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What Should My Lawyer Wear To Court?

It is true that the world has become more casual generally.  There was a time when people wore suits to fly on airplanes and wore black ties to the theater.  We all know that those days are long gone.  Silicon Valley billionaires take business meetings about nine figure deals in hoodies and jeans. Big deals are being done over bowls of $8 spicy noodles instead of the $800 tasting menus of the past.  

With all of this turn to casual, a lot of lawyers have toned down their attire as well, opting to wear jeans to work and to depositions as well as networking events.  Some attorneys bring this casual attire into court as well – wearing blue blazers with khaki pants in lieu of a traditional suit, or wearing flats with a sundress in lieu of a women’s suit.  

It is true that the appropriate attire for a lawyer to wear in court can vary depending on the jurisdiction, the type of case, and local customs as a personal injury lawyer can explain. There is a rumor that in Hawaii and Guam, lawyers can attend court in Hawaiian shirts – but that rumor has yet to be substantiated.  When it comes to court, however, your lawyer needs to err on the side of being more formal.  Even if the younger generation trends casual, a lot of judges and jurors expect that a lawyer will be in a suit without too much flare – wearing anything else runs the risk of polarizing your factfinder before you even open your mouth.

There are some general guidelines that lawyers typically follow when dressing for court appearances according to Kiefer & Kiefer:

  • Formal Business Attire: In most cases, lawyers should wear formal business attire to court. This typically includes a suit in a conservative color such as black, navy blue, or gray. For men, this means a suit with a dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes. For women, this could include a pantsuit or skirt suit with a blouse and closed-toe shoes.
  • Conservative Clothing: Clothing should be conservative and professional in appearance. Avoid flashy or overly trendy clothing, and opt for conservative styles and colors.
  • Well-Groomed Appearance: Personal grooming is important when appearing in court. Make sure clothing is clean, pressed, and in good condition. Hair should be neat, and facial hair should be groomed. Avoid excessive jewelry or accessories.
  • Respect the Court’s Dress Code: Some courts may have specific dress codes that lawyers are expected to follow. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with any dress code requirements issued by the court where your case is being heard.
  • Consider the Nature of the Case: In some instances, the nature of the case may influence the appropriate attire. For example, attorneys representing clients in more formal settings such as corporate law or litigation may opt for more traditional business attire, while attorneys representing clients in less formal settings such as family court may have more flexibility.
  • Professional Demeanor: Beyond attire, maintaining a professional demeanor and respectful behavior in court is crucial. This includes addressing the judge and other court officials appropriately, being punctual, and following courtroom etiquette.

It’s always a good idea to consult with your own attorney or the local rules of the court where your case is being heard to ensure that you are appropriately dressed for your court appearance.