What to Wear
I'm getting ready for a jury trial next week, and one of the pre-trial steps I take is getting the client prepared. You'd think that this would primarily be going over the facts of her case and the strategy involved, and you'd be right, but one aspect of that is her presentation in front of the court and the jury. Other clients have told me how everybody they know thinks they are honest and likeable and salt of the earth and they may be right. I tell them that one of the few things I'm sure of in a jury trial here is that none of those people will be on the jury. The jury will meet them for the first and last time in court so they have to convey those things that all their friends already know, in a short and limiting environment. One of the ways that a client can make a good impression is simply by what they wear.
My client in my trial next week was a little concerned. She is a horse trainer, and her idea of dressing up is usually her best pair of jeans. I used to tell clients to dress like they were going to church, until I had one client in a car accident trial show up in a three-piece suit, looking better than I was! I quickly had him lose the vest and coat. I didn't want the jury confused as to who was the lawyer and who was the client. So now I tell them to dress a level or half-level down from my suit. For men that usually means long pants and a collared shirt. I don't have anything more specific to tell my female clients, but they usually can get the idea.
The key in my opinion is to treat court with respect. Jurors are usually not crazy about taking time out of their lives for this civic duty, they at least want the participants to act like it is serious business and they are grateful for the opportunity to have their case heard. Dressing for respect goes not only for my clients, but for anytime you are heading to court, even if you are heading to the courthouse to see about a traffic ticket. Don't wear a hat; don't wear flip-flops; don't wear a T-shirt (especially with curse words printed on it); don't wear a tube top; the judge will not be impressed by the tattoo at your panty line. Most judges will try to be fair but if you dress like you don't respect who they are, and what the court is, you are starting the game already behind.
–Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who specializes in Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real Estate disputes and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.