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.