In a recent article from the Miami Herald, a judge blasts lawyers for showing up on Zoom hearings for inappropriate dress. Judge Dennis Bailey addressing the Weston Bar Association said, “it is remarkable how many attorneys appear inappropriately on camera.” Furthermore, he said he has seen “lawyers in casual shirts and blouse,” and some that didn’t groom, or in one case didn’t leave the bed.
While the COVID-19 era of court seems like the new frontier, it is not. Judges still wield tremendous power over your client’s case. While dress technically does not matter, a judge has to rule on the facts and the law, common sense dictates if you dress professionally, you are a professional. Showing respect to the court shows respect to your client. Judge Bailey further said “You’re going to earn the same of respect you’re shown.”
Judge Bailey in the article called out a couple situations where one litigant was poolside and one was even in bed. The lack of preparation getting dressed could show lack of preparation in handling the case.
This story is funny and sad all at the same time. Trial attorney’s like myself are getting comfortable not throwing a tie on everyday, however there are limits. The old adage is correct, “dress for the job you want”. I still work everyday, but I don’t wear a tie. I do however make sure to have at least a collard or polo shirt to remind me that I am not on vacation.
The truth is, this is a systemic problem, especially in Broward County. When courts in session, especially Thursday or Friday, you will see lawyers in all kinds of outfits. Lawyers in jeans, no tie and a jacket. I have seen lawyers in sketchers (real dad footwear). I once saw a lawyer reach into his accordion file folder (paper) and pull out his jacket, wrinkled, and throw it on right before his hearing.
The problem I believe that some of the lawyers mentioned above are dressed downed or in inappropriate places because they don’t like what they do. Many lawyers don’t, but I do. I like the practice of law. I like helping people, and I like wearing my big boy pants for court.