Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

I hate suits

Is it possible to get away with appearing in court in a nice wolfman02/28/17
Depends on the court. My old court expected a shirt and tie. kramer71602/28/17
You are all insane. I have only seen once....ONCE when an at cocolawyer03/01/17
OP, in the courtrooms I've had the pleasure of visiting, wha banana03/01/17
Depends on the courtroom. Nothing like Fridays with everyone kramer71603/02/17
I took advanced trial advocacy from a sitting judge who devo jd4hire02/28/17
Someone asked this same exact question within the last month isthisit02/28/17
I think of my suit as a uniform the way a soldier in the arm trickydick02/28/17
I also hate suits, but appearance matters a lot in this prof bucwild02/28/17
I hear you and have been blown away by some of the things wo jd4hire02/28/17
I always chuckle at our female summer associates. They come bucwild02/28/17
Women should not be wearing khakis. A nice miniskirt I can prestiiigiousone02/28/17
I have yet to see the Family Court attorney dress like this. cocolawyer03/01/17
I'd never appear in court in anything other than a suit. Eve thirdtierlaw02/28/17
In my jurisdiction the rule seems to be that male attorneys flharfh02/28/17
I would definitely say something if I saw a lawyer chick in prestiiigiousone02/28/17
Honestly, which one of us wouldn't rather be on the beach th isthisit02/28/17
Where do you guys practice... I swear when I hear attorneys cocolawyer03/01/17
Probably shouldn't have become an attorney if you don't want tcpaul02/28/17
I also hate suits. If the matter is simple like an uncontest jorgedeclaro02/28/17
sure you can .... if you want to lose your case. you get le dingbat02/28/17
Where I am, a jacket and tie will pass. Some of the men wear fettywap02/28/17
If in doubt, dress the part. That means our typical lawyer u greenhorn02/28/17
You can look schlubbing wearing business casual too. Just bu trollfeeder02/28/17
On days where I don't expect to be in court, I'll wear khaki sjlawyer02/28/17
I also dislike suits, for several reasons: 1) Durability anothernjlawyer02/28/17
It depends on your jurisdiction. In mine, I wouldn't dream o elle30102/28/17
Thanks y'all, this is really good information. wolfman03/01/17
We are known to stress ourselves to death (or bottle) over d cocolawyer03/01/17
But judge, you can't rule for the other guy: my Brioni beats anothernjlawyer03/01/17
(repost of something I mentioned in that other courtroom att inho2solo03/01/17
Jdu has solved my problem once again: https://www.betabrand. wolfman03/13/17

wolfman (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:32 pm)

Is it possible to get away with appearing in court in a nice pair of slacks, a quality shirt, an expensive yet muted tie and a tweed jacket (winter) or a nice linen sport coat (summer)? Asking for a friend haha... actually, also asking for myself (I'd have to get admitted and get a lawyer job first, though)... but I see lawyers in state court in their formless black suits and scuffed shoes, and it makes me sick. This is supposed to be respect for the court? They look like homeless winos someone took to Men's Wearhouse on an outing.

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kramer716 (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:48 pm)

Depends on the court. My old court expected a shirt and tie. The private attorneys still ended up wearing suits. On Fridays, though, they allowed and encouraged you to wear island wear which was nice.

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cocolawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 4:15 pm)

You are all insane. I have only seen once....ONCE when an attorney did not come in formal attire (suit). They were berated by the Court and told if they ever appear in their court again looking like this that they would refuse to hear the matter.

Coming in some tweed nonsense...

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banana (Mar 1, 2017 - 11:24 am)

OP, in the courtrooms I've had the pleasure of visiting, what you described has been just fine. I truly think its depends the courtroom.

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kramer716 (Mar 2, 2017 - 2:10 am)

Depends on the courtroom. Nothing like Fridays with everyone wearing island wear. Good times. The only time I saw an attorney reprimanded, and he wasn't reprimanded, was when he ran over and didn't have a tie. Marshall looked at him and said you need a tie. The Marshall had a spare that looked ugly as hell that they let this attorney use, but nothing was mentioned during the actual hearing.

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jd4hire (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:45 pm)

I took advanced trial advocacy from a sitting judge who devoted a significant chunk of overall class time repeatedly impressing how important dressing and acting the part is. He made it abundantly clear that he will take great offense if an attorney is not dressed appropriately.

Recently was at an event where a judge was a few drinks in. He was rubbing my beard making fun of what a hipster I look like when he then transitioned to telling stories about inappropriately dressed attorneys. He noted that this goes both ways relative to men and women.

In my jurisdiction, older attorneys can get away with the high school prep suits - navy blazer, slacks, and loafers. The people that do that have been around the block and know the judges. I did see an attorney appear in court in jeans and a sports coat. The judge called him a pro se though and was shocked when the attorney noted that he was counsel for the plaintiff.

From my experiences, I'd dress the part.

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isthisit (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:49 pm)

Someone asked this same exact question within the last month or so. I think the consensus was "wear a suit".

My honest advice is go for it and see if you can get away with it.

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trickydick (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:52 pm)

I think of my suit as a uniform the way a soldier in the army, a priest, an usher at a theater, or one of the people who works as a mascot at Disneyland have theirs. It's the only way to tell I'm an attorney.

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bucwild (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:54 pm)

I also hate suits, but appearance matters a lot in this profession. Guys are expected to wear suits. Maybe you can get away with a sports coat in lowly admin state court, like family law or workers' comp. But for anything else, I'd be on the safe side.

These rules do not apply for female attorneys. I've seen them in court in suits, I've seen them in yoga pants. Nobody dares challenge them.

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jd4hire (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:57 pm)

I hear you and have been blown away by some of the things women attorneys wear, but primarily because it is revealing by societal standards. I'm not a sexist, my wife agrees with me (woman attorney).

The judge who had been drinking noted that he is shocked by the revealing clothing women wear in court.

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bucwild (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:01 pm)

I always chuckle at our female summer associates. They come to work appropriately dressed in suits, and they're reporting to female associates wearing khakis. The summers are consistently the best dressed women in the firm.

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prestiiigiousone (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:03 pm)

Women should not be wearing khakis. A nice miniskirt I can deal with

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cocolawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 4:18 pm)

I have yet to see the Family Court attorney dress like this...except for the aforementioned attorney above.

If you are to lazy to wear a suit, you are to lazy to be an attorney.

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thirdtierlaw (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:57 pm)

I'd never appear in court in anything other than a suit. Even if I could get away with it. People expect attorneys to look a certain way, so I make sure to look the part. I'm not doing it for the judge, but I think any judge would be lying if they say they don't notice who is well put together vs. not. If you can't be bothered to wear appropriate clothes can you really trust that the attorney shepardized their cases?

Why do you hate suits? I do not own a single suit that isn't at least as comfortable as my slacks. Many of my suits are actually more comfortable. On the other hand, I can't stand just wearing khakis and a blazer, I feel like I'm a high school student going to homecoming.

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flharfh (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:02 pm)

In my jurisdiction the rule seems to be that male attorneys have to wear some sort of jacket and tie, but that's about it. You can wear a sportcoat and dockers, no problem.

On the other hand, I've seen female attorneys in flip flops, so the rules are much more lax there.

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prestiiigiousone (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

I would definitely say something if I saw a lawyer chick in flip flops. Like "are you looking for the beach?"

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isthisit (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:15 pm)

Honestly, which one of us wouldn't rather be on the beach than in a courthouse?

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cocolawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 4:20 pm)

Where do you guys practice... I swear when I hear attorneys say this stuff I think of some bumpkin courthouse in the middle of nowhere.

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tcpaul (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:19 pm)

Probably shouldn't have become an attorney if you don't want to wear a suit.

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jorgedeclaro (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:33 pm)

I also hate suits. If the matter is simple like an uncontested motion, I will occasionally skimp and go with a sports coat, tie and slacks. Anything contested, important, or trial: full suit and tie no exceptions.

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dingbat (Feb 28, 2017 - 2:38 pm)

sure you can .... if you want to lose your case.
you get less respect from judges, other attorneys, and the jury. Dressing like an idiot implies you can't even fake being an attorney.

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fettywap (Feb 28, 2017 - 3:18 pm)

Where I am, a jacket and tie will pass. Some of the men wear tennis shoes. I see a lot of lesbian looking women show up in an old button down plaid shirt and khaki pants. The judges don't seem to care. I think it's so inappropriate and I would be mad if that was my attorney. You don't have to wear a dress, but at least don't show up looking like you just finished gardening.

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greenhorn (Feb 28, 2017 - 3:20 pm)

If in doubt, dress the part. That means our typical lawyer uniform of a suit and tie. In addition to court staff, clients will appreciate and respect you more if you dress sharp.

When I'm not going to court, what I wear varies. In the summer, if I know I'm not meeting new clients or going to court, I'll sometimes come in wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Usually though, I'll wear comfortable khaki pants and a button down.

I honestly don't mind wearing a suit. As long as its a quality material and well tailored, I find a suit to be comfortable. When I get back to the office, I'll ditch the tie and open the neck button.

Looking good plays a big part. Don't underestimate the importance of that.

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trollfeeder (Feb 28, 2017 - 3:52 pm)

You can look schlubbing wearing business casual too. Just buy nice suits. It doesn't have to cost a fortune, just not be some bargain basement garbage suit. Make sure to get it tailored too. It's only depressing to wear a suit in court if you are in court every day and you rather not ruin good suits.

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sjlawyer (Feb 28, 2017 - 4:39 pm)

On days where I don't expect to be in court, I'll wear khakis or chinos and I leave a sports coat in my closet. If I have to, I'll wear it to court, but it's usually a rush or surprise appearance. If I know I'm going to court, I just wear a suit.

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anothernjlawyer (Feb 28, 2017 - 8:58 pm)

I also dislike suits, for several reasons:

1) Durability. Wool suit pants are slightly stronger than high-end Bounty paper towels. I have had at least 7 pairs of Joseph A Bank wool suit pants run in the crotch: I wore one pair literally 4 times before it came apart at the seams. It's not brand specific: before I donated them, I had a dozen suit jackets with blown out pants that couldn't be replaced (unless you buy them at the same time it's always impossible to get replacement pants since the fabric / colors change). The orphans included various JC Penney and a couple of low-end Brooks Brothers suits as well. There's nothing worse than going to pull on your suit pants and seeing daylight in the groin. Incidentally, in a pinch, black hockey tape, ironed on the inside, does a damn good repair job.

2) Wearability. Suits wrinkle. Unless it's a major hobby, you need to get them dry-cleaned for them to look good. I've spent 45 minutes trying to get the seams on a pair of suit pants to iron properly and if the jacket's arms are wrinkled, forget it. Also when you are sitting down in court and then get up the back of your jacket is usually noticeably wrinkled, which means you can only wear it once between cleanings, unless you want to look like a schlub.

3) Pairability. Unless you've got a charcoal or gray suit, the shirt / tie combinations that are going to work can be limited. Navy pinstripe? One or two decent combos. Green Windowpane? Have fun finding something that doesn't make you look colorblind.

Also, unless you're 5'10" and 165, getting a suit that fits can be a challenge. I ordered from IndoChino and after several tailorings, it almost fits as well as a barrel on straps.

You don't have to wear a suit, in my opinion, to show proper respect for the court or to even to look sharp. I am usually in administrative / municipal courts, with some Superior Court appearances. My standard attire (Fall through Spring) is: George Cleverly Kingsman tan, pebbled leather boots with Dainite soles, pressed, creased Dockers charcoal khakis, Harris Tweed jacket (the real thing, which are more expensive than my old suits, and no stupid elbow patches), white shirt, British-style tie. I'm not flubbing around in tan khakis and beat up loafers. I haven't had any complaints. When I'm in the Appellate Courts, I'll wear a suit, but that's a pretty small percentage of appearances. I've been shopping around for a good tan summer sport jacket so if anybody has suggestions let me know. Also, unless you ball it up and stuff it in your trunk for a week, Harris Tweed doesn't really wrinkle: you can slouch in your courtroom chair all week and still look prim on Friday.

PS, don't be too proud to own a poly-blend suit. Those f!ckers last forever and are easy to iron. I wouldn't wear one in front of the Supreme Court but for traffic court its just fine

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elle301 (Feb 28, 2017 - 10:31 pm)

It depends on your jurisdiction. In mine, I wouldn't dream of showing up in anything less than a suit. However, I was involved in a matter in a very rural county in another state and showed up in a suit-- I was the only one in the building wearing one.

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wolfman (Mar 1, 2017 - 9:36 am)

Thanks y'all, this is really good information.

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cocolawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 4:26 pm)

We are known to stress ourselves to death (or bottle) over details. The reason why is that every seasoned attorney knows the devil is in the details. Those tiny details can mean the difference from winning or losing your matter.

With that being said how in the F*** are you seriously asking if you can come to court looking like a manager for a taco truck? What you are going to spend hours making sure your brief has no format, grammatical, spelling, or citation errors and not spend the 15 minutes to put on a suit? Da Fu**.

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anothernjlawyer (Mar 1, 2017 - 11:12 pm)

But judge, you can't rule for the other guy: my Brioni beats his JC Penney!

Choice of attire isn't equivalent to writing a sh!tty brief. Judges don't like lawyers who are slovenly, unprepared, longwinded, or rude. If you're clean, pleasant, knowledgeable, and to the point, a judge (in my experience at least) is going to take you just as seriously whether you're in a suit or a well-paired blazer and slacks.

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inho2solo (Mar 1, 2017 - 4:40 pm)

(repost of something I mentioned in that other courtroom attire thread)

I got an object lesson at the very beginning of my career. I decided to get sworn in at a smaller* county courthouse considerably outside my LS's main urban area. Unsure what was expected, I dressed in my best suit, and my wife also attended in her best business suit. As happened, only me and one other guy were being sworn in that day.

The other guy showed up to be sworn in wearing khakis and a nice polo shirt.

The chief judge called us back to chambers before hand. No idea what happened with the other guy, as we were separated for the CJ interviews, but it seemed he (the CJ) skillfully extracted my life story in 2 minutes.

A few motions out of the way, at 10:00 came the swearing in ceremony. He introduced me, my wife (asked her to stand up and pointed her out, how happy he was that she was in attendance), where we both worked, my UG degree, our childrens' names, etc. All in about 60 seconds, and all from memory and finished with how very proud he was to be the judge who would be swearing me in that day. The gallery actually stood up with my wife (who was still standing) and clapped.

Then he said, "Oh, yeah, we'll also be swearing in this guy, Jim Smith, today".

That was the full extent of attention he paid, publicly, to this other guy. But he did get sworn in.


* But not small, maybe 800K population.

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wolfman (Mar 13, 2017 - 1:43 am)

Jdu has solved my problem once again: https://www.betabrand.com/mens/shirts/mens-business-suit-onesie-hybrid.html

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