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Forget about fashion—we’re lawyers, right? Just slip on that boring old suit, and get to work on important stuff like research, negotiations and writing briefs.
It’s a view I’ve heard before: lawyers know how to dress professionally—in suits—and should focus on legal matters rather than fashion. But how true is that? Randall Ryder's recent post on the Lawyerist explored whether suits should be the rule for lawyers. Ryder suggests that aside from court appearances and meetings with opposing counsel, lawyers can leave their suits on the hangers. For Ryder, ditching the suit isn’t just about being more comfortable—which he does note could make clients feel more at ease—it’s about marketing yourself.
According to Ryder, wearing clothes that relate more to your clients can help you build your personal brand. For example, entertainment lawyers who deal with musicians and artists may bond better with their clients if they dress casually. Ryder acknowledges that casual outfits like t-shirts and jeans may not be plausible for BigLaw attorneys—but solo attorneys and those at small law firms may have more fashion freedom.
Ryder makes a good point—how we present ourselves is critical to our personal brand and marketing. And casual attire can certainly set an attorney apart and perhaps project the image that the lawyer is laid back, approachable and cool. In fact, when I was a law student, attorneys from one firm wore jeans during the fall interview program, projecting a “work hard, play hard” image. But I could also see how wearing casual clothing could backfire and lead to perceptions that the attorney as sloppy, unprofessional and not as serious about his or her work. Just because clients dress casually doesn’t mean they want their lawyers showing up in jeans and converse sneakers.
What do you think? Would you feel more comfortable with an attorney in casual clothes, or would you have trouble taking him or her seriously? How would you perceive your fellow associates and partners if they showed up in jeans tomorrow?
The Lawyerist Source
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