Monday, May 19, 2014

How to dress a client for court.

Although tangential to the actual determination of the issues at play in a case, it is still important to consider how the client will present him/herself in front of the Judge or Jury. The most important consideration is that whatever the client wears, it should show the proper respect to the Court.

Gone are the days when everyone wore suits to Court. Watching 12 Angry Men now, with the juror room full of men in suits and ties is not the norm anymore. This represents a relaxing of sartorial attitudes of society in general, not anything particular to Court proceedings. Now polo shirts, jeans, sneakers, and the like are the standard.

When clients ask what they should wear to court I always tell them to be respectful but comfortable. If a client can wear a nice conservative suit, that's great, but many clients are incredibly uncomfortable in a suit and tie and if he or she fidgets or sweats or otherwise looks out of place that may have a poor impact on the jury. If the client is more comfortable in chinos and a button-down shirt that is acceptable.

Of course it can go the other way as well, if a client projects an image of arrogance by wearing too-expensive tailored suits in front a of generally rural or suburban jury they may draw another adverse inference.

Clothing to be avoided:

Jean shorts
Cut-off jean shorts
Adidas workout pants
Budweiser branded T-shirts
NWA concert T-shirts
NAZI regalia

Footwear to be avoided
Thigh high leather boots

Face tattoos, if applicable, should be covered in makeup concealer prior to entry to the courthouse.


  1. This is true. One time many years ago I met a friend who went to court for a simple moving violation and might need a ride home afterwards. I don't even remember what the ruling was but I remember the judge saying to him, "and for future reference, Mr. ______, a tank-top to show off your muscles is not acceptable in a court of law".

  2. And last week I went to a hearing for something in defense of an employer and my lawyer and I were the only two people wearing suits. My boss and the owner were not. My boss said in the hearing room in front of the hearing guy, "how come you don't dress this well at the office?". And I replied, "how come you don't dress this well in a court, where it is important?". The hearing guy slightly smiled at me and afterwards my lawyer gave me the verbal equivalent of a high-five and told me that it shows I cared about and respected the situation more than the appellants did. :)