Friday, May 21, 2010

Female Advocates' Attire

How should women dress when they appear in court for their clients? Conventional wisdom suggests conservatively: a sober suit with a respectable blouse. But Professor Maureen Howard, Director of the UW's Trial Advocacy Program, suggests that effective advocates need to be credible, and that might mean dressing to reflect one's own personality and tastes.

The biggest risk of adopting "off the rack" clothing advice is ignoring one's own sense of personal authenticity in dress and manner. In such a situation, the clothing "becomes a "costume," undermining the lawyer's credibility and emphasizing the "play within a play" aspect of trial work. . . . A lawyer who maintains her integrity in her dress and emeanor and is consistently genuine -- consistently herself -- is more likely to be perceived as credible and trustworthy.
Maureen A. Howard, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: One Size Does Not Fit All When It Comes to Courtroom Attire for Women, 45 Gonz. L. Rev. 209, 216 (2009/10), LexisNexis get 45 gonz l rev 209, Westlaw
Find 45 gonz l rev 209. Howard supports her argument with observations from her experience as well as citations to practice guides and scholarly literature.

1 comment:

Usta B. Slim in Phoenix said...

Male lawyers wear a "uniform" in court all the time (suit with tie), and so do judges (a robe).

The idea is to show respect for the court, the law and the proceedings, and not to distract by calling attention to one's mode of dress.
Certainly variations from the tradition "female suit syndrome" are appropriate. A nice dress of mild color and cut, long enough to do what skirts are supposed to do, should be, and is, welcomed.
Boys are different from girls, thank God, and they should dress differently. But neither should put on a fashion show.