keep calling themselves as "Plaintiff", or their own full name?

No. In fact, using the terms plaintiff and defendant tends to streamline the reading of one's legal arguments. Although the author's side in the controversy can be inferred from his arguments, using the label plaintiff (or defendant) saves reader(s) the hassle of memorizing or repeatedly checking the header or caption the author's side in the controversy. Keep in mind that people whose job in court entails reading briefs do so for a multitude of cases on a daily basis, whence anything a litigant can do to make his arguments easier to grasp is a good idea.

Only when the controversy involves multiple persons in one same side (for instance, three plaintiffs suing a defendant), using the plaintiffs' names is preferable because it preempts confusion as to which party is being referred to in the statement.


That book provides advice on legal writing; it is not a source of rules for legal writing.

Rather than repeatedly identifying themselves using their full name, parties customarily refer to themselves in the third person, e.g., "The defendant refused to waive his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial."

In practice, though, pro se litigants regularly refer to themselves in the first person, and there is no formal consequence for this.


As bdb484's answer correctly notes, this is simply advice. In particular, it allows your filing to sound like the rest of the well-written filings judges read.

Most such filings are written by lawyers representing a client. Since the lawyer is not actually the litigant in the case, they virtually never use "I" to refer to the litigant.

By referring to themselves in that same way when filing things on their own behalf, self-represented litigants make their filings sound more like professionally written filings and less like the sort of poorly drafted filings often filed by self-represented litigants.

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