Now that I have been an independent practioner for a year and a half, I forget that most lawyers have to put a suit and tie on every single day they go to work. I wear suits to Court, but beyond that, no way! I’ve never had a client so much as flinch when they walk in my office and see me in jeans and a collared shirt. Since much of my business is over the internet, there are many clients I never meet. They judge me purely by my work product and quality.
I went to a local bar event last week, and I was the only person in the room not wearing a suit. In fact, I was in jeans and a collared shirt. It struck me that all these lawyers were bound by a common rule which mandated wearing a suit. Many of their law firms mandate wearing suits. Regardless, they would never show up to a local bar event without one on.
Why is this? Who are they thinking they are going to impress? Are they going to impress the other lawyers? Do other lawyers even care?
I have concluded that lawyers are so stuck on the status quo, that they can’t even see beyond their own wardrobe. A suit to many lawyers is a validation of worth. A suit says, "look at me, I’m a lawyer." A suit is meant to intimidate. Having a nicer, more expensive suit than the other lawyer, puts you on top. Meeting with a client while wearing a suit immediately tells them how important you are. The right power tie can add an inch to your height and tell everyone that you are the most important person in the room.
A suit is in many ways symbolic of everything that is wrong in the practice of law. We are a profession that has come to value form over substance. Beware the lawyer wearing a suit. That lawyer may just have something to hide. The only thing you might be impressed with at the end of your representation is their wardrobe.