I took a quick walk to the courthouse earlier this week. I was filing a motion, no need to go through security and I wasn’t going to see a judge, so I was in casual clothes. No suit. It was Monday morning, so the area around the courthouse was teeming with attorneys heading into trials and motions. I was struck by the way some of my colleagues were dressed. Most were simply dressed in suits and ties. A few looked like they stepped out of central casting for a pompous, self-involved attorney. Don’t be that guy.
Your appearance matters, particularly in front of a jury. The pompous asses are decked out-french cuffs, suspenders, loud ties, pin-stripes, slicked back hair, heavy gold watches or bracelets. I’m sorry if this is you, but if it is, I’m here to tell you that you are not doing yourself or your client any favors. You may absolutely love the way you look. Your wife or girlfriend may think you’re the hottest thing in Armani. But you are going to turn off many, if not most, potential jurors in most cities and towns in America. I practice in the mid-west, so I think I view things from that perspective. You might be able to get away with this in some really big cities. But honestly, although we aren’t rural Alabama, if you dress this way you end up looking like something out of My Cousin Vinny.
You don’t need to dress to impress a jury. They aren’t going to be impressed by your Rolex. The last time they wore cufflinks was probably the last time they rented a tux for a wedding. Conservative suits and ties should be your goal. It may not be your style, but it will be most of the juror’s style. You won’t have to overcome any negative connotations.
To me, its simply this: Dressing gaudy is going to turn off many jurors and why would you want to do that?