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In the old days of typewriters and lollipops, attorneys had offices on Main Street and had clients who would walk in their door with legal problems. Today, some attorneys do not have offices, or work virtually and never meet their clients in person.

Regardless of whether you meet with clients in your office, at their house, or through a video conference, what is the proper attire?

Does it matter what type of clients you have?

Some lawyers (including people who happen to work at the GLF) have argued that you should dress the way your clients dress. For example, if you represent lots of blue-collar individuals, they would rather talk to someone in jeans. Wearing a nice suit could actually alienate your clients, rather than endear you to them. If you represent businesses and high-powered corporations, however, your suit should be as nice as theirs.

But is this relevant—should lawyers always wear suits? Go with what works for you. Many clients want an attorney they feel comfortable with and have confidence in. To some clients, this means their lawyer must wear a suit. To other clients, this means a personable lawyer wearing jeans.

Is this my way of justifying a Captain America t-shirt with a blazer? Possibly. But I usually reserve that look for days when I am not meeting with clients.

Ask your clients what they think

If you are always in dress pants and a button-down, ask your clients what they would think if you were wearing jeans. The question might be self-serving, but I bet a few clients will give you honest feedback.

I have met with more than client who said, unprompted, they preferred my “casual” look because it made them feel more comfortable. I have also had clients say “I thought lawyers always wore suits?” More often than not, however, our clients appear to feel more comfortable when we dress more casual.


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  • Caitlin Elliott

    I think it’s really all in the situation – as a youngish looking female attorney who volunteers (among other things) as a court-appointed arraignment attorney, people wouldn’t bother with seeing me unless I dress in a suit. (I announce at the beginning of arraignment court that I’m available to consult on their case as a volunteer if they wish, so I’m able to compare how many “takers” I get on particular days with their impressions of me). Interestingly, there was a large jump in the number of people who would consult with me after I chopped my hair to just below chin length (vs below the shoulders before).

  • JJ Cool

    Have you ever seen the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm? the client comes in and says to the lawyer in jeans “What the F— are you wearing?!?” and then proceeded to fire his lawyer despite casual friday arguments to the contrary.

    The truth is people expect more from lawyers, they expect us to be brighter, smarter, more articulate, more organized, you name it we are expected to be better. When people come to a lawyer it is with life changing, world shattering problems and they want their lawyer to at least appear he or she is taking it seriously.

    wear jeans at your own peril (just don’t expect to get those student loans paid off any sooner).


  • I agree with Caitlin. I think it all depends on the situation. When I was growing up in a small town, most people were really skeptical of lawyers who wore a suit everyday. On the other hand, the lawyers who had a professional, yet more down-to-earth look, seemed to attract more clients. I think a good rule of thumb is to dress up for the situation. If you generally meet with musicians or artists, jeans and a jacket may be just dressy enough. If you’re meeting with landowners and farmers in a small town, opt for khakis and a button-up or a simple dress rather than donning your work boots and a polo. Meeting with a group of business execs or going to court, then go ahead and wear your suit.