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Sort of a French cuff question...but broader

Discussion in 'Andy's Fashion Forum' started by dcw, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. dcw

    dcw Starting Member

    6
    United States
    California
    Novato
    Howdy gentlemen. I’m new here but it looks like a place with lots of opinions and lively chatter.

    What do do folks think about how a lawyer should present–clothing wise–to a jury. I am a partner in a small litigation firm in Northern California. (Bay Area). We represent individuals and small companies in business and employment matters. No personal injury, divorce or other “flash point” type cases. Usually both sides can generate opinions and emotions on both side of an issue.

    What message do you think is sent or received by embellishments in an attorneys dress? Do you think french cuffs and silver monogrammed cuff links are flashy? (Assume either a conservative BB suit, or gray flannels with a nice jacket.). I don’t do monogrammed shirts. I wear a Breitling watch, but it is not ostentatious. I don’t use expensive pens at counsel table.

    I guess the uber question is whether you prefer that an attorney project a pricier sophistication/elegance, or a more work-a-day roll up the sleeves approach.

    BTW, I’ve been practicing law for 29 years, and have always wrestled with this question. There are a LOT of lawyers who wear ill fitting suits, cheap knit ties that they don’t know how to tie, and crepe soled shoes that haven’t seen polish in years. That is not me. There are also many that look like they’re carrying $15k worth of clothing on their backs. Also no I think. The general rule is that the clothing should not distract from the presentation of content. But that is ALWAY the case no matter what the context.
     
  2. Kyle76

    Kyle76 Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    252
    United States
    NC
    Fayetteville
    IMO, a trial attorney should look smart and dress smartly. You don't want to overwhelm the jury with your wardrobe, but you do want them to believe that you are successful, which to most will mean you know what you're doing. Jurors are the strangers in the courtroom, and if you look and conduct yourself professionally, they will assume you know what you are about. French cuffs with silver cuff links are fine, IMO. No diamond cuff links or big rings, I would think. Otherwise, a conservative suit, even a monogram shirt, should be fine. Look like you've won a case or two.
     
  3. eagle2250

    eagle2250 Connoisseur - Moderator

    Harmony, FL
    United States
    Florida
    Harmony
    I expect my attorney to dress in a manner consistent with the arguably exorbitant hourly rate that he charges me for his service(s). LOL. ;)
     
  4. MRR

    MRR Senior Member

    857
    United States
    New York
    Batavia
    First; that is a very location-specific question. I practiced in several different areas of two different states and, while those two extremes existed everywhere, "appropriate" varied greatly.

    I'm a french cuff kind of guy and generally am the only one in the area.

    As to your uber question; I would want an attorney who dresses well (suit should be fitted, shoes should be shined), but has a casual demeanor.

    FWIW, I doubt most clients know a Brietling watch; they just know what looks expensive, or gaudy, or subdued, or cheap. Probably none of the people I see know that my shoes are $400, watch is $200, and my suit was holiday sale JAB for $100. I'm still the guy with the french cuffs who "dresses down" by wearing a blazer to board meetings.
     
  5. MRR

    MRR Senior Member

    857
    United States
    New York
    Batavia
    Unless you graduated from the local university. I've seen several University of Kentucky lawyers make certain their class rings were visible to the jury.
     
  6. dcw

    dcw Starting Member

    6
    United States
    California
    Novato
    Ha! Yes, I’ve heard that. In a similar vein I’ve heard folks say that, “maybe if he didn’t wear custom made suits and have a polished walnut conference room table, he could cut his rates. I need the skills, not the furniture.” Thank you.
     
  7. dcw

    dcw Starting Member

    6
    United States
    California
    Novato
    Well said. Thank you.
     
  8. Charles Dana

    Charles Dana Advanced Member

    United States
    California
    San Francisco
    I'm not an attorney, but I've experienced the nearly orgasmic joy of voir dire several times and I even served on a jury (coincidentally, it was an employment matter. The ditzy plaintiff had no case and walked away with nothing. She probably would have done better if she'd had some evidence....) Now then:

    No. And it's unlikely anyone else will think so, either, primarily because they won't notice your cuffs. (I'm talking about normal people. I will notice, but will be unfazed.)

    Yes--wear a basic, but well-fitting, workhorse suit to offset the French cuffs, should anyone notice them. And nobody will care about your pen.

    Stay in the mid-point. Not flashy, but not rumpled.

    Two additional points:

    (a) What the jurors (or potential jurors) will notice is if you are wearing an ugly tie. They won't care about your shirt cuffs or pen, but God help you if they don't like your neckwear.

    (b) The jurors, above all, want your closing argument to contain nothing but straightforward common sense. If it contains that, then they might--that's might--be willing to forgive an ugly tie. But don't bet on it.
     
  9. Matt S

    Matt S Connoisseur

    United States
    NY
    New York
    Cufflinks give a polished, professional and successful appearance, but if the idea is to appeal to a jury, people these days don't trust flashiness, and even the most subdued cufflinks can be considered flashy by many commoners. People connect better with those like them, and most people are not the cufflink-wearing-type. Cufflinks could possibly distract someone from what you are saying, even if we think they shouldn't. If I were your client, I would want you to dress in a way that best appeals to the jury: well-groomed and well-put-together, but not flashy. But if I'm meeting you in your office, I'd like to see some symbols of success in your clothes.
     
  10. dcw

    dcw Starting Member

    6
    United States
    California
    Novato
    (a) What the jurors (or potential jurors) will notice is if you are wearing an ugly tie. They won't care about your shirt cuffs or pen, but God help you if they don't like your neckwear.


    Thanks for that. I generally choose pretty nice ties so that's good to know!
     

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