After receiving a question about the suit etiquette in the world of law, I decided to do some research. What is seen as normal in this profession when it comes to suits and styles? Is everything tradition or is there also some space for personal preferences?
There seems to be two different occasions within the profession to wear a suit.
The first one is of course in the courtroom itself. As representatives of the law and the clients, it is of utmost importance that the outfit reflects equality of interests and background. That is the main reason why the dresscode often shows similarity: black and white. Also, accessories such as wedding rings, watches, and facial rings are not allowed.
However, it seems that there are definitely differences in robes. So will a more senior (or better earning) professional usually prefer silk robes over cotton or wool-made. This is an income-hierarchy-linked feature we also find in the business world: better quality suits for higher management (“Why can’t everybody look great at entry-level?”). It all comes down to your budget and personal vendetta.
Since the colors of the outfit should be equal, there isn’t a lot room for change on the outside, except for a minimal choice of buttons and stitches. In reality, when we take a look at the inside of the robe, the lining does allow all kinds of patterns and colors. Next to the usual gamma of plain red-black-blue, patterns of flowers, stripes, and even full color prints are worn! Thank Heaven.
The second occasion is outside the courtroom: the direct contact with the client. I would assume that a large law firm would prefer its employees to wear corporate navy or dark-grey. This limitation of colors creates uniformity within the organization and it’s almost impossible to mismatch the colors of your shirt and tie (they think). The fabrics will probably be classical; the herringbone, the sharkskin, plain colored or small pinstripes. A classic model suit such as the double-breasted is much appreciated, whether you are the senior-partner or the young-buck.
When comparing the jurisdictional fields and the type of clients, we definitely see similarities. One of Holland’s most notorious attorneys, Bram Moskowitz, showed us that the toughest cases (and most dangerous clients), produce the best earnings. But to quote Chris Rock “I rather look guilty at the mall, than innocent in jail”.
So whether in the courtroom or in the meeting room, even the traditional profession of law shows rooms for personal preferences and room for growth and development of style. Perhaps a slim-fit robe?