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August 29, 2005

Blawg Review 21 & 22

The latest edition of the carnival of law blogs, Blawg Review #21, is now up at My Shingle and it's packed with great links to some of the best content around the blawgosphere, including: Should law profs wear jeans? Carolyn Elefant says no, and while I admire her greatly, I respectfully disagree. Law is far too stuffy and the dress code at every level is exceedingly ridiculous. Law profs should wear jeans and lawyers should wear jeans and judges should wear jeans. Law should not be the province of those who dress “correctly”—it belongs to the citizens of the nation it helps govern and only a small fraction of those people can afford or want to wear monkey suits and all the rest of the extraneous trappings lawyers seem to think are so important. This is yet another reason I hope to someday practice law in the Rocky Mountain region. Sure, there are firms there that require the monkey suit, but if you head out into smaller communities you'll find that “dressing up” means nice boots or shoes, jeans, a clean button-down shirt (often western cut but not necessarily), and a sportcoat. Boots, tie, and cowboy hat optional. That's much more my style.

Yeah, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. And yeah, standards are different for women, but they are also more relaxed, I believe.

If you think about this as a pedagogical question and ask what kind of message you're sending by your dress, there are obviously arguments on both sides. However, I read the support of suits as a silly ploy for power, an attempt to “establish authority” in the classroom. Authoritarian classrooms, like authoritarian regimes, suck, and that's just one reason law school often sucks. So do your students a favor law profs and drop the silly games. Wear what you want and be a human being, not an “authority figure.”

Oh, and just to add to the mix: I had a prof last year at GW who wore some kind of leather-like pants. He never wore a sportcoat or blazer, and I'm pretty sure he wore jeans a few times. He also had some wild shirts with flames and other crazy decorations on them. He was a little goofy, but his dress code didn't make any difference to me. I'm glad he wore what he was comfortable with. Everyone should do that.

TANGENT! Anyhoo, once you've finished reading all the great stuff there, be sure and follow these submission guidelines to send your posts in for Blawg Review #22. The host will be Blawg Wisdom and the theme will be “back-to-school.” But while the focus will be on that theme, #22 will obviously include posts on a wide range of topics. So find a good post or two—either your own or something you read from somewhere else—and send it in. And thanks for playing!

Posted August 29, 2005 10:47 AM | meta-blogging

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While I agree with you about dress, for the most part, I think there is something about maintaining a professional appearance that applies not just to lawyers, but doctors, accountants, etc. It has to do with client expectations.

*My* preferred clothing is a plain shirt, baggy shorts and Vans... but you cannot tell me that if I approached a client dressed in that outfit that it would inspire confidence in my abilities. Similarly, if you are a PD, do you command the respect of your clients or can you maintain a decent relationship *without* seeming like somewhat of an authority figure? I don't know, but it seems like it would be harder.

So then it becomes an issue of where the line is drawn. Obviously, I don't think professors have to pull out the three-piece everyday, but as I noted in the profblawg thread, I have noticed that the professors who dress professionally are afforded more respect in their classrooms--for whatever reason.

Hey, if you want to practice law dressed with a little flair, I say more power to you--seems to have worked out alright for Gerry Spence.

Posted by: Dave! at August 29, 2005 01:19 PM

Speaking of monkey suits, see

It might be a nice complement to the Race & the Law class. It is one of the (many) texts for that seminar at Rutgers.

Posted by: ash at August 30, 2005 10:55 AM

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