“Are You My Lawyer or the Janitor?” The lawyer’s dress-code pendulum swings back.

Some recent reports about law firms trying to persuade associates to dress better, and even hiring coaches for them, are a reminder that the pendulum seems to have swung back from the days when even old timers were “dressing down” to try and “connect” with the wealthy young techie entrepreneurs.

I, for one, am pleased to see a move toward more moderate dress.


There has been silliness on both sides of the continuum. Some years ago, the Delaware Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, issued an edict that lawyers appearing before it had to wear white shirts. So much for sartorial creativity.

But if I were seeing a lawyer, I’d feel more confident if he or she were wearing a white shirt than jeans or running pants. While I don’t think we need to force associates to pore over “Dress For Success,” I think that dressing up a bit is a step in the right direction, both for the lawyer’s self-image and the clients’ confidence in the attorney. Maybe ties can be optional, especially in the summer, but there’s nothing like a suit or at least a sport jacket to establish a tone of authority (deserved or not).